Health Surveillance

Person using asthma inhaler Health Surveillance is defined in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act and means "the periodic review, for the purpose of protecting health and preventing occupationally related disease, of the health of employees, so that any adverse variations in their health that may be related to working conditions are identified as early as possible".

Health Surveillance Hierarchy

Where the biological agent's risk assessment deems that health surveillance is required there is normally a hierarchy:

(1) Establish a Health Record: the record may start with a Pre Employment Medical and any reviews and their outcomes etc. will be added to the record. The health record contents are regarded as sensitive personal information and medically confidential and should only be accessible to health professionals.

(2) Self Reporting of Symptoms: the employee must have the appropriate instruction, information and training to know what is relevant to report and to whom it should be reported.

(3) Inspection by a responsible person: a responsible person carries out checks on employees, for example an employee who develops a rash which is visible or somebody working with a sensitiser who develops a cough or wheeze at work.

(4) Questionnaire: Relevant questions should be asked on a periodic basis and reviewed by an occupational health nurse or doctor. Positive responses will require a review by the health professional.

(5) Special Tests: Where there is a justifiable valid reason for conducting tests such as spirometry, audiometry, blood tests, x-rays etc.

(6) Examination by a Doctor or Nurse.