University Arrangements and Responsibilities
Health surveillance is provided via Occupational Health for certain groups of workers in relation to specific process hazards on the basis of a risk assessment that considers exposure routes, extent and duration. This can arise under the following circumstances:
- Medical examinations required under certain prescribed sets of health and safety legislation when specific exposure criteria are met, e.g. for asbestos, ionising radiation,
- Regular health surveillance checks for groups of workers exposed to particular hazards, e.g. respiratory sensitisers, noise and vibration,
- Immunity checks and vaccinations for employees who need to be protected against infectious diseases whilst at work, including work with, or potential exposure to, human blood borne viruses.
Health surveillance involves systematically watching out for early signs of work-related ill health in workers exposed to certain health risks. It means putting in place certain procedures to achieve this. It may involve simple checks such as looking for skin damage on hands from using certain chemicals; technical checks on workers such as hearing tests, or more involved medical examinations.
In carrying out health surveillance, the aim is to:
- Protect the health of individuals by detecting as early as possible diseases or adverse health effects which may be work-related, e.g. exposure to hazardous substances, including biological agents, and physical agents.
- Assist in evaluating the effectiveness of existing risk management measures and identify where any further action may be necessary; and
- Obtain, use, keep up to date and retain data and information for determining and evaluating risks to health, including on commencement and following cessation of employment.
Legislative requirements for health surveillance
There is a general requirement under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations for employers to ensure that employees are provided with appropriate health surveillance in relation to risks to health and safety identified by risk assessments. Health surveillance will be required where the following criteria are been met:
- There is an identifiable disease or adverse health effect related to employees’ work,
- Valid techniques are available to detect indications of the disease or health effect,
- There is a reasonable likelihood the disease or health effect may occur under particular conditions of the work, and
- The surveillance is likely to further protection of the health and safety of the employees it will cover, e.g. maintaining the effectiveness of a risk assessment and the controls implemented as a result.
Additionally there are other regulations that specifically contain criteria for providing health surveillance, most notably:
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
- The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations;
- The Control of Noise at Work Regulations
- The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
- The Control of Lead at Work Regulations; and
- The Ionising Radiation Regulations.
The Regulations and situations requiring health surveillance that are most relevant to the University’s areas of work and activities are as follows:
Health surveillance responsibilities
Heads of Schools/Departments and Line Managers
Heads of Schools/Departments have overall responsibility for ensuring local arrangements are in place for appropriate health surveillance to be arranged, carried out and acted upon. They should ensure that line managers:
- Are fully aware of health surveillance requirements and the arrangements to follow where a need, or potential need, is identified.
- Ensure risk assessments take account of health surveillance requirements. This should be covered during the individuals induction in to the post or work area and/or following any changes in the nature of the substances or processes used.
- Identify and inform staff groups for whom health surveillance is required, working with Safety Office if required.
- Allow workers requiring health surveillance to be able to attend the programme that is established for them.
- To review the findings of health surveillance and take appropriate action to protect the health of individuals.
- Ensure adequate and up to date records are maintained.
- Review overall health surveillance arrangements for their workers to ensure the validity of the provision.
- Report any event resulting in the accidental release of, or exposure to, substances hazardous to health on the University on-line incident reporting system so that this may be flagged with the Occupational Health Provider if deemed appropriate by Safety Office.
Individuals undergoing health surveillance
Those undergoing health surveillance are responsible for: -
- Advising the Occupational Health Provider of any significant health issues.
- Reporting any significant changes in their health to the Occupational Health Provider in intervals between health surveillance sessions.
- Cooperating with health surveillance programmes and other risk reduction measures for the protection of their health.
- Attending for health surveillance appointments or organising in advance for a change of appointment time if original inconvenient.
Arrangements for setting up health surveillance programmes/referral procedures
To initiate a health surveillance programme for individuals or groups of individuals, mangers or other authorised persons, e.g. School/Divisional Safety Officers, should complete the appropriate referral forms which are available on the Human Resources website.
Reporting of health surveillance and dealing with the findings:
The individual and his/her line manager will be advised, in accordance with the medical confidentiality arrangements, of the outcome of the health surveillance programme. The findings could indicate: -
- Exposure to hazardous substance, physical agent etc indicating a risk to the individual’s health.
- Non-performance or under-performance of risk control measures.
- Whether the individual is deemed fit to undertake a particular work activity.
The responsibility for taking action based on the findings of health surveillance lies with the individual’s line manager.