Health surveillance

How can OHRMS assist you?

  1. We can assist you with your risk assessments;

  2. We can assist you in writing the correct policies for health surveillance that take into account the most effective and 'reasonably practicable' ways to comply with the law andprovide the best compromise between workplace risks and costs;

  3. We can carry out the health surveillance you require for your employees;

  4. We can independantly audit your existing occupational health service to assist you in getting the right service.

OHRMSis expert at advising employers regarding workplace risks and any remaining compliance gaps that could lead to legal liabilities or remaining health risks for your employees.

Contact us here.

Need more information? Read more below about health surveillance, legal duties, the purpose of health surveillance and who should carry out health surveillance.

What is Health Surveillance and when do employers have to do it?

Carrying out health surveillance is a legal requirement under various pieces of Health & Safety law. The main pieces of legislation are the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Control of Hazardous Substances at work Regulations 2002 (as amended ). Further regulations have been made for noise, vibration, asbestos, ionising radiation and lead exposure. Working in compressed air and commercial diving also require a statutory medical examination but this is more focussed on fitness for these types of work rather than trying to detect early signs of adverse effect or ill-health from exposure.

The purposeof health surveillance is to gather information on the employees' health in order to protect them from health risks at work.

Health surveillance is usually required when all of the following conditions are broadly met (for the exact legal definition please consult the regulations):

  1. The health hazard causes a bigger than insignificant health risk;

  2. It is likely that this risk can occur in your workplace;

  3. There is a good way to detect early exposure (biological monitoring), early effects of exposure or early changes in health;

  4. And the health surveillance method is of acceptable risk to the health of the employees. In other words, it will not harm or be too unpleasant for the employees.

Health surveillance should always be based on a competent risk assessment of the workplace. Obviously this requires knowledge of that workplace. OHRMSis expert at providing advice on risk assessment or audit your existing risk assessments and health surveillance arrangements.

When health surveillance is carried, out the employer is also required to keep a health record. This contains employee and workplace exposure information and the results of the successive health surveillance activities.

Health surveillance can range from a simple skin check by a trained ('responsible') person to more involved examinations by a nurse or physician. This may include further tests to look for exposure or effects of exposure. In general, onlyhealth surveillance for the most simple and low risk work activities may be carried out by trained responsible persons. In this scenario your responsible persons should be regularly trained by competent health professionals so they know what to look for. If they notice something out of the ordinary they must be able to immediately refer to a competent occupational health professional for further assessment.

As soon as the risks are no longer of a simple and low risknature, the complexity of the health risk should be matched by the competency of the person under whose responsibility the health surveillance is carried out. Technical examination, such as urine sampling, lung function testing or health questionnaires may be delegated to suitably trained technicians or nurses. However, health surveillance policies should always be under the supervision of a qualified health professional. The level of training and qualification of this health professional depends on the complexity of the risk for which health surveillance is carried out. In other words, the more complex the risks, the sooner you would need a qualified and/or specialist occupational physician to advise on and oversee your health surveillance programme.

OHRMS Ltd 2012