Covid-19 and occupational health for UK employers in 2021

December 17 2020

The role of occupational health has become integral in companies across the UK as employers look at the effect of COVID-19 on safeguarding the workforce and managing risks.
COVID-19 testing has become a permanent aspect of occupational health for many employers, and as companies prepare for a return to work following the administering of a vaccine to those who are vulnerable, occupational health has an extremely important part to play.

Employee health and wellbeing

The Royal College of Physicians has called on the Government to “positively influence the health and wellbeing” of the working population by improving access to Occupational Health services.

The article, written by Dr Kaveh Asanati FFOM, consultant occupational physician and Nick Pahl, CEO of the Society of Occupational Medicine, also details that the health effects of widespread unemployment due to the outbreak could be worse than COVID-19 itself.

External occupational health service assessments

Occupational health services such as ours help people return to work following an illness by providing independent and impartial assessments to employers and employees regarding the nature of their health problems – and any adjustments within the workplace that may help people start working again.

When employers are looking at which members of their workforce are able to return, especially if there is a question over vulnerability or the effects of ‘long-COVID’ the work of Occupational Health services will be the first step.

Occupational health and COVID-19

Occupational Health services already dealing with COVID-19 consider workers’ individual vulnerability in relation to all known risk factors including age, sex, ethnicity, body mass index and underlying medical conditions.

This enables employers to estimate the individual risk to their staff and occupational health advice and reports can be used to make decisions on how to redeploy staff.

There are two aspects of Occupational Health:

Preventative – occupational health policies encourage safe working practices and look at ergonomics, which can range from how you sit at your desk to manual lifting. These policies need to be adapted to include reference to COVID-19 but this can be done by employers.

Monitoring – monitors the health of the workforce and supports the management of sickness absence of employees. This is where an external company will be needed for small to medium enterprises to assist in the monitoring of COVID-19 within the workplace and managing those who have been affected by it.

Should you need any further information or assistance with assessments for staff please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0330 094 5866.

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