Under European and UK legislation, employees who are exposed to certain hazards in the workplace require regular health surveillance to:
- Detect ill-health effects at an early stage
- Identify anyone at particular risk of disease
- Prevent disabling illness/disease
- Check on whether your control measures are working
- Protect the health of employees
- Help people stay in work
- Health Record – Every worker who needs health surveillance should have a health record
Health records are mandatory under legislation
A health record is different to a clinical record and does not include confidential clinical data.
A health record should be kept for as long as the person is employed by your company.
You may need to retain health records for up to 50 years but this depends on specific legislation (e.g. Ionising Radiation)
Exposure to Noise at Work
Hearing loss can occur from prolonged exposure to noise. Hearing may also be damaged by sudden extreme loud noises. Noise exposure can also cause tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears).
Under Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 there is a specific requirement to provide health surveillance (audiometric hearing tests) for workers at risk. Health surveillance is required for all employees frequently exposed above 85dB, and also for particular individuals at risk exposed to noise above 80dB.
A health (surveillance) record of the outcome, and fitness to work in a noisy environment, must be kept by management.
Exposure to Vibration at Work
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a medical condition caused by vibration transmitted from work processes into employees’ hands.
Workers using tools which transmit vibration may require health surveillance in the form of regular checks for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
We have a tiered system of screening for symptoms and signs, as required by HSE – initial paperscreen, nurse review, doctor review – depending on the results at each stage.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is reportable under the RIDDOR regulations to HSE.
Exposure to Chemicals at Work – skin surveillance
Where employees are exposed to “substances hazardous to health” they may require regular health surveillance under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 Regulations COSHH.
Health surveillance is appropriate where there is exposure to substances known to cause:
- skin irritation
- skin sensitisation
- oil acne
- skin cancer
Exposure to Substances at Work – respiratory surveillance
Certain chemical substances can cause sensitisation in employees and result in occupational asthma e.g isocynates, wood dust, flour dust, laboratory animals, etc. Where employees are exposed to respiratory sensitisers then a programme of health surveillance is needed under COSHH. This means a simple questionnaire for symptoms and will require lung function tests by the occupational health nurse adviser.
Exposure to respirable silica dust at work will require health surveillance.
Some dusts, fumes, mists or gases can cause lung disease, and may require health monitoring in the form of a questionnaire and lung function tests.