Health surveillance, safety critical medicals and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Removal of most coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

This page is up to date following the removal of most restrictions in England. There are different regulations and guidance to follow for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The latest advice on keeping workplaces safe will help you assess the risks and continue to reduce COVID-19 transmission. This includes links to information on vaccination, as well as on testing, tracking and tracing (including where variants are spreading).

Guidance for occupational health providers and appointed doctors

HSE issued updated guidance on 5 March 2021. This advice (issued on 20 July 2021) provides a further update, taking account of most coronavirus restrictions being removed in England, while continuing to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers and practitioners.

The general principles set out below apply to assessments on both new workers and those undergoing periodic medicals, and cover safety critical medicals, and health and medical surveillance where required under the following regulations:

  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017
  • Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
  • Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

Previous guidance allowed deferral of some medicals subject to a satisfactory remote assessment. However, for any medicals due after 1 September 2021, occupational health providers should have returned to following detailed HSE guidance on health surveillance for the relevant regulations.

Face to face assessments for health surveillance and safety critical medicals should be subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and continue to follow the relevant UK government guidance on working safely.

There are different approaches and timescales for easing of restrictions (and how that is affected by variants) in Scotland and Wales.

You should make sure the measures identified by your risk assessment take account of the public health regulations and guidance for the nation you are working in.

If health surveillance or safety critical medicals require spirometry, it should be subject to a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and appropriate controls put in place, including provision of suitable personal protective equipment. 

HSE will review this guidance as appropriate.

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2021

Next review due: 30 September 2021