Health Surveillance

Health Surveillance involves health checks designed to detect health effects from specific hazards.

The objectives of these checks are:

• To protect the health of staff by detecting adverse health effects as early as possible.
• To assess the effectiveness of measures to control exposure.
• To collect information about hazards in the workplace.

Most checks are undertaken by questionnaire initially. Staff exposed to some hazards are also invited for tests such as hearing tests or breathing tests. Examples of hazards for which employers have a legal duty to do these checks are:

• Very noisy workplaces – hearing tests
• Some vibrating tools – consultation with the nurse or doctor
• Substances which can cause asthma – questionnaire and sometimes breathing tests
• Substances which can cause dermatitis – skin inspection

Outcomes

In most cases, no adverse health effects are found. In a small minority of cases further investigations are needed to assess possible adverse health effects. If a serious adverse health effect is found, the doctor or nurse may recommend some adjustments to work which could include the following:

• Improved systems of work
• Installing safer equipment
• Additional training
• Use of additional protective clothing
• Transfer to other work

Medical details will only be made available to managers in so far as it is necessary to enable them to discharge their management responsibilities.