Managing Your Health Surveillance Process

21st November 2018

A Health Surveillance process is put in place to monitor and control ongoing hazards that pose risk to your employees. It is not uncommon for monitoring these hazards to be a legal requirement in a distribution, storage or warehousing setting, therefore your compliance is crucial. To make sure you are protecting your business and your employees, ensuring your process is fully cohesive should be a step you take. Our guidelines will help you to better manage this process so that you can ensure you’re protecting your employees and are fully compliant with legislation.

Health Hazards & Risks In Your Workplace

It is important to think about the level of risk your employees are being exposed to so that an occupational health adviser can outline any health and safety issues or need for occupational health input. Hazards can be of either a physical, chemical or biological nature. Common hazards may include (but are not limited to) :

  • Noise/Vibration
  • Solvents
  • Fumes
  • Dusts

HSE specifies that if you expose employees to hazards, you must reduce the risk as far as is reasonably practicable. Therefore, the next step to take is to evaluate what risks your employees may face as a result of being exposed to these hazards. Naturally, this will depend on the nature of your working environment, whether these risks include inhaling dangerous fumes or accidents that can come as a result of forklift and mobile plant machinery. Next, it’s time to consider the suitability of your risk assessment in line with these hazards you have identified, as this will help outline your need for Health Surveillance. However, it is important you do not use a risk assessment in place of Health Surveillance.

Do You Need Health Surveillance?

You should now be at the stage to make an informed decision as to whether or not you require Health Surveillance. If you should come to the conclusion that you do not require Health Surveillance, it is important to review your risks and hazards regularly to ensure you protect your employees at all times. On the other hand, if you decide you do need Health Surveillance, there are further checks and processes to carry out.

You Need Health Surveillance

Once you’ve identified your need for Health Surveillance, it’ll be time to think about the nature of the risks and hazards in greater detail. Are any of the hazards that you have identified covered by legislation? Substances hazardous to health are defined under COSHH as those that are: ‘Very Toxic, Toxic, Corrosive, Harmful or Irritant.’ (source). This includes substances allocated in the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) in EH40 , as well as levels of dust and certain biological agents. Looking at industry legislation and guidelines should help you better identify whether the exposure is hazardous. However, if you are unsure, this is where the DB Occupational Health team can come in and help you – safety is our priority.
If the hazards you have identified are not covered by legislation, you will need to consider the level of risks these pose to your employees. Can these risks be eliminated or controlled? Again, this might be something you do not have the knowledge or expertise to decipher and that’s where a Health Surveillance team can assist. Alternatively, you may conclude that these risks are not something you can adequately control in-house, and where it is important to get an experienced Health Surveillance officer involved.

What Else Is Health Surveillance For?

After going through this process, you may not have identified any substances or conditions that need controlling, but that doesn’t mean Health Surveillance can’t still benefit your business. At David Barber Occupational Health, we can also assist with absence management to help you prepare and manage for sickness within the workplace – helping you to stay productive! Our team also work to give your employees the opportunity to raise any concerns about how their work is affecting their health, as well as providing education on the importance of using protective equipment properly at all times. Health Surveillance is there to help your employees to work better, healthier and more safely.

Make sure to regularly review your working conditions, risks and hazards to assess where and when you should bring in a Health Surveillance team in. Get in touch to see how David Barber Occupational Health can help your workplace with professional health surveillance services.

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