Health can have important implications for occupational safety. And in that sense, medical examination is one of the weapons that companies have to prevent occupational hazards.
However, it corresponds to the worker’s private sphere. And with the exception of certain cases, the employee will decide whether or not to submit to this procedure.
In the following lines, we will analyse what the law says about it.
The medical examination in the field of the company
Medical examinations start from the principle of voluntariness, although the law does not grant the same treatment in all cases. First of all, let’s start with the basics. The Spanish Constitution, in its article 18.1, establishes the right to privacy for the people. By virtue of this article, workers themselves will have to give their consent, freely deciding whether or not to have any examination. However, in accordance with article 22 of the Spanish Law on Occupational Health and Safety, employers must guarantee their employees periodic health examinations, according to the risks inherent to the work they perform.
Thus, we already know that it is the duty of the employer to propose medical examinations to its employees, being the workers themselves free to accept or not (not only they will be able to decide if they accept them, but also which tests are carried out and which are not). However, the law contemplates certain cases under which medical examinations are established as mandatory. See herein bellow.
When is it mandatory to take medical examinations?
We have already talked about the right to privacy, under which it is the worker himself who decides to submit to examination. However, this right cannot be, in any case, above the health of third parties. Thus, voluntariness will have certain exceptions (which, however, will go beyond the dangers that may be caused to third parties).
Article 22 of the Spanish Law on Occupational Health and Safety specifies the cases when medical examinations are established as mandatory:
1. When the health condition of the employee poses a potential danger to the following persons or groups:
- The own worker
- The rest of employees
- Other people who are related to the company
2. When the examination becomes essential to be able to evaluate the effects of work conditions.
3. When determined by a legal provision, related to the prevention of specific risks or especially dangerous activities.
However, we must also highlight an exception to the exceptions: when the risk affects exclusively the worker himself, he will be who decides whether or not to submit to said medical examination.