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Occupational Health – What is Health Surveillance?

Smiling Advisor and burnt out employee

Published at 10:01am 8th November 2018.

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Wrightway Health

Health Surveillance ensures that an effective system is in place for managing ongoing health checks for staff. Baseline tests are conducted to determine a healthy norm for the employee, and long-term testing determines deviation from that norm.

In certain industries and certain job roles, it’s required by law. Construction workers are one prime example, as they are often exposed to hazards such as noise from loud machinery, vibrations from equipment (power tools and pneumatic drills) and potentially hazardous substances.

Health Surveillance packages can be tailored to your business, an employee’s role and to specific requirements from the HSE or another governing body. Occupational Health providers are well-positioned to outline statutory requirements, as well as suggestions for ensuring staff safety and wellbeing. Common health tests include:

  • General Health Check – height / weight / BMI / BP / Cholesterol
  • Audiometry – Hearing
  • Spirometry – Lung Function
  • Hand Arm Vibration – HAVS
  • Skin Assessments
  • Grip Strength
  • Vision Screening – colour, peripheral, glare and acuity
  • Urinalysis
  • Musculoskeletal tests
  • Drug and Alcohol Screening
  • Biological Monitoring – for chemicals such as Isocyanates

Is it compulsory for my business to have Health Surveillance in place?

Certain job roles need to have a programme in place to comply with the law. Typically, the following workers need Health Surveillance in place:

  • Construction workers
  • Those at risk from solvents, dust, fumes, biological agents and other hazardous substances, (offshore and process engineers)
  • Those working with asbestos, lead or in compressed air
  • Workers at risk from ionising radiation

A full assessment is required to establish what exactly is needed from a Health Surveillance programme.

The HSE has a decision-making map on their website which also helps to establish whether Health Surveillance is required.

How important is Health Surveillance?

It’s extremely important, often a legal requirement and in many cases crucial to preventing ill-health and injury to the staff! In a previous post, we discussed a case where a manufacturing firm breached the Health and Safety at Work Act for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). They were fined just under £120,000.

Another similar case involving the UK’s largest construction contractor, Balfour Beatty, resulted in a £500,000 fine! Despite being one of the world’s leaders in their industry, they failed over several years to control exposure to hand-arm vibration.

By not complying with the law, businesses risk their employees’ health as well as substantial fines and disruption caused to the business. Most importantly, injuries and deaths can occur as a result of negligence.

Do things the Wrightway - avoid fines, and protect your staff

Get in touch with the team at Wrightway Health as they can provide a comprehensive Health Surveillance programme which covers your business and keeps your staff healthy. To find out more, they have a dedicated Health Surveillance page on their website.

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