What are occupational health services?
Occupational health services encompass a range of professions relating to the support of physical and mental health within the workplace, ranging from doctors and nurses to psychologists, physiotherapists, and ergonomists.
Whereas large companies may have their own internal occupational health teams, smaller companies tend to outsource this function to external providers.
Why are occupational health services important?
A key role of occupational health services is to help a company respond to any employee health issues that might occur.
A significant proportion of all sickness absence is due to psychological ill health or musculoskeletal disorders, so absence management can often become a matter of supporting long-term sickness and disability.
Once an employee health problem has initially been identified, it may be the case that expert occupational health opinion is then required to ascertain the best subsequent course of action by the company. This might involve making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the physical working environment, adopting a ‘phased return’ by adjusting working patterns, or supporting ongoing specialist medical intervention.
In addition to assisting companies in responding to any employee health issues that do arise, occupational health services also play an important role in helping prevent such problems from occurring in the first place.
Occupational health risk assessments of the working environment enable a company to pre-emptively take the actions necessary to prevent occupational illness.
Such assessments identify any hazards and the employees who may be affected by them, evaluate the risk they pose, and identify and prioritise appropriate interventions and controls.
Ongoing health checks of employees can both prevent health problems from occurring, as well as ensuring that they are capable of safely performing their job role.
Indeed, employers may face a legal obligation to regularly screen employees who carry out particular duties, or are exposed to hazardous working conditions such as noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other toxic substances.
Health monitoring can cover such areas as…
- Hearing testing
- Vision testing
- Hand and arm vibration
- Lung function testing
- Driver medical exams (eg LGV, HGV, PCV, FLT, C1, D1)
- Alcohol/drug testing
Similarly, an effective vaccination and recall system may appropriate for be employees at risk of exposure to communicable diseases, such as healthcare workers, ground keepers, plumbers, security workers, or waste handlers.
Not only does this gives confidence to the workers themselves, but also fulfils any legal obligations that employers may have.
Occupational health services can also help businesses create a positive and healthy corporate culture.
This might involve initiatives to…
- Improve mental wellbeing
- Change unhealthy behaviours, such as those relating to smoking, alcohol, or substance misuse
- Increase physical activity
- Promote healthy eating
As well as directly benefiting employees themselves, a company’s engagement with occupational health also mitigates against a number of significant business risks:
How can we help you with occupational health services?
We work closely with a number of trusted occupational health services, so just let us know what help you need and we’ll put you in touch with the most appropriate specialist.