Topic area 6: Health assessment and surveillance

Estimated Duration: 2 Hours


  • To outline the principal differences between safety and health hazards;
  • To demonstrate a practical methodology for undertaking risk assessments on health hazards;
  • To outline the reasons for undertaking health surveillance;
  • To identify some common health hazards in the quarrying industry.

Lecture Plan

Typical Health Risks

Risks to health from work activities include:

  • Skin contact with irritant substances, leading to dermatitis etc;
  • Inhalation of respiratory sensitisers, triggering immune responses such as asthma
  • Badly designed workstations requiring awkward body postures or repetitive movements result in upper limb disorders, repetitive strain injury and other musculoskeletal conditions
  • Noise levels which are too high, causing deafness and conditions such as tinnitus
  • Too much vibration, eg from hand-held tools leading to hand arm vibration syndrome and circulatory problems;
  • Exposure to ionising and non-ionising radiation including ultraviolet in the sun's rays causing burns, sickness and skin cancer

Regulations covering health hazards include:

  • Chemicals & hazardous substances: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations , 1999
  • Noise: Noise at Work Regulations, 1989
  • Manual Handling: Manual Handling Operations Regulations, 1992
  • Ionising radiation: Ionising Radiation (Protection) Regulations, 1985

Health Risk Management:

  • Identifying hazards
  • Assessing risk by looking at:
    • The potential severity of exposure to the hazard is related to the properties of the hazard.
    • Potential for exposure means the opportunity to do harm.
  • Controlling risk using the hierarchy of risk control
  • Example of hierarchy for noise hazards
    • Sound absorbent material around noisy machinery
    • Use of sound absorbing wall and floor materials
    • Cover the source of the noise (eg using hoods);
    • Arranging plant and equipment to create screens and reduce the level of reflected sound;
    • Isolating workers from the noise source
    • As a last resort provide comfortable PPE

Health surveillance

Health surveillance means having a system to look for early signs of ill-health caused by work in order to:

  • Detect adverse effects early
  • Prevent further harm being caused.

Elements of a health surveillance programme (from QPA Health Surveillance Guide)

Suggested Reading & Other Resources

  • QPA Health Surveillance Guide. Published by the Quarry Products Association

Course documents

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Updated 2023-11-21