Guide to night worker health assessments

Night worker health assessment occupational health

Guide to night worker health assessment

Providing night worker health assessments is a legal obligation for all employers in the UK who have night workers. Night workers, also known as shift workers or those working non-traditional hours, face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining their health and well-being. We provide rapid night worker screening services for employers.

Night work has been associated with several health issues, including sleep disturbances, digestive problems, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of workplace accidents. These health issues can lead to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism, which can negatively impact your business.

Workers who regularly work at least 3 hours during a ‘night period’ are night workers. A ‘night period’ is 11pm to 6am, unless the worker and employer agree a different time. There are certain conditions that may make it very difficult for someone to work at nights, such as having had a heart attack, certain cancers, psychological ill-health, epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s, strokes and many more.

Under UK law, employers are required to offer a health assessment to all employees before they start night work and regularly from then. This is to ensure that their health is not being negatively impacted by working at night. The assessment can be a questionnaire, rather than an in-person meeting.

Working Time Regulations 1998

The specific legislation governing night work health assessments is the Working Time Regulations 1998. These regulations state that employers must offer night workers a free health assessment before an employee starts night work, if they request one or regularly after they commence the work.

Although not explicitly required by law, those workers who are older than 50 have a strong basis for being assessed more frequently. Any assessment should consider the presence and severity of any condition, how intense the night schedule is, how the employee feels and how any condition is managed.

The Working Time Regulations also regulate the working hours of night workers, setting limits on the average number of night hours worked per week and ensuring that night workers receive regular health assessments.

Additionally, if an employer is aware that a night worker has a health issue that may be made worse by night work, they must offer a health assessment regardless of whether the worker has requested one.

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 also require employers to carry out a risk assessment for employees who regularly use display screen equipment (including computers) as a significant part of their normal work. If an employee is considered a “night worker,” this risk assessment must consider the impact of working at night on their health and safety.

What do night worker assessments cover?

The assessment typically includes a review of the individual’s medical history, a physical examination, and a discussion of their work schedule, sleep patterns, and any related health concerns.

The health assessment should consider the specific health risks associated with night work, such as sleep disturbance, and assess whether the worker is capable of performing their job safely and without harm to their health.

If the health assessment identifies a problem, the employer must take appropriate action to address it, such as adjusting the worker’s hours or duties.

One of the primary goals of a night worker health assessment is to identify any potential health risks and provide recommendations for addressing them. For example, if an individual is experiencing sleep disturbances, the assessment may recommend changes to their sleep environment, such as using blackout curtains or a white noise machine, or suggest ways to improve their sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine and electronics before bed.

Another important aspect of a night worker health assessment is monitoring the individual’s overall health. For example, regular monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help detect any potential cardiovascular issues early on. The assessment may also include recommendations for lifestyle changes, such as exercise and healthy eating, to help prevent or manage health issues.

Overall, the aim of the health assessment is to protect the health and safety of night workers, and to ensure that they are able to carry out their job without putting themselves or others at risk.

How to implement night worker health assessments?

There are several ways to implement a night worker health assessment program. The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance to employers on conducting risk assessments for night workers, which should consider factors such as lighting levels, noise levels, temperature, and workload.

You can send health questionnaires to employees yourself, however, the Office of the Information Commissioner advises special category medical information should only be processed by a medical professional.

Partnering with an occupational health provider is the quickest and easiest way to implement a night worker health assessment programme. There’s more information about our service available on our website too.

Some employers choose to provide the assessments on-site or in-person at a clinic, although the law says that offering a questionnaire every year is enough to fulfil your obligations.

Employers must keep records of night workers’ working hours, to show they are not exceeding the limits. The records must be kept for at least 2 years.

Repeat assessments must be offered regularly, which most employers interpret as annually. An employer must offer suitable alternative work where possible if a worker has health problems that a doctor says are related to night work.


By identifying and addressing any potential health risks and providing resources and support, you can ensure you are compliant with the law. You can also improve the health of your employees, reduce absenteeism and boost productivity.

Night worker health assessments are a highly cost-effective way to stay on the right side of the law. They can also help you support the health and well-being of your night workers. 

About Occupational Health Assessment Ltd – A Nationwide Occupational Health Provider


Occupational Health Assessment Ltd provides rapid access to expert occupational health support for businesses across the United Kingdom. Appointments are available nationwide within two days.


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