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14th June 2023

Health Surveillance

woman taking survey


In this blog, we lift the lid on the important topic of health surveillance – which is an essential part of ensuring employees’ health is not impacted by their work.

Health surveillance is a scheme of repeated health checks which are used to identify ill health caused by work. Typical health risks which require health surveillance include exposure to noise, vibration and various hazardous substances including lead and asbestos.

Other issues that can indicate whether health surveillance might be appropriate include:

  • Previous cases of work-related ill health in your workplace;
  • Over reliance on personal protective equipment as an exposure control;
  • Evidence of ill health in jobs in your particular industry;
  • Information from insurance claims, manufacturer’s data and industry guidance.

Implementing a Scheme

Health surveillance is designed to identify problems before they escalate. It, therefore, helps to identify any shortfall in workplace control measures, and in the same vein can also be used to help confirm that your programme of risk control is working effectively.

Health surveillance can also be useful for establishing a baseline and gathering relevant health information as part of onboarding new employees.

Health surveillance should always be aimed at employees who actually need it, and for this reason, when setting up and implementing a scheme, it’s usually best to seek advice from a competent occupational health provider. It is not the same as health monitoring, It:

  • Should only be used for workers who need it
  • Provides feedback about actions you may need to take to prevent further harm and protect workers
  • Allows workers to raise concerns about how work affects their health
  • Provides the opportunity to reinforce workers’ training and education

Act on the Results

When health surveillance is completed, you will be provided with feedback from your provider. It’s important to act on any adverse results where they show they have work related ill health, in fact, certain issues (such as noise induced hearing loss or vibration white finger) are reportable diseases under the RIDDOR regulations for which you must notify the HSE.

Your findings from health surveillance must contribute to your risk assessment and implementation of control measures. Health surveillance can detect ill health effects early and show whether you need to review and revise your risk assessment and control measures as a result. Consultation with staff about health surveillance is also key and this can help increase worker’s commitment and compliance with control measures.

If you have any queries regarding setting up a suitable health surveillance scheme then don’t hesitate to call our H&S adviceline on 0300 303 5228 or email us at

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The competent person role does not have to be fulfilled internally within every company. You can, therefore, outsource the appointment to a contractor or consultancy with the necessary qualifications and experience.

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