Health Surveillance can be tricky to get your head around as an employer. Some of the tricky aspects come from making a clear diagnosis of medical conditions and whether or not the condition is attributable to work or not.
Employees may have arrived at your company with symptoms or conditions. Many may develop symptoms whilst employed by you.
Determining if it is attributable to work can be tricky so regular and sustained health surveillance programmes must be implemented. Working out if an employee’s symptoms are related to a hobby or interest outside of work is also difficult, or a medical condition that is affecting them at work and causing symptoms.
There are a few conditions that can be difficult to distinguish such as Carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) and Raynaud’s phenomenon.
What is Carpel tunnel syndrome?
Carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition causing pressure on a nerve in your wrist. It can cause you to have tingling or pins and needles, a weak thumb or difficulty gripping, aches and pain in your fingers and hands or numbness.
What causes carpel tunnel syndrome?
CTS can be caused by a variety of things such as being overweight, another illness such as arthritis or Diabetes or an injury. It can also be caused by work or a hobby that causes you to bend your wrist or grip hard such as using vibrating tools.
What is Raynaud’s phenomenon?
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition that affects circulation. It can cause many of the same symptoms as CTS but can be differentiated by the way in which it can affect your circulation when you are cold, stressed or anxious.
It can cause your fingers and toes to change colour to white or significantly paler where blood flow is restricted. Both conditions are painful and debilitating and can cause someone to be affected at work or be absent from work.
Both conditions have similar or the same symptoms to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) so it is vital that HAVS health surveillance is carried out regularly at the recommended timeframes and that it is carried out by a suitably qualified person as set out in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
How do you identify the conditions?
As a starting point, employers should use the HSE’s health surveillance cycle to get their health surveillance started. An essential part of the process is engaging a qualified Occupational Health provider(s).
We have some very experienced Occupational Health doctors and nurses within OHC. All of whom have years of experience in a variety of Occupational Health settings.
Dr Roger Cooke is a leading expert in the field with regard to HAVS. Dr Cooke and Dr Susanna Gillibrand, another of OHC’s Physicians have written an article entitled Carpal tunnel syndrome and Raynaud’s phenomenon: a narrative review 2022.
As occupational health providers, we help ensure that you and your employees are compliant with our health surveillance and safety critical medicals.
Call us today and take the first step to a safer work environment.