Occupational health assessment: An employer’s guide

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Health Assured team

24 January 2019

An Occupational Health Assessment is a confidential conversation between an individual and a health professional.

These screenings are important to determine an employee's ability to carry out the duties required of them in their role.

Staff members may need a health check either before starting a new role or returning to work after an extended period off.

What is an occupational health check?

An occupational health check is the term used to describe health screenings required by an employer. It's used to prevent and reduce work-related injuries.

In most cases, it can determine if an employee is well suited to a particular role. For example, roles that involve physical abilities like heavy lifting will require a health check.

Occupational health assessment: What to expect

An initial conversation with a consultant can take up to 45 minutes. At this point, they'll collect all the relevant information needed to give an informed opinion. There'll also be a review at the end of the initial consultation that'll need an extra 30 minutes.

They’ll ask about any pre-existing conditions as well as any treatment they might be receiving. As well as any difficulties arising from the work being undertaken and any activities out of work that they’re involved with.

In some cases, the health professional may require more information about an employee’s health history. If so, they’ll need to explain why they need said information.

They’ll also need the individual to sign a consent form that allows them to approach a GP or hospital specialist.

Following the assessment, the health professional will send a certificate of fitness for work. This will detail the employee’s ability to work and proposals for any job modifications or adjustments to support them in the workplace. No medical information will be included.

Health risk factors

The World Health Organisation (WHO) identified eight factors that they class as risks to our health. During the initial consultation, the specialist may inquire about any of the following:

  1. Smoking
  2. Drinking
  3. Obesity
  4. Poor diet.
  5. Lack of exercise.
  6. High cholesterol.
  7. High blood glucose.
  8. High blood pressure.

Benefits of occupational health screening – Employers

  • Reduced illness-related days – absences.
  • Increased staff retention, engagement, and productivity.
  • Improved team-working.
  • Increased job satisfaction.

Benefits of occupational health screening – Employees

  • Reduced health risks.
  • Improved performance.
  • A better understanding of mental health.
  • Access to physical and mental health information.
  • Helps overcome or manage existing health problems.
  • Look out for previous unidentified issues early on.
  • Lifestyle advice (smoking, drinking, weight loss, etc.) to enhance long-term benefits.

Why choose occupational health assessment?

Depending on your company, industry, and regulations, these occupational health services serve various purposes including:

  • Establishing a candidate’s ability to meet the physical requirements of a role.
  • Monitoring staff’s health status at appropriate intervals in cases where the job involves exposure to health hazards.
  • Establishing an employee’s ability to return to work after a prolonged absence.
  • Recognising the conditions under which staff members with health conditions may work. They include illnesses, disabilities and injuries are able to continue working.
  • Determining the long term implications of exposure to hazardous substances.

Types of occupational health screening

Employee health screening comes in different forms including:

  • Pre-employment health checks: It's offered to new workers to identify any health-related issues that require support while at work.
  • NHS Health Checks: Offered to everybody in England every five years.
  • Health checks/lifestyle checks: There are general health checks offered to staff as part of an employee assistance programme.
  • Health surveillance: Regular checks for existing personnel. It may be a legal requirement if your staff after exposure to dangerous substances at work.

To find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, contact Health Assured free on: 0844 892 2493.

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