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New online guidance makes it easier to understand health surveillance

18 March 2013

New online guidance has been launched to make it easier for employers to understand what they need to do to check and protect their workers’ health.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new guidelines on health surveillance, which may be needed if there is a risk that workers could be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances likely to harm their health.

Developed with industry, the clear and simple guidance makes it easier for employers to decide whether their workers need health surveillance, how to go about it and how to use the results. The guidance also makes it clearer when action is not needed, saving lower-risk businesses, such as those that are office- based, from wasting time and money.

Past exposure to harmful substances at work is responsible for an estimated 12,000 deaths each year.

Paul Beaumont, HSE’s policy lead for health surveillance, said:

"We know from our work with industry that some businesses can be unclear about when health surveillance is needed and how to implement it, so are deterred from taking action.

"Other companies could be wasting money unnecessarily by implementing it where it’s not needed.

"This new guidance, developed with industry, should help take any mystery away and give employers the confidence to know whether or not health surveillance is appropriate.

"Ultimately, better targeted health surveillance can lead to a healthier workforce and a more productive business."

The new online guidance replaces HSG61 "Health Surveillance at Work". It can be found online at

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.

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