Providing health surveillance
You must provide health surveillance for all your employees who, despite your action to control the risk, are likely to be regularly exposed above the Exposure Action Value or are considered to be at risk for any other reason. The purpose of health surveillance is to:
- Identify anyone exposed or about to be exposed to hand-arm vibration who may be at particular risk, for example people with blood circulatory diseases such as Raynaud's Disease;
- Identify any vibration-related disease at an early stage in employees regularly exposed to hand-arm vibration;
- Help you prevent disease progression and eventual disability;
- Help people stay in work;
- Check the effectiveness of your vibration control measures.
You should consult with your trade union safety representative, or employee representative, and the employees concerned before introducing health surveillance. It is important that your employees understand that the aim of health surveillance is to protect them from developing advanced symptoms of ill health so that they can continue to work. You will need their understanding and co-operation if health surveillance is to be effective.
How can I arrange health surveillance?
Basic health surveillance consists of regularly seeking information about early symptoms of ill health by using a questionnaire. It may help you keep costs down if you carry out this function yourself, referring any positive responses to an occupational health service provider.
Alternatively, you could ask an occupational health service provider to provide a complete service on your behalf. You should be able to find details of occupational health service providers from your trade association, your local telephone directory, the internet or your nearest HSE office.
What should I expect from an occupational health service provider?
A suitable occupational health service provider will have training and experience in health surveillance for hand-arm vibration.
They should be able to:
- Advise you on a suitable health surveillance programme for your employees;
- Set up the programme;
- Provide the necessary training and supervision for your staff if they are going to help with the basic health surveillance;
- Provide suitably qualified and experienced staff to carry out the higher level health surveillance;
- Provide you with reports on your employees' fitness to continue work with vibration exposure.
What do I have to do with the results of health surveillance?
You will need to:
- Keep records of the health surveillance and fitness for work advice provided for each employee (but not the confidential medical records which are kept by the doctor). Your health and safety inspector is entitled to ask to see the health records as part of their checks that you are complying with these Regulations;
- Make employees' records available to them;
- Act upon any recommendations made by the doctor about employees' continued exposure to vibration;
- Use the results to review and, if necessary, revise your risk assessment, including your plans to control risks;
- Discuss any changes to your risk assessment with your trade union safety representative or employee representative;
- Notify the relevant enforcing authority when advised in writing by a doctor that an employee in listed occupations has HAVS or carpal tunnel syndrome, as required by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). For more information on RIDDOR see HSE's leaflet HSE31.