Health Surveillance Services
Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks that allows for the early identification of ill health related to a potential workplace exposure. These health checks may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health. They are also required by those who work in compressed air.
As mentioned, health surveillance services are usually carried out in situ by mobile occupational health providers. This because the nature of health surveillance is specific to each individual organisation, industry or business. To facilitate this, Kays Medical can carry out health surveillance services via a mobile unit, on your premises or at our base in Liverpool.
Health surveillance activities in particular aid detection of ill-health effects at an early stage. This allows employers to introduce better controls to prevent them from getting worse, as well as providing data to help employers to evaluate health risks. Health surveillance services also help organisations identify potential lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment.
Workplace risk assessments are used to identify any need for health surveillance. As experts in the provision of occupational health services through risk-based approaches, Kays Medical are equally prepared to provide appropriate consultancy advice that comes hand in hand with health surveillance services. Get in touch with us today to find out more.
Audiometry is a branch of audiology and the science of measuring hearing acuity at differing frequencies. Results of audiometric tests are used to diagnose hearing loss or diseases of the ear, and often make use of an audiogram.
Audiometric testing is mandatory for all UK employees who are exposed to noise levels of 85dBa or above on a daily basis as per the HSEs Noise at Work regulations.
Baseline audiometric testing is usually undertaken before a person is exposed to noise in a work setting where noise exposure is potentially excessive. It is then undertaken on a periodic frequency usually every few years to check hearing isn’t being impacted by the ongoing workplace noise exposure.
A good indicator that audiometric assessment is required in your business is that hearing protection is routinely supplied to employees for some or all of their work activities. Kays Medical Occupational Health through their needs Assessment approach can help you determine this.
Audiometry is also undertaken in other types of workplace medicals to check hearing is sufficient for that individual to interact safely with their environment, for example to hear alarms in a safety critical work environment such as shipping, offshore oil and gas and tunnelling environments. This a fitness for task intervention and not strictly health surveillance.
Hazardous substances used in the workplace that can cause Occupational Lung Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Occupational Asthma, normally trigger a Health Surveillance requirement or, in particular, spirometry / lung-function tests. Typical workplaces where there is respiratory risk include bakeries because of flour dust, welders, chrome application, construction sites, wood working, chemical and hydrocarbon plants where respiratory sensitizers are being used.
Spirometry is used to determine an employee’s lung function capabilities. Its normal to conduct baseline readings prior to an individual being exposed as part of the new starter health assessment. This reading can then be referred back to throughout the person’s employment thereafter in ongoing spirometry testing as long as they continue to have potential exposure. Changes in the lung performance along with other symptoms may indicate the presence of occupational lung disease.
A spirometry test is non-invasive and requires the person to simply breathe out into a machine that measures how much air they can blow out of their lungs and how quickly.
Spirometry is also used to identify lung performance issues when individuals are using Breathing Apparatus and Diving equipment as part of a fitness for task medical. In itself for these purposes this is not Health Surveillance.
Occupational skin disease is an important and common health problem exclusively related to the workplace. Repeated skin irritation or skin sensitisation can lead to dermatitis that can be in its worst presentations disabling to both work activity and activities of daily living.
If detected early enough and if the worker’s exposure to the trigger substances are reduced, dermatitis may be cured or at least less severe. Left untreated however it may become irreversible and even a small exposure may trigger a bad reaction in the case of sensitized persons.
Kays Occupational Health Skin Health surveillance service allows us to help you pick up early warning signs of many forms of occupational skin disease and advise on the correct procedure to prevent any further risk to Health as per duties under the COSHH regulations.
Currently known to be causes of occupational skin disease include: Epoxy resins, Latex, Rubber chemicals, Soaps and cleaners, Metalworking fluids, Cement, Wet work, Enzymes and Wood. Solvents which contact the skin can also affect other chemicals which can make them more likely to become a cause of occupational skin disease. Typically, the following occupations would benefit from regular skin surveillance to ensure the prolonged safety of their staff: Construction work, Health service work, Rubber making, Printing, Paint spraying, Agriculture, Horticulture, Electroplating, Cleaning, Catering, Hairdressing, Floristry.
Regular use of vibrating tools and equipment can cause a range of conditions called ‘hand arm vibration (HAVS)’. The best known is vibration white finger (VWF), but vibration also links to specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
For some people symptoms of conditions such as vibration white finger may appear after only a few months of exposure but for others it may take years. The symptoms are likely to get worse with repeated exposure and can, in cases like vibration white finger, lead to permanent damage and disfigurement; they can severely limit the jobs that someone is able to do as well as affect family and social activities.
Where a works process is likely to pose a high risk of injury or illness, consideration should be given to the possibility of discontinuing or replacing the process altogether, a thorough HAVS (hand arm vibration) Risk Assessment will aid this process and help you decide how to protect the health of employees exposed to vibration.
Kays medical as per the requirements of the HSE apply a tiered approach to assessing HAVS risks, helping organisations appropriately mange employee HAVS related health risks.
Lead poisoning is a potential hazard in industries which use lead-based chemicals, or where breathing in lead dust or fumes is possible.
Companies are required by the HSE to monitor lead levels and maintain a health register for everyone engaged in potentially hazardous processes.
Kays Medical are able to offer biological monitoring of lead through blood testing, and help your company implement a health surveillance programme to protect your employees from lead poisoning. We will ensure that all relevant paperwork is forwarded to the HSE in accordance with the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 approved code of practice and guidance, and your COSHH records. Where exposure to lead is significant the employer must ensure that the employee is under medical health surveillance by either a medical inspector from the Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) or an appointed lead Doctor.
The complex nature of occupational exposure in today’s businesses means that many organisations require biological monitoring as a way of assuring that chemical exposures encountered in operational processes are not impacting the health of their employees. Often health effects are insidious and subversive and certainly biological monitoring compliments workplace monitoring in air etc. Blood lead monitoring is already noted above, however there are a variety of other substances that can be monitored for in biological samples.
By measuring the chemical or its breakdown products in a biological sample (usually urine, blood or breath) there is often early indication that workplace controls are effective or indication that they should be amended before health effects become pronounced. Biological monitoring is particularly useful where chemicals can be significantly absorbed through the skin and where controls rely upon the use of personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks.
Kays Medical can undertake a range of biological monitoring services in accordance with substances identified in HSE EH40 Workplace Exposure Limits and specially under the BMGV.
Kays Medical only use UKAS accredited laboratory services for Biological samples.