health

surveillance

It  Health surveillance is an important part of health risk management 

WHat is health surviellance?

Health surveillance is an important part of health risk management and seeks to confirm that where employees are potentially exposed to workplace hazards, the control measures are effective, and the worker is showing no biological or clinical changes that could indicate damaging exposure.

Health surveillance is appropriate where potential exposure to a workplace hazard has a known health effect and there is a validated, reproducible and measurable biological impact. Surveillance will be conducted when an exposure is identified or can be reasonably expected or is required under legislation. These include a wide spectrum of chemical, physical and biological hazards which can be divided into general industry-related hazards such as noise, radiation, vibration and also location-specific exposures such as process-related chemicals.

Common health surveillance assessments

Audiomentry

Spirometry

Skin assessment

HAVS

Frequency

Record keeping

Audiometry

Audiometric assessments test an individual’s hearing ability and is a method of monitoring any changes in hearing over time. Hearing loss is permanent and deterioration in hearing can be caused by age, medical conditions, or exposure to loud noise. Exposure to loud noise can occur in the workplace or as a result of hobbies such as listening to loud music or shooting.

Audiometry must be provided to all staff who are frequently exposed to noise which exceeds the upper exposure action value. It can identify if hearing protection is working and being worn properly in the workplace and that noise levels are being monitored and risks are controlled.

The HSE categorise hearing as follows:

Category 1 – acceptable hearing ability
Category 2 – mild hearing impairment, needs formal notification of hearing loss
Category 3 – Poor hearing, suggests significant noise induced hearing loss requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment
Category 4 – rapid hearing loss requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment

Unilateral hearing loss – requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment

Spirometry

Spirometry assesses an individual’s lung function and determines whether there has been any damage to the lungs caused by occupational risks such as exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes or other substances. Exposure to these risks can cause occupational asthma which can be a serious health condition and those exposed should undergo health surveillance in order to detect any early signs of ill health so that appropriate measures can be put into place.

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