1. Overview

An important part of occupational health is how work and the work environment can impact on workers’ health. As an employer, you must make sure workers’ 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. Health and safety law requires health surveillance when your workers remain exposed to health risks even after you have put controls in place. This is because control measures may not always be reliable, despite appropriate checking, training and maintenance. Health risks which require health surveillance include noise, vibration and substances hazardous to health.

Health surveillance schemes should usually be set up with input from a competent occupational health professional.

The law requires that health surveillance includes medical surveillance for certain hazards such as asbestos, lead, and ionising radiation.

Where medical surveillance is required, you must use a competent occupational health doctor appointed by HSE, called an appointed doctor. The one exception is for some lower risk asbestos work.

Health surveillance is not the same as health monitoring, health promotion or health screening. 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

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Updated 2024-06-04