Royal Mail Group Property & Facilities Solutions Limited (RMG P&FSL) – Health Surveillance Programme:
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been working with Royal Mail Group, Property & Facilities Solutions Limited in a joint extensive review of the health surveillance support programme for the RMP&FSL engineering grades, to be deployed in early 2020.
What is Health Surveillance?
Health Surveillance is a term that is used to describe a system of regular health checks that detect the early signs of work-related ill health among employees exposed to certain health risks, as set down in law and within control limits as determined by the Health and Safety Executive. Workplace health surveillance is a health and safety at work legal requirement where there is exposure to physical hazards, including (but not limited to): noise, vibration, solvents and fumes, lead, dusts and other substances potentially hazardous to health.
What are the benefits of Health Surveillance?
Providing a healthy workplace is as important as providing a safe place of work and safe systems of work. Health surveillance can be used to help identify where more needs to be done to control risks and where early signs of work-related ill health are detected, employers can then take action to prevent further harm and protect employees.
Health surveillance is a legal requirement and should not be confused with:
- Workplace wellbeing checks, such as promoting healthy living.
- Fitness to work examinations e.g., DfT fitness to drive, operate cranes, forklift trucks or health assessments requested by night employees.
Is the Health Surveillance programme voluntary?
Royal Mail Group is legally required to provide health surveillance where there is an identified risk to health from hazardous substances. An employee must however, give their informed consent for health surveillance and are free to withdraw consent at any time. It must be emphasised, however, that health surveillance is there for the workforce’s protection and wellbeing. The CWU and Unite/CMA have been fully consulted and involved in the development of the programme. The Unions support the initiative and recommend employees participate.
Are there any exceptions?
Statutory medical surveillance is required, for example, under the Control of Lead at Work, Regulation 10, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations Regulation 11, Noise at Work Regulations Regulation 9, Vibration Regulations, Regulation 7 etc.
If medical surveillance is required by role and a person does not wish to participate, a review of related work activities will be undertaken.
Who is the occupational health provider?
Optima Health, Royal Mail Group’s approved occupational health provider will undertake the health surveillance appointments. Information gathered by Optima Health will be used solely as part of the Health Surveillance Programme to support and assist employees and to monitor their health and wellbeing and to ensure that the controls in place are adequate. It will be used for no other purpose and is ‘confidential’.
What happens next?
The CWU has been working with Royal Mail Group, Property and Facilities Solutions to create a comprehensive information pack which will be briefed out to teams by their managers prior to health surveillance appointments being arranged. The information contains a Q and A document which covers frequently asked questions. The health surveillance appointments will be arranged to coincide with team briefings where possible to reduce the amount of additional driving for those attending appointments.
Further information will be disseminated by Royal Mail Property and Facilities Solutions in due course. The CWU and Unite/CMA will continue to be fully involved at all levels in the Health Surveillance Programme both monitoring its deployment and undertaking a joint review at the appropriate time.
- Occupational Health Surveillance – RMP&FS/ Unions Joint Statement
- RMPFS – Health Surveillance Q & A
- ‘How To’ Health Surveillance Employees Guide
- Example Report Letter – Hearing
- Example Report Letter – Vibration
- Example Report Letter – Skin
- HSE Guidance on Health Surveillance & Regulations Extracts – COSHH, Lead, Noise, Vibration.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer