Managing occupational health issues at work

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Health Assured team

26 March 2019

Occupational health issues in the working environment

Occupational health & safety issues at work are responsible for over a million cases of worker ill-health each year. Given that this costs the UK economy an estimated £15 billion, it’s not difficult to see why safety and health is important in the workplace. An accident or illness could cost you as an employer a lot of money.

What are occupational health issues?

Put simply, occupational health deals with all aspects of physical and mental health in the workplace. Anything which causes risk or hazard to an employee—physical or mentally—is an occupational health issue.

There are many occupational health and safety challenges and issues faced by employers. Stress, sickness and unsafe working practices all contribute to absence, illness and injury. And when a workforce is demoralised by these issues, productivity dips—to the tune of £15 billion, remember.

What can I do to lessen these issues?

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff. All organisations have occupational health and safety employer rights and responsibilities and need to not only plan but execute and maintain suitable health and safety arrangements.

You should have processes and procedures in place which meet the requirements laid out in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

At a minimum, you should:

  • Have a written policy in place (if you employ five or more people).
  • Assess the risks to anyone who could be affected by your activities, and record them in writing.
  • Arrange the planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the measures in place.
  • Provide information about risks, with instruction and training on dealing with them.
  • Ensure there is appropriate supervision, and consult with employees about their needs.

This might all sound complex, but there’s plenty of guidance and advice available.

Occupational health assessments

Occupational Health assessment screenings are used to assess whether an employee is suited to a particular role, whether before starting anew or returning after a sickness. They’re an important step in filtering out potential issues in occupational health and making adjustments to minimise risk.

What happens at an occupational health appointment?

At first, information is gathered in a brief chat with a consultant. This should take about 45 minutes, with a 30-minute review at the end. They’ll ask about pre-existing conditions, treatments and difficulties in the work being undertaken.

They’ll need the employee to sign a consent form—this is simply in order to approach their GP or specialist, to ask any further questions needed.

Afterwards, the health professional carrying out the assessment will send a certificate of fitness for work. This doesn’t include medical information—just details of the employee’s ability to work, along with recommended modifications or adjustments to support them.

These screenings are a vital part of your responsibilities in managing occupational health risks—you should take advantage of the many occupational health services for employers available, and ensure your workspace is a healthy and safe one for all involved.

If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on: 0800 206 2533

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