What is Health Surveillance?
- Health Surveillance should not be confused with general health screening or health promotion.
- Health Surveillance is a statutory requirement for employees who are exposed to substances that could be hazardous to their health.
Health Surveillance Can :
- Help to detect ill health effects at an early stage and assist employers to determine if their risk assessments and monitoring are effective.
- Provide data to help employers evaluate health risks
- Highlight any concerns regarding the effect of work on health and health on work both in short and long term.
- Provide an opportunity to reinforce training and education of employees.
- Evaluate the impact of health effects and the use of protective equipment.
Health Surveillance is a Statutory requirement and must be carried out. It is estimated that there are around 2,000 deaths related to work in the UK from exposure to chemicals and dust with 1.1 million workers suffering from work related illness in 2011/12.
Examples Of Health Surveillance
- Skin/Dermatology assessment for those exposed to oils and hazardous substances. This involves a questionnaire, a physical inspection of the hands and arms, questions about how the person looks after their hands in work – and advice is given on best practice.
- Lung function screening for those exposed to respiratory irritants- welders, dust exposure, fumes etc. This involves a questionnaire, followed by a lung function test.
- Hearing tests for those exposed to noise and involves a questionnaire, followed by an ear examination and full hearing test.
- Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome screening for those using vibrating equipment. Tier 1 and 2 is a questionnaire and depending on the answers we may recommend a combined Tier 3 and 4 screening. This is a more detailed questionnaire and includes clinical examination.
After the Health Surveillance a health record will be produced which will be retained by the employer as proof of screening being carried out. This is the proof that health surveillance has been carried out. Health surveillance is only useful if systems are monitored and assessments are carried out regularly.