Health surveillance and fitness for work

Health Surveillance is a programme of regular assessments which monitor the health of employees who may be exposed to specific health risks in the workplace.

A combination of processes and procedures in place will help to ensure that your risk management protocols are effective in detecting work-related ill-health early, to facilitate timely intervention.

Employers responsbilities

Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (The Act) stipulates that employers have a general duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees.

Implementing a robust and proactive health surveillance programme will support employees, enabling them to maintain optimum productivity whilst at work.

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Why health surveillance is important

According to the HSE, health surveillance may be required by law if your employees are exposed to noise or vibration, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work with compressed air.

Health surveillance is needed to:

  • Identify work-related ill health at an early stage so that steps can be taken to treat the condition and prevent further damage
  • Give early warning that protective control measures are no longer effective
  • Protect workers who are at an increased risk

This should not be confused with:

  • Activities to monitor health where the effects from work are strongly suspected but cannot be established
  • Workplace wellbeing checks, such as promoting healthy living
  • Fitness to work examinations e.g. fitness to dive, operate cranes, forklift trucks or health assessments requested by night employees

HSE Health surveillance cycle

How can we help?

RPS has significant experience supporting clients in developing, managing, and maintaining their health surveillance programmes. We work in partnership with health, safety and risk management teams ensuring legislative and best practice compliance and demonstrating to employees that their health is important to your organisation.

When developing a health surveillance programme, it’s helpful to avoid blanket coverage for all employees as this can provide misleading results and waste money.

Types of health surveillance

RPS provides a full range of health assessments, including:

  • Audiometry for employees exposed to noise
  • Spirometry (lung function tests) for employees exposed to dusts and hazardous substances
  • Dermatological checks (skin) for employees exposed to skin irritants and hazardous substances
  • HAVS assessments for employees using vibrating tools
Statutory medicals and biological monitoring
  • Ionising radiation
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Compressed air
Fitness for work medicals

Including, baseline medicals and night worker screening.

Medicals for employees working in safety critical roles, such as:

  • Airside (working in aviation)
  • Confined spaces
  • Crane drivers
  • Fitness to wear breathing apparatus
  • Forklift truck drivers
  • Heavy plant and machinery
  • Offshore workers (OGUK)
  • Rescue workers
  • Trackside (rail workers)
  • Wind turbine workers
  • Working at height

For employees in either unique roles or travelling abroad to work

  • Working at altitude
  • Working in extremes of heat or cold
  • Working in poor air quality

The benefits of a healthy workforce

  • Early detection of symptoms enables proactive remedial measures and prevent RIDDOR reportable conditions
  • Supports in the evaluation and effectiveness of risk assessments and control measures.
  • Enables employers to demonstrate their commitment to looking after employee wellbeing
  • Provides a platform for broader education of employees on observing and complying with health and safety working practices, for example complying with safe systems of work, proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • Enables employees to raise concerns regarding any work-related health concerns enabling investigation and resolution
  • Reduces the risk of work-related illness claims and the associated costs and reputational damage as a result

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