Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks. These health checks may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work in compressed air.
Health surveillance is important for:
- detecting ill-health effects at an early stage, so employers can introduce better controls to prevent them getting worse
- providing data to help employers evaluate health risks
- enabling employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health
- highlighting lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment
- providing an opportunity to reinforce training and education of employees (e.g. on the impact of health effects and the use of protective equipment)
Individual risk assessments should be used to identify any need for health surveillance. You should not use health surveillance as a substitute for undertaking a risk assessment or using effective controls.
Health surveillance can sometimes be used to help identify where more needs to be done to control risks and where early signs of work-related ill health are detected, employers should take action to prevent further harm and protect employees.