How we’ve continued to provide face to face health surveillance during Covid-19
Back in March 2020, we stopped all face-to-face health surveillance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The risks to employees and our staff meant that we could not continue with face-to-face appointments. We adapted our business and took it online using our specialist OH software system and made use of technology with video and telephone appointments.
By August 2020 we tentatively restarted face to face safety critical medicals with our staff equipped with full PPE, Perspex screens and cleaning equipment. With the exception of a brief halt again in January and February of 2021 for face-to-face health surveillance, (we continued with essential safety critical medicals), we have managed to continue with face-to-face health surveillance.
The HSE has supported the continuation of health surveillance throughout the pandemic as the risks have still existed for the staff exposed to hazards in the workplace. The purpose of health surveillance is to protect the health of employees by detecting early any adverse changes or diseases. It also allows us to collect data or evaluate health hazards and control measures that are already in place. Health surveillance is not health screening or wellbeing medicals, it is a legal requirement under health and safety legislation.
Health surveillance should be planned and regular and be kept up to date, it’s really important to keep your programme going and not miss any new starters or employees who require further assessment. It is not enough to just ask employees to complete questionnaires as the results need to be interpreted by suitably qualified health professionals like us at Occupational Health Consultancy! This is because you as an employer may need to take action to eliminate or control exposure, and in some cases, restrictions for the individual employees may be required in the short, medium, or long term.
The outcomes of the health surveillance are personal.
Occupational Health professionals must provide the employer with general information such as they are fit to continue working with respiratory sensitisers or vibrating tools, and that the employee has been assessed further if required to determine fitness for work, but the medical details will be kept confidential like any other medical information.
During the pandemic, we have taken on board new customers looking to start their health surveillance programmes as a result of audits or HSE inspections. Or clients who have struggled with getting face to face clinics restarted.
Not all employees have access to IT or are IT literate to complete their surveillance online. Throughout the pandemic, we have carried out comprehensive risk assessments on carrying our out clinics and continue to review and update as the situation with case numbers and rules changes.
Very often the management of Health Surveillance programmes is a small part of someone’s job within an organisation and can seem daunting. We are here to help and support.
As occupational health providers, we offer training for employers on how to manage Health Surveillance programmes, see our website for further details on the next course we are running. Or why not give our team a call to discuss your requirements.