Health surveillance is the regular systematic monitoring of employees’ health to identify early signs of work-related damage by exposure to known hazards, and putting preventative measures in place to avoid any long term or permanent harm.
Health surveillance is a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, COSHH and a number of other regulations covering specific hazards including lead, asbestos, noise and vibration.
It may also be appropriate where potential exposure to a hazard has a recognised health effect which can be measured and tested. This can take the form of hearing assessment, lung function measurement, skin examination or blood and/or urine tests.
Health risk management is a continuous process, designed to cover all aspects of risk management.
The process is broken down into four stages:
1. RISK IDENTIFICATION: Is the first stage of the process is to identify what hazard to health may be present and who may be affected by it. This includes a consideration of chemical, biological and physical agents as well as work activities.
2. ELIMINATION: Where a risk has been identified, the next stage is to try and eliminate it. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as engineering measures or changing the way an activity is performed.
3. RISK ASSESSMENT is required if a health risk still remains despite elimination measures. The assessment determines the degree of risk and must be carried out by appropriately trained personnel.
4. CONTROL OF RISK is the final stage. It involves reducing or controlling the risk. This will always include a consideration of the task itself, the people involved, what tools and equipment are used and the working environment..