Employers have both a common law and a statutory duty of care to protect the occupational health and safety of all employees. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires documentary evidence that all risks associated with all roles in the workplace be identified.
What is Health Surveillance?
Health screening can take many different forms from non-technical surveillance such as questionnaires and skin surveillance to technical forms such as hearing checks (audiometry) and lung function testing (spirometry). Any health surveillance undertaken is in the least invasive form possible and is always explained to the individual by the medical practitioner.
The provision of a suitable health screening programme is intended to protect employee health during their period of employment. It also:
• enables early detection of any health condition caused through exposure;
• identifies specific monitoring required from a statutory perspective;
• evaluates the efficacy of existing control measures; and
• demonstrates compliance.
What type of tests are involved?
The following are some of the tests that can be done to check the health of employees. Which tests are used in any specific case will depend on the risk assessment for that particular job.
Hearing is tested by audiometer. The hearing threshold at a range of frequencies is checked and limits are set for specific jobs. The test takes 15- 30 minutes.
Respiratory / Lung function (spirometry)
The person blows into a spirometer (portable) and the machine measures lung function. This can detect asthma and other lung diseases.
A questionnaire is completed asking whether or not the person gets skin symptoms, particularly at work. The person’s skin is examined to look for signs of sensitivity to gloves or chemicals, for example, used in the work environment.
Safety critical worker
The purpose of a safety critical medical is to identify if there is any risk or likelihood of developing a health problem that could cause sudden illness, for example, whilst undertaking work, and there are certain tests that can highlight this likelihood.
When is it completed and by whom?
The frequency of health screening is determined by the level of exposure and accepted guidelines; it can be on commencement of a position and often at regular and frequent intervals. It can be indicated when a new condition is diagnosed or changes and sometimes exit surveillance is required when the employee leaves employment.
Some health surveillance takes the form of self-assessment as part of a wider programme, and staff are asked to complete a questionnaire which is reviewed by occupational health. For more technical assessments the employee will be referred to occupational health and a registered Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (Occupational Health) will perform the various tests and examinations.
How much does it cost?
£500 per day targeted health screening, conducted on-site