Health Surveillance

During the pandemic some of the rules for health surveillance have changed – but employers still have a duty of care to protect their workers’ health and safety.

Annual health surveillance must continue in line with your risk assessments, however for staff that are due to repeat their lung function or hearing tests in the next few weeks may be able to delay a physical examination until June. They should complete and return their confidential health questionnaire as normal, which will be reviewed by our medical staff. Anyone reporting symptoms that suggest that their health has been affected by their working environment will be contacted for a confidential, detailed discussion by telephone and, if appropriate, asked to attend a clinic for an examination. Anyone requiring a lung function or hearing test for whom there are no immediate concerns will be scheduled for an examination in June (or later if government restrictions continue). 

Health surveillance for shift workers, those whose skin may be affected by work and those exposed to vibrations, is mostly undertaken with a simple, confidential questionnaire – these can continue as normal.

Fitness for safety critical work

If your employee undertakes safety critical work as part of their daily duties, a Fitness for Work medical is usually advised. Due to these unprecedented times, it is advised to initially conduct a risk assessment indicating if staff should maintain a Fitness for Safety Critical Work certificate or allow it to be extended for up to three months. This needs to be assessed for all safety critical job roles. Polbridge can advise on whether it will be appropriate for staff to be temporarily passed as fit on the basis of a completed health questionnaire and telephone consultation, deferring physical examinations to a later date. For essential key workers we continue to offer face-to-face appointments.

Display screen equipment

If your staff are working from home you still have a duty of care to ensure that they are working safely. This means that those who are using laptops and other display screen equipment must be given advice to protect their health. Our team can offer telephone advice on DSE and working environments to help your workers stay healthy when working from home.

Independent medical assessments

Our medical team are still available for consultations with employees referred for medical assessment due to sickness absence, presenteeism, returning to work or for Equality Act compliance. Most appointments can be undertaken by telephone or video conference and we can still provide prompt and helpful advice to managers.

Advice line

With the NHS under extreme pressure your staff may find that getting health advice is difficult. Our nurses can offer confidential health advice from 8am – 8pm seven days a week, including how to manage your symptoms, guidance on registering a Covid-19 sickness absence to get statutory sick pay, whether you should seek urgent medical assistance and advice on self-isolation and social distancing. Call us if you would like to give your employees access to this helpful and reassuring service.

Forward planning

When restrictions are lifted we expect to be busy helping businesses who have had to delay their health surveillance medicals and fitness for work medicals get up to date. We are taking bookings from June for convenient on-site medicals. We are also available to discuss setting up health surveillance schemes and other occupational health services so that your business is ready to start as soon as the current crisis eases. 

Recruitment

When restrictions are lifted we expect some employers to begin recruitment drives to bring their workforce up to the capacity needed to satisfy a steep rise in consumer demand. We’re ready to help with pre-employment and fitness for work screening, as either your sole provider or to supplement an existing service if it is unable to meet your needs. Just give us a call and we can talk about what you need and how we can help.