Many employers are required by health and safety law to perform a risk assessment that identifies workplace hazards and at-risk employees and also implements control measures. If health risks remain after implementing control measures and all reasonable precautions, employers may also be required to conduct employee health surveillance.
Health surveillance is a system of on-going employee health checks that can help ensure that any ill health is detected as early as possible. Other important objectives of health surveillance include highlighting lapses in workplace control measures, providing an opportunity to reinforce employee training and education and providing data to help employers evaluate health risks, which will enable employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health. These objectives can be accomplished by keeping accurate health records, requiring routine employee self-checks and consulting with a professional to perform medical examinations.
As an employer, you are responsible for creating a health surveillance programme designed for the specific needs of your workplace. Once the programme is implemented and you begin receiving feedback, you need to act on the results. As an employer, you ultimately need to demonstrate that you took action to make sure everything reasonable was done. Consider the following:
• Have all risks in the work activity been assessed?
• Have you considered all routes of exposure?
• Is the employee trained for the job and in the use of any equipment used to control risk?
• Is any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective clothing, provided and used correctly?
• Is any necessary respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided and used correctly?