7. Record keeping

There are different records employers must maintain as a result of undertaking health surveillance; health records and medical records. It is important to understand the difference.

Health records

A health record is a legal record of the outcome of health surveillance. Employers must keep them for all workers under health surveillance. They must be kept for at least the period specified in the relevant regulations, for example 40 years under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). Where regulations do not specify how long they should be kept for, the health record should be kept at least while you employ the worker.

Health records must contain information about the worker’s details, where they work, the hazards they have been exposed to and their fitness to continue to be exposed to those hazards. They should not contain confidential medical information unless you have the worker’s written consent.

It is good practice to offer workers a copy of their health record when they leave your employment or if you cease trading.

Medical records

Medical records must be kept in medical confidence by the occupational health professional responsible for the health surveillance scheme. They may include confidential clinical notes, test results and more general information about workers’ health.

You can only access medical records with the written consent of the worker.

If you change your occupational health provider, you should ensure that medical records (paper and electronic) are transferred to your new provider.

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Updated 2021-11-08