20th March 2018

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES THAN EVER BEFORE, BUT WHAT IS THE ROLE OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH IN THE MODERN WORKPLACE?

Every modern business should have a robust occupational health programme, designed to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff. The role of occupational health within modern workplaces is becoming more and more important as many businesses begin implementing strict internal policies with the help of third party occupational health providers. However, before we can discuss the role of occupational health, we need to clarify what we mean by occupational health.

WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH?

I know, it sounds like a silly question. Every business should be more than acquainted with the general premise of occupational health. However, before we can discuss the role of occupational health we need to set out exactly what occupational health is and how it can help your business.

Occupational health is a general term used to describe a collection of services aimed to protect the health of your staff and instil a preventative, rather than reactionary, mentality to employee health and wellbeing. By protecting the health and wellbeing of your staff you will also be able to reduce sickness absence within your workplace which in turns will reduce the costs associated with sickness absence. By fully understanding the role of occupational health you will also be able to highlight any members of staff who may potentially suffer from work related illnesses in the future and take adequate steps to hopefully prevent these illnesses from ever manifesting themselves.

What Occupational Health Services Are Available?

Now you’ve got a better understanding of what occupational health is, we can begin to further discuss the role of occupational health within your business. So what would a business typically be looking for if they were in need of an occupational health expert? The truth is, there are many services which fall under the umbrella of “occupational health”. Below, we discus the many services in more detail to help you understand what the role of occupational health should be within business.

Management Referrals

Our management referral programme ensures that your employees are able to remain in work and continue providing you with their regular level of service. We deliver a fast and effective professional intervention service, whether your employee is on a long term sick, is frequently absent for short periods of time or if you just have a general concern regarding their health or wellness within the workplace.

If you feel an employee would benefit from seeing an occupational health physician then a management referral can be an incredibly valuable tool. Our doctors will conduct a confidential assessment by telephone or in person with your employee(s), and provide them with structured advice and recommendations on the steps they need to take to improve their health. We will also provide you, the employer, with a comprehensive management referral report advising of your employee’s fitness for work, as well as any restrictions and/or adaptations which we recommend you make within their working environment. We will also provide relevant eligibility for retirement on the grounds of ill health, should this be required.

Safety Critical Medicals

A safety critical medical may be required for businesses where an employees workload may involve high risk tasks. This would mean that the employee would need to be both physically and mentally fit to allow them to safely fulfil their role. These jobs can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Working at height
  • Fork lift truck operator
  • Working in a confined space
  • Offshore workers
  • Fire fighters
  • Construction workers
  • Working in extreme temperatures

As a business, it is your duty of care to ensure that all of your employees are fit for work. To do this, you must ensure that any underlying health conditions are taken into account and the correct accommodations are put into place, if required. A safety critical medical should be carried out before any employee begins working for you and they must be reassessed on an annual basis in order to ensure safe working practices. The medical will include a comprehensive questionnaire, musculoskeletal assessment, vision, cardiovascular assessment, urine analysis, lung function and hearing tests.

Drugs And Alcohol Testing

We’re able to provide all companies with a comprehensive drugs and alcohol misuse package, which incorporates policies, training and testing programmes. Our occupational health team can conduct drugs and/or alcohol screening to determine if employees are misusing them. Screening options include pre-placement, random, compliance or 24 hour notice (with cause) testing.

We can test for the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methadone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Opiates

If you believe there is a culture of alcohol misuse within your workplace or would like to adopt an alcohol screening policy, you should think carefully about what you want to achieve from the screening and what you will do with the information it generates. Screening itself is never a complete answer to the problems which are caused by alcohol misuse.

Health And Wellbeing Programmes

A positive health and wellbeing programme promotes good health among your employees and can help keep them healthy and happy as well as contributing towards a reduction in workplace accidents and work related stress. Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick, helping reduce your absentee rates. Workplace health programmes have been proven to reduce absenteeism, in turn boosting productivity, profitability and improving your bottom line. Educating your employees on the steps they can take to be responsible for and improve their health – including health and wellbeing days, stop smoking clinics and healthy eating classes – can help you build a healthier and more effective workforce.

Workplace Vaccinations

Protect your employees from viruses such as flu and hepatitis B with the ELAS Occupational Health vaccinations service. Workplace vaccinations have various benefits to your business. Not only do they cut down the amount of working time that your employees lose due to flu, they also prevent the spread of illness and help create a healthier working environment. Vaccinations are administered with minimal disruption to your business thanks to our mobile units.

Pre-Placement Questionnaires

It takes a significant time and effort to recruit new employees and you want to know that your selected candidate is fully fit for their new role. A pre-placement health assessment can be used to establish a baseline assessment prior to them being exposed to any workplace hazards. The Equality Act 2010 means it’s no longer legal to conduct pre-employment questionnaires but pre-placement health assessments can be given once an offer of employment has been made. This will help you:

  • Identify if the prospective employee is medically fit to fulfil the duties of the role, with a view to making any necessary adjustments
  • Review the proposed role to ensure that it does not adversely affect the individual’s health
  • Make recommendations to reduce or remove the risk, if required

If any concerns arise following the completed health questionnaire then one of our occupational health practitioners will follow up and relay any recommendations (if required). Our online pre-placement portal allows employers to collect personal health information quickly and easily. Each health screening or pre placement questionnaires can be tailored specifically for the role required and candidates can respond instantly, making the recruitment process faster and more efficient. All results are reviewed by our occupational health advisor and the employee will be categorised as either fit for work, fit for work with restrictions or not fit for work.

Health Assessments

Health Assessments refers to a group of specific, job related assessments that are required in certain industries. These include:

STILL UNSURE OF THE ROLE OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH IN MODERN BUSINESSES?

Not to worry, our team are on hand to help you with any of your occupational health needs. gives us a call today on 0845 862 8020


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