Occupational health surveillance

Designing an occupational health surveillance strategy

Posted By Kerry Budworth on 2016-05-02 10:50

Set up and design health surveillance according to need

As an employer and under the relevant health and safety regulations, the obligation is on you to decide if health surveillance is needed and to institute it. There are definitive regulations that cover health surveillance for certain industries and particular working practices. Health surveillance may be required by law if your employees are exposed to noise or vibration, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work in compressed air.

Do you need health surveillance?

The stipulations for occupational health surveillance can be quite broad, so it is important for you as an employer to understand them and how they may apply to you. We discuss the details in our article 


and it is worth your time reading it. Where health surveillance is required, the obligation is on the employer to have a central role in every stage of health surveillance.

The Health Surveillance Cycle

The HSE has designed a tool called the Health Surveillance Cycle, it is a useful infographic for the purposes of understanding how health surveillance is designed implemented and undertaken. Your initial step is to undertake a risk assessment of your workplace. We talk about identifying and controlling risks in your workplace in the following article


the health surveillance cycle

Health Surveillance Cycle, Copyright HSE




What sort of health surveillance do you need?

The third step is for you to identify what type of health surveillance you might need. This will be based on the work processes undertaken by your employees. For instance, if their work exposes them to noise, the hearing screening is something you need to consider. If they work with harmful substances, then biological monitoring and possibly lung function testing are something you need to consider. 

Setting up occupational health surveillance

When designing and setting up your health surveillance strategy, it is important to involve your employees and their representatives at the earliest stage. Your strategy will only be effective with the full co-operation of your employees. They also need to understand their own duties and requirements. Involvement in the process will also allow them to understand the purpose of the health surveillance. 

Identify who will do the health surveillance

As an employer you are responsible for putting in place the most appropriate health surveillance programme for your business.You should involve a qualified person to undertake your health surveillance. If you do this from the beginning of the process it may make the process easier. One way or the other, when you institute the strategy, an appropriately qualified person will need to undertake the health surveillance. By understanding a little more about what you need and what they can offer, you can make good decisions about the right health surveillance services. In synopsis, to put an effective programme in place you will need to:

  • involve your employees
  • appoint a responsible person within your business
  • appoint a competent medical professional (where appropriate)


Review your strategy constantly

Keep your health surveillance process under review, to make sure that it is still appropriate and to maintain the quality.

Your health surveillance programme should be designed according to the specific needs of your workplace. It does not have to be a blanket approach, the health surveillance should only be undertaken for those employees who need health surveillance, as defined through risk assessment.

Implement health surveillance for those who need it

Your next step is to implement your health surveillance programme. Keep your health surveillance programme under review, to make sure that it remains appropriate and to maintain quality.

It is important to you, your business and your employees that you make sure your health surveillance strategy stays up to date. You need to ensure that all of your health and safety precautions and risk analysis are a continuous, ongoing process. This will help you to keep risks as low as reasonably possible. If you have any questions about occupational health surveillance services in the UK, or you are looking for health and safety services in Leicester or across the UK, don't hesitate to call us on 01455 234 600 or contact us online. 

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