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Health surveillance

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

If your employees are exposed to certain hazards within your workplace, you may be legally obliged to carry out health surveillance to detect early signs of work-related ill health.

Do I need to carry out health surveillance?

Health surveillance is not a requirement for all employers. It only needs to be carried out if your employees are exposed to hazards that can cause disease or adversely impact their health.

You will know if you are required to carry out health surveillance after you have carried out a risk assessment, as that should identify all the health hazards in your workplace.

The type of workplace hazards that may require you to carry out health surveillance include:

  • noise or vibration;
  • solvents;
  • fumes;
  • chemicals;
  • dusts;
  • asbestos;
  • lead.

How health surveillance can be carried out

Health surveillance can be a condition of employment for new employees to ensure medical fitness for the job, or it can be carried out periodically for jobs with specific hazards.

It can also be used to detect any deterioration in the health of employees and ensure engineering controls and safe systems.

As part of a health surveillance programme, health surveillance should be carried out by suitably qualified occupational health professionals.

However, to assist in early detection, a ‘responsible person’ within your organisation can be trained to check for basic signs and symptoms among employees that may be connected to working with the particular hazards.

A ‘responsible person’ may issue questionnaires to employees to gather basic health indicators and early warning signs associated with exposure to hazards that would warrant a referral to an occupational health professional.

For more guidance on carrying out health surveillance, see the HSE website.

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