Health Surveillance is about systematically watching out for early signs of work related ill health in employees exposed to a certain health risk in their job. It requires putting in place certain procedures to achieve this.
The starting point is through risk assessment with identification of the risk and measures taken to control the risk. Health Surveillance is not a substitute for controlling a health risk at work.
The Occupational Health Service works with Health and Safety Service to assist in hazard control and accident prevention and provides advice on a wide range issues. We undertake health surveillance as a means of monitoring and assessing individuals undertaking work known to carry health risks.
The health surveillance requires varies dependant on the risk concerned. It can range from maintain a record of an individual’s exposure updated at regular intervals or biological monitoring such as lung function measurements. It may include ensuring that relevant immunisations are up to date.
For exposure to some other health risk such as manual handling, work related upper limb disorder, work that might give rise to stress related disease and symptoms from whole body vibration, there are no specific legal requirements for health surveillance. However, there are clear recommendations for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on how these should be managed. This is mainly because valid ways to detect ill health do not exist yet and/or the link between work and an ill health condition is uncertain. In these cases, we use other methods to monitor the health of employees exposed to these risks, such as encouraging symptoms of reporting and checking sickness records.