Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - COSHH Level 2 (VTQ)

47 videos, 1 hour and 58 minutes

Course Content

COSHH Health Surveillance

Video 38 of 47
2 min 51 sec
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It is important to monitor employees' health to ensure that any problems can be addressed. The HSE define health surveillance as any activity which involves obtaining information about employees' health and which helps protect employees from health risks at work. The concept of effective health surveillance is to protect the health of the employees by early detection of adverse changes or diseases, collecting data for detecting or evaluating health hazards and evaluating control measures that are in place to ensure they are effective. Health surveillance is not the same as general health screening or health promotion that may be carried out in the workplace. It is necessary to monitor the health of employees when there are some risk remaining that has been identified by risk assessment. This can be risk from things like noise or vibration, solvents, dust, fumes, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health and also asbestos, lead or work in compressed air, ionising radiation.

These risks can lead to problems like asthma, dermatitis or cancer. Health surveillance may be a regular planned assessment or one or more aspects of workers' health, for example, lung function or skin condition; however, it is not enough to simply carry out suitable tests, questionnaires or examinations.

It is important that the employers have the results interpreted and action must be taken to eliminate or further control exposure. It may be necessary to re-deploy effective work as if necessary to another work area, eliminating their exposure. Health surveillance may need to be completed by an occupational health service physician, like a doctor or a nurse. But if a GP offers a service, you need to be sure that they are competent in occupational medicine. The HSE have a four-stage approach for employers to produce a checklist. Employers must ask themselves, "Do I have a health risk problem? Do I need occupational health monitoring in my workplace and who will be the best person to provide it? What action needs to take place? Is it working and is it effective?"

Finally, it is necessary to keep records on health surveillance and those records need to be stored securely under data protection regulations. You will need to record things like the person's name and National Insurance Number, the substance they have been exposed to and when and where they are exposed to it and also the frequency of exposure, the surveillance testing that has been done on them and who did it and lastly, the outcome of the testing. So for example, did they pass or fail?