Health surveillance is a series of ongoing health checks, some of which may be required by law. They are designed to identify and assess the potential risk from health hazards in the workplace. This will take the form of periodic screening and/or examination of individuals who may be exposed to potentially harmful substances or physical hazards which may affect their health. Health surveillance establishes a base line health status from which to monitor change and measure the effectiveness of the control measures in place. Advice and guidance will be given in accordance to the health surveillance results.
The results of your health surveillance screening will be discussed with you at the end of testing. If your results require further testing by your GP or medical specialist, you will be informed of this and given your test results to pass on to the relevant person.
Your results are held securely as medical in confidence documents for 40 years. A database of records, without names, is kept for audit by the HSE at any given time. https://www.hse.gov.uk/health-surveillance/record-keeping/index.htm
You will be asked for consent to share the results of your health surveillance screening with your manager. This will be in the form of a Fitness to Work certificate and no medical information will be detailed on the certificate.
Why do we provide health surveillance?
- Health surveillance is required by law. Your employer has a legal duty of care to look after your health and must allow you to attend a health surveillance appointment.
- To set baseline health records for workers who are at an increased risk
- To detect work related ill health at an early stage and implement controls to prevent them getting worse.
- To advise on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- To advise employees who may have concerns about how work affects their health.
Your employer has a duty to appoint your manager or a person with the relevant experience and skills to conduct a risk assessment of your work. This is required to ensure your health and safety in every aspect related to your role.
Health surveillance should not be used as a replacement or alternative to Risk Assessments.
Health Surveillance screening tests include:
Spirometry screening is carried out to ensure your breathing is not affected by the work you do or anything you are exposed to at work, for example, dust, fumes, chemicals, allergens.
Spirometry screening measures:
- vital capacity – how much air you can inhale and exhale
- forced vital capacity – the amount of air you can forcibly exhale from your lungs after fully inhaling
Your hearing test can show if you have any loss of hearing either caused by your job role or your hobbies. The test involves identifying a sequence of tones and volumes.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
HAVS screening is used to detect whether working with vibrating tools is affecting your hands, arms or circulation or aggravating any underlying medical condition you may have.
The Ishihara vision test is used to determine colour blindness
Skin surveillance is used to identify early signs of contact dermatitis resulting from the use of irritants in the workplace.
The Health Surveillance Code of Practice is available to view here: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/media/environmental-health-and-safety-services/occupational-health/HealthSurveillance-CodeofPractice.doc