Informed Consent and Data Protection
Informed consent for biological
monitoring is a requirement. That consent must be "informed",
freely given" (the worker understands what they are agreeing to and
why) and "explicit" (usually a signature). Further
information is available from HSE's guidance, HSG167.
An example consent form is available here. You
may want to design your own consent form but it should be based on
the principles in HSG167. It is the duty of the biological
monitoring services "requestor" to obtain consent from workers and
store those records appropriately.
Biological monitoring results are
workers' 'personal' data. They are usually measurement of
exposure not health and should be treated as "sensitive personal"
data (rather than "medical-in-confidence" according to Data
Protection Act criteria). This means that the data have to be
stored securely, for sufficient time (generally 40 years) and only
shared with people permitted by the worker when giving consent.
HSE Science and Research Centre
reports will be marked OFFICIAL SENSITIVE PERSONAL as they contain
sensitive personal data. Access to such data is restricted to
a limited number of staff through password protected databases and
restricted access network drives. The data is stored
indefinitely and maybe used to look at trends in data etc. but only
in anonymised formats such that no individual or company is
identifiable unless they consent. We have an obligation to
inform relevant HSE inspectors when breaches of regulation are
suspected however this is only done as a last resort and we seek to
work with our customers in the first instance to reduce exposures
where results indicate that this may be necessary.
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