In some circumstances, exposure to agents and substances at work may cause identifiable disease or medical conditions. Sometimes, the onset of these conditions can be detected at an early stage, either by the individual themselves, or by staff with training and knowledge of these conditions. Where the nature and extent of exposure of individuals at work is such that there is an obvious and foreseeable risk of such conditions developing, it is often beneficial to carry out health surveillance to detect the onset at an early stage, allowing further exposure to be prevented or controlled.
Health surveillance may also be legally required. For example, both the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require an employer to carry out health surveillance where the nature of exposure in the workplace makes the appearance of a relevant disease, or condition, foreseeable.
To address these risks and meet the University's legal requirements, the University requires management units to have processes for risk assessment in place. The University Policy on Health Surveillance can be viewed here: Health Surveillance Policy
It is the responsibility of those who supervise staff or students (e.g. line managers, PIs, PhD supervisors etc.) within Schools/Institutes, Colleges and University Services to ensure that their risk assessment processes take account of the potential need for health surveillance to be provided for members of their staff and, where appropriate, for research students and affiliates. SEPS can provide advice and support on this and have prepared the guidance below to help explain the health surveillance aspect of the risk assessment process. This is not a new requirement but is simply a clarification of the previous requirements.
The Health Surveillance Risk Assessment Form can be used to help carry out a risk assessment to help identify whether health surveillance is needed.
If the assessment concludes that health surveillance is required the management unit must ensure that the relevant member(s) of staff is identified to the Occupational Health Unit using the Health Surveillance Request Form Occupational Health will arrange to carry out examinations in appropriate cases. Staff attendance for health surveillance will be recorded within the individual's CoreHR record. For some types of activity, basic examinations can sometimes be carried out by trained local staff but this would generally have to be agreed by Occupational Health Unit.
A completed Health Surveillance Risk Assessment covering the work involved MUST accompany all referrals to Occupational Health.
Further information on the circumstances when health surveillance is likely to be required and on the principles underlying it is given on this HSE webpage.