What is health surveillance?
Most people have heard the term ‘risk assessment’; health surveillance is the term used for health checks required by law as a result of identifying hazards in the workplace through risk assessment.
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 already in place. Health surveillance is not health screening or well-being medicals; it is a legal requirement under health and safety legislation and should be seen as a crucial aspect of any occupational health program.
Why is it important?
Health surveillance is not health screening or well-being medicals, it is a legal requirement under health and safety legislation. By not doing health surveillance, you are breaking the law and potentially causing harm to your employees by exposing them to various occupational health conditions, some of which may be irreversible.
Our health surveillance services
- Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
- There are also number of medical surveillance checks such as Lead and asbestos.
Health surveillance process
The health surveillance process starts with the employer carrying out risk assessments to identify areas where control measures are required and subsequent health surveillance checks put in place.
Once the need for health surveillance is identified, we can help with the next steps. We even have a fantastic course called Health Surveillance 101 which takes you through every step of health surveillance and the setup of an ongoing programme.
We have a dedicated database which will keep track of who needs what surveillance and when and will produce all the certificates required as evidence for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) should they come to your premises to inspect them.
We will organise the clinic for you and send occupational health staff members to your site to carry out the clinic or at our site if that is more convenient. Once the appointments have taken place, you will be issued certificates and a recall date for the next appointment. If anyone needs an onward referral, we will take care of that too. We always ensure that the health surveillance cycle is complete.
You don’t need to worry about when employees are due for subsequent surveillance; we will keep track and send you reminders. We will take care of everything each step of the way.
Occupational health surveillance
Is health surveillance required in my workplace?
The only way to determine if health surveillance is required in your workplace is to conduct risk assessments. The kinds of workplaces that require health surveillance are environments where employees are exposed to hazards such as noise, for example, with loud tools or equipment, where employees use vibrating tools, and where they are exposed to dust and substances that come under COSSH, such as chemicals. There are so many these are just a few.
How regularly should health surveillance be conducted?
Health surveillance is generally an annual appointment but can be sooner if there is a clinical need, if there are changes in the job role, or if the employee is new then they will need to be seen sooner than a year. It is really important to capture new starts within the first few weeks of their employment.
For example, with audiometry if you are category 1 or 2 then once you have had annual audios for two years you won’t need to be seen for three years.
You may have employees who are at risk of exposure to dangerous substances such as ionising radiation, lead and asbestos. All of our statutory medicals are carried out by HSE approved doctors, meaning you can be safe and confident knowing that you are legally compliant.
Most large construction sites now require workers entering the sites to demonstrate that they are medically fit and safe to work there. If you have employees that are about to go onsite where a Safety critical medical is a requirement, please contact us for further information and how to book.
Frequently Asked Questions
The aim of health surveillance is to spot early signs of work-related ill health and to prevent symptoms from getting worse or stopping them all together. Health surveillance checks to ensure the control measures you have in place area working to prevent any harm to workers health.
If you use a noisy piece of equipment or machinery at work the employer as part of their risk assessment must try to eliminate the risk entirely, if they are not able to do that, they will need to put control measures in place such as wearing hearing protection. To ensure the control measure (i.e., hearing protection) is doing its job to protect hearing audiometry (Hearing tests) need to be performed to ensure there is no damage to workers hearing.
Occupational health has the power to help both employees and employers to ensure they work in a safe and productive area.
Both sides can advise how to create positive workplaces that encourage growth and well-being for all working there.
They provide impartial, medical evidence-based advice and it is up to the business or manager to decide what the business can sustain. OH is advisory only.
Health Surveillance gives occupational health the power to ensure the standards are met for a safe working environment with good control measures and good health.
Health surveillance is a legal requirement where the risk has been eliminated as much as possible, but risk remains, and control measures are put in place. Those control measures need to be tested to ensure they are working.
Health surveillance must be carried out by a ‘competent person’, someone who has been fully trained in gathering the data from employees. The results must be interpreted by someone qualified in Occupational Health such as a nurse of doctor.
After health surveillance has taken place, you will receive the results as a ‘record of health surveillance’. You need to keep these records as evidence to the HSE that you have carried out the surveillance. You must have them easily accessible should you need them.
You need to act on the results and review your risk assessments.
Preparing employees for health surveillance will hopefully alleviate some of their anxieties surrounding health surveillance. Talk to them, explain what it is and what will happen. It is totally confidential; employers will get the results but will not be told medical details.
Occupational health will be able to provide further information for employees to help them understand what health surveillance is.
Health surveillance programmes are part of your health and safety procedures in the workplace. Unfortunately, if they refuse to attend or engage then they would be in breach of your health and safety procedures.
Health surveillance is a legal requirement and is required as part of an organisation’s health and safety processes. It is not optional.
Health screening can mean a number of things, organisations may choose to do a preplacement health screening, which is a health form employees complete when they have been offered a job, to ensure any workplace adjustments are put in place when they start work.
Screening could be well-being checks such as blood pressure and lifestyle screening. These are optional and entirely up to the employer if they wish to offer them.
Safety Critical medicals are best-practice screening medicals to work in safety critical roles and environments they are not a legal requirement, but many companies and sites require them as part of their own health and safety policies.