Interview: Why is health surveillance important?
We conducted an interview with one of our Occupational Health technicians – Tim Stocker, about why is health surveillance important, and what to expect from it. We’ll cover its significance in the workplace, its role in safeguarding both employees and businesses, and the services offered by Fusion.
Interviewer: Hi Tim! It’s a pleasure to have you here. To start off, can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Tim: Thanks! It’s nice to be here. My name is Tim. I’m currently employed as an Occupational Health technician with Fusion. I’ve been with the company for 3 years now, having started right after I received my qualifications, and so far it’s been a very pleasant experience.
I: Thank you! Now, on the topic of health surveillance. Could you provide our audience with an overview of what it is and why is health surveillance important?
T: Of course. Health surveillance is a statutory requirement carried out to help employers maintain a safe workplace and protect employees from permanent harm. It’s essentially an annual workplace assessment conducted when employees are exposed to hazards that could affect their health, such as noise, dust, chemicals, and vibrations. Its main goal is to establish a systematic and appropriate health monitoring program based on workplace risk assessment. This program helps in detecting early signs of work-related illnesses among employees exposed to specific health hazards and also measures the effectiveness of H&S preventative measures.
I: That’s a comprehensive definition. Could you elaborate on how specifically Fusion approaches health surveillance?
T: At Fusion, we start by conducting a needs analysis within the organisation. This review helps us identify the relevant health surveillance services required to comply with current health and safety legislation.*
*Author’s note: These legislations include the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999), Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992), Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (1981), and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002), among others.
I: It’s clear that compliance with legislation is crucial. Could you walk us through the next steps?
T: Certainly. After the needs analysis, we work closely with our clients to implement and maintain a planned annual health surveillance program tailored to their specific needs. This program may include a range of screenings depending on the outcome of the analysis. Some examples include audiology assessments, cardio-respiratory and dermatology investigations for COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), assessments for drivers and forklift truck operators, vibration assessments, cold storage reviews, night worker screenings, and more. Essentially, it’s a comprehensive approach to monitor and safeguard the health of employees exposed to workplace hazards.
I: The variety of assessments is impressive. Now, let’s shift our focus to its broader importance in occupational health. Can you briefly explain why is health surveillance important in a broader sense?
T: Absolutely. Occupational health surveillance is a systematic approach to monitoring and assessing the health of workers and is a legal requirement. It plays a pivotal role in identifying and mitigating workplace hazards. By employing health surveillance, employers can protect their employees, reduce absenteeism, and boost happiness and productivity within their organisations.
I: Could you explain in more detail how health surveillance works and its role in early hazard detection?
T: Health surveillance involves continuous monitoring and assessment of employees’ health to identify potential work-related health risks and detect any adverse health effects early on. It collects and analyses data on employees’ health levels and conditions, exposure to hazards, and job-related risks and compare the results to those of the previous years. This proactive approach enables employers to implement appropriate control measures and prevent the development of occupational diseases. Essentially, it acts as an early warning system for occupational hazards.
I: Early detection is key. Can you delve deeper into why is health surveillance important in assessing the effectiveness of control measures?
T: Implementing control measures is vital in mitigating workplace hazards. Health surveillance allows organisations to evaluate the effectiveness of these measures. By regularly monitoring employees’ health, we can identify areas where control measures may need improvement or where additional safety precautions are necessary. This continuous assessment ensures that employees are adequately protected.
I: Compliance with regulations is also a crucial aspect. Could you elaborate on why is health surveillance important in assisting in adhering to health and safety regulations?
T: Health surveillance is a legal requirement in many industries. By following health surveillance guidelines, businesses can ensure compliance with occupational health and safety regulations established by local and national authorities. Non-compliance can have serious consequences, including accidents, fines, employee litigation and damage to the company’s reputation. Fusion is dedicated to assisting clients in meeting these regulatory requirements effectively.
I: Moving on, let’s discuss the benefits of health surveillance, starting with its advantages for employees.
T: Health surveillance offers numerous benefits for employees. Firstly, it enables early detection and treatment of potential health issues, allowing for timely medical intervention and potentially saving lives. It also promotes employee wellbeing by demonstrating that the organisation cares about their health and safety. This fosters a positive work environment and increased job satisfaction. Additionally, health surveillance helps prevent occupational diseases by identifying potential issues early.
I: Those benefits are undoubtedly valuable for employees. Now, could you explain how health surveillance positively impacts businesses?
T: Certainly. Businesses also reap several advantages from health surveillance. One notable benefit is reduced absenteeism. Work-related illnesses can lead to increased absenteeism, affecting productivity and organisational performance. By detecting health issues early, businesses can take appropriate actions to prevent extended sick leaves, ensuring a healthier and more productive workforce.
I: Productivity is undoubtedly a priority for businesses. Could you expand on why is health surveillance important in contributing to improved productivity and efficiency?
T: A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. When employees are physically and mentally well, they can perform their tasks more efficiently, ultimately leading to improved productivity and overall organisational success. Health surveillance plays a pivotal role in maintaining employee wellbeing, which directly correlates with performance.
I: Lastly, could you touch upon the cost-saving aspect of health surveillance?
T: Of course. While investing in health surveillance programs may appear as an additional expense, it can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. Early detection and intervention can prevent costly medical treatments, workers’ compensation claims, and potential legal liabilities. This proactive approach to employee health is an investment that pays off in terms of reduced financial burden.
I: Thank you for providing valuable insights into why is health surveillance important for both employees and businesses. Before we conclude, could you share how Fusion occupational health offers these services to clients?
T: Certainly. Fusion occupational health provides regular health surveillance services, including reminders and comprehensive analysis and reporting. Our goal is to ensure that our clients not only meet their legal obligations but also showcase their commitment to the health and safety of their workforce. For more information, please get in touch with Fusion, and we’ll be happy to assist. Our service operates across the UK and covers all shift patterns.
I: It’s been lovely, Tim, thank you for your time today and for sharing this essential information about health surveillance.