4. Health surveillance

Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks that is used to:

  • collect data to detect or evaluate health hazards
  • protect employees' health by early detection of changes or disease
  • evaluate control measures

If your risk assessment shows you need health surveillance for any reason, you should provide it.

Exposure to welding fume as an asthmagen

Employers should provide respiratory health surveillance when welding stainless steel, where a known asthmagen, for example chromium, is present in the fume. You should do this unless the risk assessment has shown there is not a reasonable likelihood of developing asthma.

Asthma health surveillance should include:

  • a baseline questionnaire and spirometry
  • a further questionnaire at 6 and 12 weeks post start of work (this period may vary)
  • an annual questionnaire and spirometry

You should provide workers with adequate information, instruction and training so that they report relevant symptoms.

You should seek advice from a competent person, such as an occupational health provider.

Exposure to welding fume as a carcinogen

It may be helpful to develop and maintain an individual health record for all those exposed to welding fume, where the health effect is cancer. The record should contain:

  • surname
  • forename(s)
  • gender
  • date of birth
  • permanent address and postcode
  • national insurance number
  • date when present employment started
  • a historical record of jobs in this employment involving exposure to the known carcinogen

As the employer, if you choose to do this then it's your responsibility to maintain health records.

Keep them for at least 40 years.

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