Health surveillance involves tests or health checks which are designed to detect any adverse health effects from specific hazards. The objectives of these checks are to protect the health of employees by detecting adverse health effects as early as possible and to assess the effectiveness of measures to control exposure.
Most checks are undertaken by questionnaire initially. Staff exposed to some hazards are also invited for tests such as hearing tests or breathing tests. Examples of hazards for which employers have a legal duty to do these checks are:
- Very noisy workplaces - hearing tests
- Some vibrating hand held tools - consultation with the Nurse or Doctor
- Substances which can cause asthma - questionnaire and sometimes breathing test
- Substances which can cause dermatitis such as Latex - questionnaire and sometimes skin inspection
In most cases, no adverse health effects are found. In a small minority of cases further investigations are needed to assess possible adverse health effects. If a serious adverse health effect is found, the Doctor or Nurse may recommend some adjustments to work which could include the following:
- Improved systems of work
- Installing safer equipment
- Additional training
- Use of additional protective clothing or equipment
- Transfer to other work
Medical details will only be made available to managers in so far as it is necessary to enable them to discharge their management responsibilities, in accordance with the Data Protection Act and current Health and Safety legislation.