SC24 - Occupational Health screening and surveillance
29 Sep 2022



Occupational Health Screening and Surveillance




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Related UK​RI code



Initial la​unchMarch 2009
1.1Minor changes to comply with changes to other codesNovember 2011
1.2Amendments to audit checklistMay 2013
1.3Additions to 4.3 re transfer of health surveillance and monitoring recordsJuly 2013
1.4Amendment to 'Night Working' in Appendix 1 and addition of Document Retention AppendixSept 2014
Minor change to Document Retention Policy
June 2017
​Minor update to reflect the launch of SHE Assure
​October 2018​
​Update to Appendix 1 and document retention
​April 2019​
​Change to Document Retention policy to reflect UKRI code
​December 2019
​Major update to Appendix 1 and some other minor updates
June 2022​
Update to part of Appendix 1​​December 2022​
​Minor update to Appendix 1
​February 2024​

NB - The changes to version 2.0 were considerable ​and readers should assume that significant portions of the body and Appendices have changed.

1. Purpose​

Absence arising from work related, or occupational, ill health or disease in the UK far exceeds the impact of that arising from occupational injuries.

While the cost and impact of an injury is easily related to a specific incident and the effects generally immediate, occupational ill health or disease is typically characterised by cumulative and low level exposure to hazards for which the impact can take many years to manifest. Occupational ill health or disease is also characterised by their long term or chronic nature resulting in permanent disability and/or suffering affecting an individual's quality of life. The consequences of long term absence arising from occupational ill health or disease can be financially significant to both employer and employee.

Most occupational ill health or disease can be prevented by taking effective steps to control the hazards to health that arise from for example: hazardous substances; radiation; improper use of display screen equipment; manual handling; vibrating machinery; noise etc.

The STFC is committed to minimising the incidence of occupational ill health or disease through the effective control of such hazards, the implementation of proactive supporting strategies to demonstrate that control measures remain effective and to confirm the medical fitness of individuals to take on and continue in particular roles.

These supporting strategies include:

  • New starter Pre-placement Questionnaires (PPQs)
  • Health Screening; and
  • Health Surveillance.

This code aims to deliver consistent occupational health standards across all STFC sites and meet the occupational health requirements set out in legislation, for example:

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999.
  • The Noise at Work Regulations, 2005.
  • Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2017

Occupational Health service provision is available to all STFC staff but may vary in the manner in which it is delivered depending on location, from full time on site provision to contracted off site services.

2. Scope

This code applies to all  STFC staff who are responsible for staff, or others, whose work may expose them to hazards for which a risk assessment requires health screening or health surveillance in order to confirm their medical fitness to undertake their role.

Contractors, tenants, visitors and facility users shall ensure that they undertake necessary risk assessments prior to undertaking activities on STFC sites and any health screening or health surveillance as necessary is carried out.

This code does not address the particular management controls that should be employed to minimise the potential for occupational ill health or disease. These are covered by specific codes relating to those hazards for example: Radiation Management; Manual Handling; Control ​of Noise etc where the need for health surveillance will be noted.

3. Definitions

3.1 Pre-placement Questionnaires (PPQs)

After a job offer is issued by UKRI to a prospective member of staff, an online form is issued which allows the individual to disclose any existing health conditions or disability which they believe may affect their ability to undertake the role being offered. Occupational Health (OH) will review this information and, if necessary, seek more information from the person either by phone, Zoom or in person.

For example, an assessment may be required if the individual’s health condition may:

  • limit or prevent the performance of certain tasks within the role (e.g. a musculoskeletal condition that limits mobility);
  • be made worse by certain tasks within the role (e.g. pre-existing skin condition which may be exacerbated if handling certain substances); or
  • make certain tasks unsafe for them and for others within the role (e.g. colour blindness and failure recognise safe/unsafe condition signals).

The report generated by OH will provide guidance to the line manager to allow them to make reasonable workplace adjustments and/or adaptations to support the individual’s health needs, and to allow the individual to work safely.

See Appendix 2 for a flowchart detailing the pre placement process within STFC.

3.1 Health Screening

The existing health status of an individual may compromise their ability to undertake a task defined as safety critical, thereby posing a significant risk to the health and safety of others. Health Screening is any test or examination, whether legally required, stipulated as an STFC requirement or through specific activity risk assessment, which is intended to establish both:

  • an individual’s baseline health prior to engagement on a task or potential exposure to a hazard; and
  • continued monitoring to ensure early detection of any health issues which would, combined with their role, put them at increased risk of disease or injury.

It is important that such workers are not suffering from pre-existing or uncontrolled medical conditions, or having any medical treatment which is likely to present a risk such as:

  • sudden loss of consciousness or incapacity.
  • diminished visual acuity or hearing loss.
  • impairment of situational awareness, concentration or balance.
  • loss of coordination or significant limitation in mobility.

Similarly, the activity being undertaken may impose limitations or restrictions against which the employee undertaking the task may need to be medically assessed, for example:

  • shoulder, chest and waist width to enter a confined space.
  • limb dexterity and movement to climb ladders or scaffolding.
  • weight and BMI limits to comply with harness weight restrictions, etc.

Appendix 1 provides a list of STFC roles and activities for which Health Screening is required.

