Purpose of health surveillance

Health surveillance involves on-going health checks designed to detect ill-health effects from specific identified hazards. The Occupational Health Service works together with managers and the Health and Safety Advisory Service to identify employees exposed to specific health hazards which may have an impact on their health and would therefore require health surveillance.


  • To proactively screen to detect early signs of work affecting employees' health.
  • To protect the health of employees by detecting ill-health effects as early as possible.
  • To assess the effectiveness of measures to control exposure.

Hazards and testing

Examples of specific hazards for which employers have a legal duty to do carry out Health Surveillance are:

  • very noisy workplaces
  • staff using vibrating tools
  • staff using substances which can cause asthma
  • staff using substances which can cause dermatitis

Health surveillance is undertaken by questionnaire initially. Staff exposed to certain hazards are then given an appointment to have further tests as appropriate, such as hearing tests, lung function, skin inspection or Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) assessment.


In most cases, no ill-health effects are found. In a small minority of cases further investigations are needed to assess possible ill-health effects. If a serious ill-health effect is found, the Occupational Health Adviser may recommend some adjustments to work which could include the following:

  • improved systems of work
  • installing safer equipment
  • additional training
  • use of additional protective clothing
  • possible transfer to other work

You may also be referred to your GP for further investigations. Confidential medical details will not be made available to your manager or Health and Safety Advisory Service, but they are given feedback on the effectiveness of the control measures in place.

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Contact us
Occupational Health team
Telephone: 01206 872399