Health Surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks which allow for early identification of ill-health and helps identify any corrective action needed. It may be required by law if you are exposed to noise or vibration, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other hazardous substances, or compressed air.
Why is health surveillance important?
- detecting ill-health effects at an early stage, so employers can introduce better controls to prevent any condition deteriorating
- 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 (eg on the impact of health effects and the use of protective equipment)
When is health surveillance conducted?
Criteria for conducting Health Surveillance includes when:
Health Surveillance is likely to be necessary where there is exposure to:
- dangerous pathogens, eg hepatitis B, HIV and TB
- certain sensitisers, such as substances that may cause occupational asthma, eg laboratory animals, mineral oils, wood dust, solder fumes
- substances that may cause dermatitis, eg latex
- noise and vibration
- substances with systemic toxicity such as lead, arsenic and mercury
Common myths about Health Surveillance:
- Health Surveillance is not a substitute for undertaking a risk assessment
- Health Surveillance does not reduce the need to eliminate or manage health risks
Health Surveillance is a legal requirement and 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 assessments such as fitness to drive forklift trucks or health assessments requested by night workers