Manage performance and act on results
Once your health surveillance arrangements are up and running, and you start receiving feedback from your service provider or responsible person, you need to act on the results. It is often useful to appoint someone to be in charge of making sure that any findings are promptly fed back to management, who can use this information to review the risk assessment and controls.
What do I do with the results of health surveillance?
Once you have the results, you should:
- act to protect those who are found to have health issues, and organise further assessment. Consider the options for dealing with employees found with ill health who may no longer be fit to be exposed, or those who have restrictions placed on exposure. This may require an occupational health referral
- take action on results where potential workplace problems are found
- keep health surveillance records
If the number of employees permits, it can be useful to view the results of health surveillance in terms of groups of similarly exposed employees, or those involved in similar tasks. This can provide a clearer view of how effective your controls are in local areas. It is important to ensure that analysis groups are big enough to protect anonymity and prevent the disclosure of confidential medical information.
From the outset of a health surveillance programme, it is helpful to agree with your provider how they will present the results to you, eg:
- will this be in a written or emailed report?
- how often will this be sent?
- will this convey only results or include an interpretation of their significance?
- will it include any action expected by you (the employer)
For further information, see: Checklist when purchasing occupational health provision. You should also inform your employees about the information you will receive and what you will do with this.
Occupational health referral
Health surveillance is designed to detect evidence of work-related disease in your employees. You should consider what you will do if ill health means a worker is no longer fit to perform their job, or there are restrictions on what they can do. You may need to adapt the workplace or even move affected staff to alternative duties. An occupational health provider would be able to assist with some of these decisions.
You may have a legal duty as an employer to make sure that anyone identified with work-related ill health through health surveillance is referred for diagnosis and/or treatment, as appropriate. You may also be required to inform HSE or your local authority under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) 1995.
Action on health risks
Control measures need to be improved where indicators of ill health are found. As an employer, you ultimately need to demonstrate that you took action to make sure everything reasonable was done. You should consider the following:
- What work has the employee been doing/for how long?
- Have all risks in the work activity been assessed?
- Have you chosen the most effective and reliable controls?
- Have you considered all routes of exposure?
- Is the employee trained, both for the job and in the use of any equipment used to control risk?
- Have you maintained/checked the control measures to make sure they stay effective?
- Is any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including protective clothing, provided and used correctly?
- Is any necessary respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided and used correctly?
- Is RPE and PPE maintained?
- Could activities outside work have caused ill health?
You should consider all the above, in tandem with the results from the subsequent health surveillance, when implementing additional or improved control measures.