Occupational Health

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss occupational health, occupational health services, and examples of such assessments.

It's your responsibility as an employer to ensure the health and wellbeing of your staff. A great way to do this is by utilising occupational health services.

An occupational health service monitors both the physical and mental health of your employees. This is especially necessary in more dangerous industries, such as welding, construction, and manufacturing.

Failure to take care of staff wellbeing could lead to higher sickness absence, negligence fines, and even reputational damage.

In this guide, we'll discuss occupational health, occupational health services, and examples of such assessments.

What is occupational health?

Occupational health is an assessment that reviews how a working environment or job affects a person’s health. Occupational therapists are specifically trained so they can assess whether staff are fit to work in a certain role - both physically and emotionally.

For example, welding workers will have more exposure to welding fume - which can cause long-term respiratory problems. Through occupational medicine and other services, the employer can determine which Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - and what amount - could prevent the risk of exposure.

Why is occupational Health & Safety important?

Occupational Health & Safety is important for several reasons. Most significantly, it ensures the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees, but it also helps your business:

  • Reduce sickness absence.
  • Reinforce itself as a trusted employer.
  • Retain healthier and happier employees.

Not to mention, it also helps your company comply with relevant employment legislation.

What legislation covers occupational Health & Safety?

There are two main types of legislation that covers occupational Health & Safety. The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and The Equality Act (2010). Let's take a look at both in more detail.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) outlines the duty of care employers must have for staff and members of the public. As well as the level of care employees should have for each other.

Under the act, workplaces must provide:

  • Adequate training for employees, so they know what Health & Safety procedures need to be followed.
  • Adequate welfare and safety provisions to ensure staff can work safely, with little-to-no risk.

If you fail to comply with the above, the Health and Safety Executive could take criminal action against you. As a result, your workplace might suffer from fines, business closure, and even imprisonment.

The Equality Act (2010)

The Equality Act (2010) is a legislation which aims to protect individuals from discrimination. It also outlines certain personal characteristics which require extra protection. This prevents prejudice, such as disability, race, and age discrimination, from occurring in the workplace.

As it's classed as a protected characteristic, a disabled employee is legally entitled to reasonable adjustments. If you fail to make these adjustments, employees could submit a discrimination claim against you. Consequently, your company may experience financial loss and reputational damage.

It's not a legal requirement for employers to offer occupational health assessments to workers with ill-health or disabilities. However, these specialists can offer advice on how to deal with things like medical capability procedures.

What are some examples of occupational health services?

There are several occupational health services that you should be aware of, so you can uphold a safe working environment. For example, drug and alcohol screenings.

Other examples of an occupational health service include:

  • Pre-placement health assessments: This ensures staff are medically fit to fulfill their duties.
  • Compliance physicals: These are assessments that ensure present employees are fit for work.
  • Work-related injury care: This service provides on-site medical treatment should an incident occur.

Some businesses offer in-house occupational health assessments. However, this might not be possible for companies operating on a smaller scale with fewer resources.

What is an occupational health check?

An occupational health check is a medical assessment. It helps to establish whether an employer needs to make any adjustments to their workplace - or their employee's roles.

They also allow companies to come up with developing solutions that:

Overall, the above helps employers provide an environment that doesn't impact their workers' Health & Safety. Not to mention, it can also reduce sickness absence.

How much does an occupational health assessment cost?

The cost of an occupational health assessment will vary. This depends on several factors, such as the provider being used, as well as:

  • The type of examination it is.
  • The location of the provider.
  • The specific requirements of the employer.

But, as a general guide, the cost of occupational health checks ranges from £75 to £500. Ensure you use services accredited with the SEQOHS (Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service) scheme.

Staff unable to work as a result of long-term sickness will need temporary or permanent changes made to their role.

What happens if occupational health says an employee is not fit for work?

If occupational health says an employee is not fit for work, you might need to implement further safety regulations. For example, if a staff member works with hazardous substances, they might need extra PPE to ensure their health and wellbeing.

If an employee is considered disabled under The Equality Act (2010), see if you can make any reasonable adjustments to help them get back to work. However, if there are no reasonable adjustments to be made, it might be fair to dismiss them.

Dismissal should always be the last possible resort. But, if an employee is permanently unable to do their job as a result of ill health, you may have grounds to dismiss them. This is called an ill health capability dismissal. You might also be able to offer ill-health retirement.

What is ill-health retirement?

Ill health retirement is when an employee is allowed to retire and receive their pension before the age of 55 (or whatever age the scheme states).

Staff can only receive this type of retirement if they have a:

  • Long-term sickness.
  • Disability or another medical condition.

So, if one of your employee's health is diminished to the point they cannot return to the same role, they could apply for ill-health early retirement. But, this is only if they are a member of a relevant pension scheme.

Get expert advice on occupational health from Peninsula

It's your legal obligation to care for your workers' health and wellbeing. This means conducting statutory health surveillance by using occupational health services. All of which will help your staff have a safe, rewarding and interesting career with you.

If you don't, employees might develop physical and mental health issues. Consequently, you could face higher sickness absence, negligence fines, and damage to your business's reputation.

Peninsula offers expert and independent advice on occupational health. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.


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