Health surveillance in the textile industry

Health surveillance involves carrying out systematic, regular checks on workers to identify early signs of ill health, then acting on the results. Methods can be simple or more complex, depending on the risks to employees from the hazards of the job.

Even when people have been made aware of risks, they may still not report problems. They may forget the advice they have been given, overlook symptoms or be reluctant to come forward for fear of the effects on their job.

Health surveillance helps to:

  • protect workers who are at an increased risk
  • identify work-related ill health at an early stage so steps can be taken to treat the condition and prevent further damage
  • give early warning that protective control measures are no longer effective.

Health surveillance does not reduce the need to eliminate or manage health risks.

Health surveillance is required in any workplace where each of the following are met:

  • the work is known to harm health in some way
  • there are valid ways of detecting the disease or condition
  • the surveillance is likely to benefit the employee
  • the technique of investigation is of low risk to the employee

It is always better to change work methods to prevent or reduce the number of people exposed, rather than extend the number of people covered by health surveillance.

You may conduct other health checks, including fitness-for-work checks for safety-critical workers and general health checks for all workers.

Information and guidance on health surveillance can be found at the following links:

Although the information at the following links is for the construction industry, most of it is relevant to textiles as well:

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Updated 2024-02-09