3.3 Health Surveillance

Health Surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks which allow for early identification of ill health and helps identify any corrective action needed to control potential exposures. It may be required by law if an individual is potentially exposed to noise or vibration; biological agents and other hazardous substances such as solvents, fumes, dusts; or ionising radiation.

The hierarchy of control measures must be applied to control exposure to these agents as identified in a risk assessment, and individuals involved in the work must be trained to an appropriate standard. Where potentially significant exposures still remain, a health surveillance programme may be appropriate if the following criteria are met:

  • an individual is being exposed to a hazard that is linked to an identifiable disease of adverse health effect, AND
  • there is reasonable chance that the disease or adverse health effect may occur under the conditions of work, AND
  • there are valid techniques of detecting the disease or adverse health effect.

Health Surveillance is important because it:

  • allows detection of ill health effects at an early stage, so that employers can introduce better controls to prevent any health condition deteriorating.
  • provides data to help employers evaluate health risks.
  • empowers employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health.
  • highlights lapses in workplace control measures, therefore informing revision of the risk assessment.
  • presents an opportunity to educate and reinforce the training of employees on the use of control measures, including personal. protective equipment, and the impact on their health if control measures are not applied properly.

3.4 Appointed Doctor

An appointed doctor is a registered medical practitioner appointed by HSE to undertake statutory medical surveillance. HSE is responsible for the following regulations where medical surveillance conducted by an appointed doctor may be required:

  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.
  • Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002.
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended).
  • Work in Compressed Air Regulations 1996.​

The Appointed Doctor is also referred to in the Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 as the relevant doctor in accordance with Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.

3.5 Classified Person

An individual designated as such, under regulation 21(1) of the Ionising Radiation Regulations, 2017.

3.6 Health Record

In relation to an employee, the HSE defined record of health surveillance of that employee maintained by the STFC.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Line Managers and Supervisors shall:
  • 4.1.1 In undertaking risk assessment of work, as defined in STFC SHE Code 6: Risk Management, or any other STFC SHE code, ensure that specific consideration is given to health risks arising from the work activities undertaken. Appendix 1 details the requirement for health screening/surveillance for hazards which may be encountered in STFC. Where relevant work is undertaken by contractors, ensure that their employer abides by the principles of this Code for the hazards they work with on STFC sites.
  • 4.1.2 When recruiting, ensure the online section of the ‘Authority to Recruit’ form related to work hazards is completed as this information is forwarded to Occupational Health to initiate appropriate, health screening/surveillance.
  • 4.1.3 Regularly review the health screening/surveillance data for their team, ensuring it is accurate in relation to the relevant activity risk assessments and Appendix 1 of this code.
  • 4.1.4 As appropriate seek the guidance and advice of the STFC SHE Group or Occupational Health teams with respect to the need for health screening and/or health surveillance.
  • 4.1.5 Ensure that all staff have sufficient information, instruction and training to understand the potential for, symptoms of, and the need to report all instances of occupational ill health or disease arising from the hazards likely to be encountered during the course of their work.
  • 4.1.6 Ensure all new staff undertake, as detailed in Appendix 1​, health screening/surveillance necessary for the hazards likely to be encountered during the course of their work.
  • 4.1.7 Immediately report all actual or suspected instances of occupational ill health or disease to the STFC SHE Group see STFC SHE Code 5: Incident reporting and investigation and Occupational Health.
4.2 STFC Staff shall:
  • 4.2.1 Report to their line manager or supervisor any pre-existing medical or health condition that may be exacerbated as a result of their STFC employment, or which may affect their ability to undertake their role safely.
  • 4.2.2 Report to their line manager or supervisor any new or temporary change in health status that may be exacerbated as a result of their STFC employment, or which may affect their ability to undertake their role safely.
  • 4.2.3 Follow all instruction and training, and safe systems of work or operating instructions, with respect to the potential health hazards associated with their work.
  • 4.2.4 Report promptly to their supervisor or line manger any symptoms or ill health which they believe may be related to their work, for example cough, wheeze or rash.
4.3 Occupational Health shall:
  • 4.3.1 Provide pro-active and reactive advice, guidance and support to line managers with respect to occupational health hazards and their assessment, and the clinical investigation of incidents of occupational ill health.
  • 4.3.2 Co-ordinate and complete programmes of health assessments: pre-employment medical assessments; and statutory medical assessments (see Appendix 1) and health surveillance and health screening, as requested by line managers. Provide line management with a ‘Health Record’ for staff – a non-medically confidential certificate describing an individual’s fitness for work arising from health assessments. Manage the periodic recall of individuals for health assessments.
  • 4.3.3 Manage all health records and records of exposure monitoring. Both electronic and paper clinical records will transfer securely when the occupational health contract transfers between suppliers. ‘Clinical Records’ are medically confidential records of an individual’s health managed by health professionals under the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 1998.
  • 4.3.5 In the event that STFC ceases to operate, offer all ‘Health Records’, ‘Clinical Records’ and records of exposure monitoring to the relevant local HSE office.
  • 4.3.6 Maintain ‘Health Records’, ‘Clinical Records’ and records of exposure monitoring ensuring as per the document retention policy, see Appendix 5.​
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