Understanding Commercial Driver Medicals

Health & Medical Blog

When you are offered a job as a commercial driver, passing a medical will be a condition of your offer of employment. Pre-employment medicals are designed to reduce the risk of harm to the prospective employee, other employees within a company and the general public by screening out candidates whose health could make the specific job role they have applied for unsuitable. For example, you may not be able to drive safely if you have vision problems, substance addiction, epilepsy or a psychiatric disorder.

A commercial driver medical can be carried out by your GP or by an employer's occupational health department. In addition to the standard tests carried out as part of a pre-employment medical, such as blood pressure, weight check and urine screening, commercial drivers will require specific medical checks that are relevant to their role. Here's an overview of four screening tests that form part of the commercial driver medical:

Audiometry Assessment

An audiometry assessment is a type of hearing test that's used to establish the range of sounds you can hear at varying frequencies. You will be asked to wear noise cancelling earphones, and sounds will be played into one ear at a time. You will signal when you hear a sound and your results will be charted on a graph to establish a baseline for your hearing and whether you have any form of hearing loss. If the assessment shows you do have a degree of hearing loss, you will be offered further testing to establish the cause, as some causes of hearing loss, such as ear canal obstructions and chronic ear infections, can be treated.

Eye Test

Your doctor will use an ophthalmoscope and tonometer to determine whether you have any vision loss or eye problems that could make driving unsafe. An ophthalmoscope is a small magnifying device with a light attached to it, and it allows your doctor to see right to the back of your eye. It can help identify several health problems, such as optic nerve damage, melanoma of the eye, macular degeneration and eye conditions associated with type 2 diabetes. A tonometer is a machine that delivers puffs of air into your eye in order to measure eye pressure. High eye pressure can signal inflammation or glaucoma, and low eye pressure can indicate you have maculopathy or corneal decompensation.

Musculoskeletal Examination

As commercial driving involves spending much of your time in a seated position and can also involve heavy lifting, a musculoskeletal examination can be used to determine if you have any signs of joint wear, muscle inflammation or movement limitations. Your doctor will physically examine your joints and assess your posture, and they may carry out a blood test to establish if your inflammatory markers are raised, which can indicate an underlying condition, such as arthritis.

Cardiovascular Assessment

Heart health is checked by carrying out fitness testing and a cardiovascular examination. Fitness testing involves walking on a treadmill while your heart rate is monitored, and this ensures your heart can cope with moderate physical activity. The cardiovascular exam consists of a blood pressure and pulse check and you may be asked to have an ECG test. This is a short test that involves having sensor pads attached to your chest to check your heart has a normal, healthy rhythm.

When you undergo a pre-employment commercial driver medical, you will give your prospective employer permission to view the summarised results of your medical. However, you still have the same right to confidentiality as you would when visiting your GP about any other health issue, so the employer will not be able to gain access to specific details of your medical or any other confidential information you choose to share with your doctor during your medical


19 June 2017

Staying Healthy from the Inside Out

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