What is Occupational Health?

December 17 2020

Occupational health looks at the mental and physical wellbeing of employees in the workplace.

The main aim is 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.

But it also monitors the health of the workforce and supports the management of sickness absence of employees – ascertaining the nature of an illness and giving advice on how to support employees back to work.

Who is occupational health for?    

Occupational health policies and working practices benefit both the employer and the employee.

An employee receives advice and training on preventing illness and injury, as well as support back into the workplace if they do become ill.

An employer maintains a healthy workforce leading to greater productivity and greater job satisfaction for their staff.

Who can refer me to occupational health?

Employees can refer themselves to occupational health. If you think you need occupational health services, you should always speak to your employer in the first instance to understand what services are available and how you can access them.

 Alternatively, it can be a management referral. These referrals can be on the advice of a human resources team as HR ensures companies invest in proper training and education of employees when it comes to health and safety.

What are the responsibilities of my employer in terms of occupational health?

It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and therefore they must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.

Many smaller companies do not have the size of workforce to sustain a dedicated occupational health service.

For this reason, many SMEs use external occupational health providers such as My Occ Health in order to support their staff as and when needed and carry out medicals and other occupational health assessments.

How does occupational health help employees?

Occupational health provision will depend on the size of your company or organisation. It can be provided by a nurse with occupational health training and a part-time doctor, or through a range of specialists, including:

  • physiotherapists;
  • hygienists;
  • psychologists;
  • ergonomic experts;
  • occupational therapists;
  • specialist occupational health nurses and doctors.

Occupational health is usually provided at an employee’s place of work, but if your employer does not have a dedicated service, you may need to travel to attend appointments with external providers. Here at My Occ Health we offer video interviews and assessments direct to employees.

Do I have to share my medical details with my employer?

Medical details are private and confidential to every person and no manager has the right to know an employee’s medical details.

However, the employer does have a number of responsibilities relating to health for which they can ask specific questions of an occupational health service such as ours. In this scenario, our doctors and nurses are bound by the principles of patient confidentiality and act as a filter between the employee and their medical details and the employer and their specific questions.

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