Health Surveillance is a process that is put in place to monitor and control the risks of hazards to employees over a prolonged period of time. The main purpose of it is to make sure that all the necessary measures have been taken to reduce the risk, so you can protect your employees to best of your ability. But what are the questions you need to be asking to make sure your employees are safe and protected whilst they’re at work?
The first logical question to answer is who is actually affected in your workplace. It’s important to understand which of your employees are exposed to hazards as part of their job role. These hazards could come in the form of noise, solvents, fumes or harmful dust and they can be of a physical, chemical or biological nature.
The HSE specifies that if you expose employees to hazards, you must reduce the risk as far as reasonably practicable. That’s where bringing in an occupational health specialist can help. An occupational health team such as ourselves will undertake a thorough investigation of your workplace. Our findings can then either help provide you with the reassurance that the measures you have in place to control risks are effective, or we will suggest control measures to put in place.
The next important step is to identify exactly what hazards employees are being exposed to. As we mentioned above, these can come in a range of states, and present themselves within many situations. Secondly, you must work out whether you have the right measures in place to control these hazards, or if you need to bring in an occupational health team to help. Alternatively, you may already have preventive measures in place, but they are not being used appropriately. For example, you may have had your employees face-fit tested, but they might not be wearing their RPE to carry out the job. In this case, it’s important to inform employees of the risks they are facing by not wearing their RPE and then inform them of the importance of wearing it when on the job.
So after asking yourself who is affected and what by, it’s important to ask when; when do you need to act? It is your duty to protect your employees, so if you haven’t acted already, now is the time to. Getting an occupational health adviser in the key to making sure that your workplace has been thoroughly assessed for all potential significant exposure risks.
It is important that both you as an employer and your employees know where to go for guidance should you have an query regarding safety at work. For yourselves, you can get further information from organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS). For your employees, as well as educating them before carrying out the job, you can remind them with posters and refer them to their employee handbook should they need reminding of the procedure they should follow. After having an occupational health team in, your employees should be well informed of how to protect themselves at work.
So why is health surveillance, and monitoring and controlling risks in the workplace so important? In 2016/2017 alone, over 1.3 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health, showing that this is a real issue within workplaces in the UK. As an employer, it is your responsibility to look after your employees, to ensure they are protected and safe at work. If you would like to find out more about health surveillance or would like to get in touch with our team about keeping your employees safe from exposure to hazards, you can do here. We’re here to help you protect your team, and keep your employees happy and productive.
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