Health Surveillance

Are you keeping your employees safe? Our H&S consultant Adam WIlliams has offered guidance for employers regarding health surveillance.

Is Health Surveillance required in my workplace?

The starting point to decide if there is a requirement for your business is your risk assessment. Through this, you will have found any of the hazards your workplace can bring to your employees, identified who is at risk and take the necessary measures needed to control the risks.

Where some risk remains and there is likely to be harm caused to your workforce, you will need to take further steps. Consider health surveillance if your employees are at risk from:

  • Noise or vibration
  • Solvents, dust, fumes, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health
  • Asbestos, lead or work in compressed air
  • Ionising radiation

Control measures may not always be reliable, despite appropriate checking and maintenance, so health surveillance can help make sure that any ill health effects are detected as early as possible.

For complex situations and work with very hazardous materials or agents, you may wish to seek help from a competent source.

If you have already carried out health surveillance as described here, factor in the results in your revised risk assessment.

Do I need it?

If the risk to health after the implementation of all reasonable precautions remains, you may need to put a health surveillance programme in place. Health surveillance is required if all the following criteria are met:

  • There is an identifiable disease or adverse health effect and evidence of a link with workplace exposure
  • It is likely that disease health effects may occur
  • There are valid techniques for detecting early signs of the disease’s health effect
  • These techniques do not pose a risk to employees

What sort of health surveillance do I need?

In its simplest form, health surveillance could involve employees checking themselves for signs or symptoms of ill health following a training session on what to look for and to who they should report symptoms to. For example, if an employee works with substances that can irritate or damage the skin and begins to notice soreness, redness and itching on their hands and arms, this should be reported to the appropriate person in the business.

A person can be trained to make routine basic checks, such as skin inspections or signs of rashes. This could be a supervisor, employee representative or first aider. For more complicated assessments, an occupational health nurse or an occupational health doctor can ask about any symptoms employees may face or carry out periodic examinations.

There are also a number of high-hazard substances or agents where the law requires that the health surveillance programme includes statutory medical surveillance. Statutory medical surveillance involves a medical examination and possibly tests by a qualified doctor with appropriate training and experience. The doctor must have been appointed by HSE.

Medical surveillance is a legal requirement for the following workplace exposures:

It is important to remember that when implementing a health surveillance programme, it may not be necessary for all employees as it can provide misleading results and be a waste of money.

If you need support when implementing a health surveillance programme in your workplace, or would just like to discuss the importance of this risk management practice in your business further, get in contact with our team of experts today.

T: 0330 107 1037


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