- Involve your workers
- Statutory medicals
- Specific requirements for health surveillance
- Occupational health referral
Health surveillance is about systematic, regular checks on workers to identify early signs of ill health, and then acting on the results.
Health surveillance is needed to:
- protect workers who are at an increased risk;
- identify work-related ill health at an early stage so that steps can be taken to treat the condition and prevent further damage; and
- give early warning that protective control measures are no longer effective.
Health surveillance does not reduce the need to eliminate or manage health risks.
You may conduct other health checks, including fitness-for-work checks for safety-critical workers, and general health checks for all workers.
- Formal health surveillance is only necessary if work damages health in a particular way and the following three factors all apply:
- there is a valid way to detect a disease or condition; and
- it is reasonably likely that damage to health will occur under the particular conditions at work; and
- health surveillance is likely to benefit the employee.
Very loud noise is known to damage hearing. Hearing tests can detect the effect of noise on the hearing of people who work in noisy conditions. Hearing tests will benefit employees by identifying those at risk so that you can take measures to protect them and improve working conditions.
Health surveillance might be appropriate for workers who are exposed to:
- hazardous substances, eg: skin or respiratory sensitisers; asbestos; lead;
- hand-arm vibration; or
- radiation (eg industrial radiography).
You may need help from an occupational health nurse or doctor to set up a suitable health surveillance system, and to agree a ‘referral’ system.
Three important points to remember are that:
- you must keep records of health surveillance that is carried out;
- people must be competent to do health surveillance;
- health surveillance will only work if you act on the results – it should be clear how and when people will be referred for further examination and how the results will be used to improve the way that you manage health risks.
Health and safety law only requires employers to provide health surveillance for employees, and only then if formal surveillance is appropriate. However, workers who you treat as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes may be seen as employees in the context of health and safety.
Analysing the results of your health surveillance and monitoring gives an insight into how well your control measures protect workers. Use the results to help target your efforts effectively. Share this information with your employees and their safety representatives.
Some larger contractors use a common occupational health provider for their business units and subsidiaries. This can help to improve the quality and continuity of health surveillance and monitoring if tradesmen move between different parts of the business. Alternatively, you may be interested to know more about the Constructing Better Health scheme.
To contact us, please call 0333 2400 308 or email us.