occupational health solutions

Health Surveillance Programme

An important part of occupational health is how work and the work environment can impact on workers’ health. As an employer, you must make sure workers’ health is not impacted by their work.

Health surveillance is required by law when employees remain exposed to health risks even after health and safety control measures have been put in place. This is completed as control measures are not always reliable despite maintenance, checking and training.

Failure to appropriately risk assess and implement an adequate health surveillance programme can result in costly fines/compensation claims, loss of reputation and in some cases custodial sentences.

Health surveillance is a scheme of repeated health checks which are used to identify ill health caused by work. This includes exposure to hazardous substances, noise, vibration, and location specific exposures.

The HSE recommend that employers retain health surveillance records are kept for 40 years.

The clinical assessment record is kept by the Occupational Health Provider and a fitness certificate is provided to the employer following completion will detail if the employee is fit for full duty, requires any limits to exposure, and if the case requires further action.

Exposure to Noise:

Audiometric surveillance tests the individual’s hearing ability and is an early detection for Noise Induced Hearing Loss by monitoring changes over time. There can be many triggers for hearing loss including age, symptom of a medical conditions or exposure to loud noises. Hearing loss is permanent and can cause significant issues for the individual.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) advise that employers must provide a health surveillance programme to employees who are frequently exposed to noise which exceeds the upper exposure action value.

Spirometry/Lung Function Tests:

Spirometry/lung function tests are performed to assess an individuals respiratory functioning. These tests allow early detection of ill health such as occupational asthma which can be caused by exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes and other substances.

Skin Assessments:

Occupational dermatitis and other dermatology issues can be caused by exposure to chemicals, fumes, rubbers, metals, greases, solvents, dust and other substances. A skin assessment is often required in combination with spirometry/lung function testing.

The skin assessment includes a questionnaire and if required inspection of the skin. When issues are noted advice is given to employers on limiting exposure/mitigating risk by using substitutes if possible and to employees around skin care and further medical input if indicated.

Hand Arm Vibration:

Under the Control of Hand Arm Vibration at work Regulations 2005 employers have a duty to protect their employees from the health risks associated with hand-arm vibration.

Employees that require this type of health surveillance are those using machinery or tools on a regular basis.  LCG Occupational Health Solutions can support employers in ensuring compliance by implementing a HAV’s health surveillance programme.

Programmes include:
  • Tier One Assessment:

This is an initial assessment completed on commencing employment or before starting to use vibrating tools/machinery. This is a questionnaire and if issues are identified further assessment may be required.

  • Tier Two Assessment:

This is an annual questionnaire for employees working with vibrating tools/machinery. If issues are identified further assessment may be required.

  • Tier Three Assessment:

Where issues are identified on tier one and two questionnaires a Tier Three Assessment is required. This is a face-to-face assessment with an Occupational Health Advisor and includes a detailed clinical and occupational history, clinical examination of the hands (assessing grip strength, dexterity, sensation etc) and a report detailing outcomes.

Where a diagnosis is required the case may be escalated to an Occupational Health Physician.

  • Tier Four Assessment:

This is a consultation that provides a formal diagnosis.

Guidance

Respiratory Guidance for Employees
Skin Guidance for Individuals

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