Tragic incidents such as the Glasgow bin lorry crash highlight the myriad of issues that an employer has to deal with in the wake of a major incident involving one of its employees; issues such as employment recruitment practices, health and safety and even criminal prosecutions typically have to be addressed.
One of the key employment issues arising out of the Glasgow bin lorry crash was that the driver of the vehicle had an undisclosed history of medical problems. Certainly the question of pre-employment medical checks is a vexed one and with the risk of disability discrimination if the wrong questions are asked for the wrong reasons, employers are understandably cautious.
This does not mean that medical checks cannot or should not be used. Ascertaining someone’s fitness to carry out a role requires an assessment of their physical and mental capability, especially where the role is high risk or could potentially have an impact on the health and safety of others.
This has been recognised for some time in areas such as manufacturing and engineering where employees may be working with heavy machinery or chemicals. For jobs with a less pronounced requirement for physical exertion or less obvious risk medical checks typically involve only a basic questionnaire asking for disclosure of any medical condition.