What is Health Surveillance Important For?

13th August 2019

If your employees are exposed to hazards within their job role which may affect their health and safety, then you are required to carry out risk assessments of these hazards. The risks should then be monitored and controlled, and where applicable, health surveillance should be carried out.

What is Health Surveillance?

Occupational health surveillance involves watching out for early signs of work-related ill health in employees exposed to certain health risks. These health risks include factors such as; noise, vibrations, dust, biological agents, chemicals, radiation, asbestos, fumes.

The service involves tests, questionnaires and examinations that are carried out by trained staff members who then evaluate the results in order to take appropriate action. It may also require employees self-checking for signs and symptoms of ill health.

Required by Law

As a duty of care, the HSE requires all employers to assess the Health and Wellbeing of their staff members, especially for those working in more hazardous industries such as construction. As part of this, the HSE expects you to undertake health surveillance on an ongoing-basis to make sure your employees are as safe as possible in their job role.

Detect Ill-Health Early

If detected at an early enough stage, ill-health and negative effects of workplace hazards can be managed and treated. If ignored, effects could worsen and your employee could be left with life changing injuries or illnesses.

Finding it early also means measures can be put into place to effectively reduce and manage the risks causing the ill-health, as it shows the measures currently in place are not working. This will prevent similar outcomes for other employees.

Provides the Right Data for Evaluation

Health surveillance covers a wide range of hazardous areas, so it’s vital to make sure that all of these are covered in the assessment. If any are missed, you might be putting your employees in real danger, so it needs to be carried out by a trained and responsible person or provider.

Employees Can Have Their Say

The assessment gives employees the opportunity to raise any concerns about how their work is affecting their health and safety. This gives the assessor more to work off when it comes to evaluating the risks in the workplace.

Highlight Areas of Improvement

It’s crucial to identify areas within the workplace that need improvement before they begin to have a seriously damaging effect on the employee’s health, safety and wellness. The health surveillance assessment will highlight these areas and allow employers to fix them before they become a problem.

Educate your Staff Members

Staff members should be educated on the importance of using the protective equipment supplied to them, not just how they should use it. When employees are not aware of the real dangers involved with their work, they tend to ignore safety procedures and see certain protective equipment as a hassle. Health surveillance helps employees understand the implications of not following procedure and the health and safety impacts they may face.

If you would like to understand more about health surveillance or would like a comprehensive health surveillance policy that works – we can help. Get in touch to see how David Barber Occupational Health can help your workplace with professional health surveillance services.

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