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Health and Surveillance - FAQs

How long should I keep the health records?

As a general rule, individual health records should be kept for at least 40 years from the date of the last entry. However, some regulations may require you to keep them for much longer as ill-health effects might not emerge for a very long period after exposure. It is good practice to offer individual employees a copy of their health record when they leave your employment.

Who can see the health records?

In addition to the employer, who is responsible for keeping them, employee health records can be seen when requested by:

  • the employee concerned
  • HSE
  • the employee's representative (with that employee's consent)

I run an employment agency. What are my health surveillance responsibilities?

If the agency workers you supply are your employees, you are responsible for any health surveillance needed. Before placing a worker with a user business, you need to check whether they will be doing work that requires health surveillance. If health surveillance is needed, you might be able to arrange for the user business to do health surveillance on your behalf – but you are still responsible for making sure that any necessary health surveillance is done and for keeping health records if the workers are your employees.

The user business is not legally required to do health surveillance for workers who are not its employees, and if you can't get the user business's agreement to do so, you will need to organise any necessary health surveillance yourself. Following the guidance on this site will help you do this.

What do I need to do if I use temporary or agency workers?

You are not legally required to do health surveillance for workers who are not your employees, but you do need to give them information, in a form they can understand, about any health surveillance necessary. If the risk assessment shows that health surveillance is needed, the duty to carry it out rests with their employer. However, the agency may ask to obtain your agreement to include their employees eg under health surveillance arrangements that you may have for any of your own employees doing similar work.

However, if you choose not to include the agency workers under your health surveillance programme, the actual employer of the workers will need to provide any health surveillance that is needed. You may wish to co-ordinate with the agency about arrangements for this and make sure that all parties are clear about who will do what, including record-keeping.