Surveillance of the working environment
(according to the Occupational Health Services
Recommendation, 1985 (No. 171))
1. The surveillance of the working environment should include:
(a) identification and evaluation of the hazards and risks which may affect the workers’ safety and
(b) assessment of conditions of occupational hygiene and factors in the organization of work
which may give rise to hazards or risks to the safety and health of workers;
(c) assessment of collective and personal protective equipment;
(d) assessment where appropriate of exposure of workers to hazardous agents by valid and
generally accepted monitoring methods;
(e) assessment of control systems designed to eliminate or reduce exposure.
2. Such surveillance should be carried out in liaison with the other technical services of the
undertaking and in cooperation with the workers concerned and their representatives in the
undertaking and/or the safety and health committee, where they exist.
3. In accordance with national law and practice, data resulting from the surveillance of the
working environment should be recorded in an appropriate manner and be available to the
employer, the workers and their representatives in the undertaking concerned or the safety and
health committee, where they exist.
4. These data should be used on a confidential basis and solely to provide guidance and
advice on measures to improve the working environment and the safety and health of workers.
5. The competent authority should have access to these data. They may only be
communicated to others with the agreement of the employer and the workers or their representatives
in the undertaking or the safety and health committee, where they exist.
6. The surveillance of the working environment should entail such visits by the personnel
providing occupational health services as may be necessary to examine the factors in the working
environment which may affect the workers’ health, the environmental health conditions at the
workplace and the working conditions.
7. Without prejudice to the responsibility of each employer for the safety and health of
workers in his/her employment, and with due regard to the necessity for the workers to participate in
matters of occupational safety and health, personnel providing occupational health services should
have such of the following functions as are adequate and appropriate to the occupational risks of the
(a) carry out monitoring of workers’ exposure to hazards and risks, when necessary;
(b) advise on the possible impact on the workers’ health of the use of technologies;
(c) participate in and advise on the selection of the equipment necessary for the personal
protection of the workers against occupational hazards;
(d) collaborate in job analysis and in the study of organization and methods of work with a view
to securing a better adaptation of work to the workers;
(e) participate in the analysis of occupational accidents and occupational diseases and in accident
(f) supervise sanitary installations and other facilities for the workers, such as drinking water,
canteens and living accommodation, when provided by the employer.
8. Personnel providing occupational health services should, after informing the employer,
workers and their representatives, where appropriate: