What is occupational health?
Occupational health is a large and varied specialism that aims to prevent work-related ill health and promote physical and mental wellbeing.
Putting in place a positive occupational health culture can improve staff morale and employee engagement, increase productivity, and reduce absence levels. The most successful companies recognise that ensuring employee health, wellbeing, and engagement is key to their success and business performance.
A healthier, happier workforce can lead to reduced absence levels, lower recruitment and training costs, higher retention rates, more engaged staff, and less grievances and client complaints.
This is supported by a
2019 meta-analysis by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, which found that higher wellbeing is positively correlated with productivity and business profitability. As well as this, a £1 investment in in occupational health services leads to £1.93 in savings from reduced absenteeism.
Occupational health isn’t just a “nice-to-have”, either. In some industries and for some activities, occupational health intervention will be a legal necessity – such as Asbestos medicals.
Good occupational health services are central to the effective management of workplace health. They can:
protect and promote the health and wellbeing of the working population, creating a healthier workplace and workforce, which will also protect and enhance your reputation as a good employer
provide early intervention to help prevent staff being absent for health-related reasons, and improved opportunities for people to recover from illness while at work
provide critical support to the process of effective absence management and increase the number of staff returning to work earlier
Occupational health covers both physical and psychological wellbeing
Forward-thinking employers are realising that an employee’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Research has found that
66% of employees want more wellbeing support from their employer. And Deloitte has reported that those who invest in mental health (on average) return £5 for every £1 spent.
Providing mental health support goes beyond just benefits to the business – it’s also an employer’s legal responsibility. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, it’s your responsibility to ensure the
health, safety and wellbeing of your team. Long gone are the days where this only applies to physical health and safety; psychological health and safety is just as important.
Occupational health recognises this and provides a wide range of services to help employers spot and prevent work-related mental and physical ill health.
Fulfilling employer responsibilities
Every employer must provide a safe workplace and assess risk at work. There is a whole range of health, safety and welfare legislation that feeds into this – such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992.
Lots of employers think that they meet their legal requirements by having a safety policy and a health and safety officer. But there’s much more that should be done.
As an employer, you’re required by law to prevent physical and mental ill health in your workers that may occur as a result of your business activities. Your risk assessment will help you decide the actions you need to take to do this.
It’s important to remember that your people are the most important asset your business has. They’re essential to your overall productivity and profitability. By putting in place suitable occupational health services, you can keep your staff safe, well and in work, and effectively manage any risks that are likely to cause work-related ill health or sickness-related absence.
In this way, you can also reduce the risk of a claim of unfair dismissal or unlawful discrimination from an employee being dismissed or suffering some sort of detriment – such as a lack of promotion or training opportunities – due to ill health.
Why should I use an external occupational health provider?
Many small- to medium-sized enterprises don’t have the size of workforce, or sufficient facilities and resources, to justify a dedicated in-house occupational health team. That’s why many smaller employers will use external occupational health providers as and when they need them to support their staff and to carry out medicals and other occupational health assessments.
How can occupational health services help your business?
There are two main aims of occupational health services: to help prevent work-related injury and illness, and to help those who have suffered injury or illness to return to, or remain in, work.
In either case, occupational health services can be specifically tailored to meet the needs of your business, ensuring that you remove or minimise any health risks arising within the workplace, and helping you to improve and maintain a healthy workforce for the mutual benefit of both you and your staff.
Occupational health services could be used for any or all of the following:
Encourage safe working practices – by carrying out occupational health risk assessments to identify hazards and high-risk groups at work
Advise on work-related accidents or illnesses – and help you introduce steps to remove or minimise the risk of further incidents and absences, or avoid symptoms getting worse
Improve the ways employees work – by utilising ergonomics and other methods to prevent work-related injury or illness
Promote the overall emotional wellbeing of employees – by providing advice and counselling around non-health-related problems
Support health promotion within the workplace – by providing lifestyle and wellbeing services, as well as educational programmes, to increase productivity and staff retention
Support the management of disability in the workplace – providing you with advice and guidance around making reasonable adjustments for interviewing new applicants, or making provision for new recruits and existing employees suffering from a disability.
Better manage sickness absence – providing specialised fitness for work assessments and giving you advice and guidance around what adjustments can be made to an employee’s working conditions following short- or long-term injury or illness.
Provide screening and health surveillance services – to monitor the overall health of employees and help prevent injury or illness; including vision and hearing testing, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular assessment, lung function testing, and alcohol and drug screening.
Provide safety critical medicals for businesses where an employee’s job may involve high-risk tasks – such as working at height or working in confined spaces, where the employee would need to be both physically and mentally fit to allow them to safely fulfil their role
Provide emergency response and onsite care – with the provision and training of first aiders.
How can ELAS Occupational Health help?
Our Occupational Health experts can be on hand with specialist advice that will help protect, maintain and support your people with any health issues in the workplace. As one of the leading occupational health providers in the UK, we specialise in providing occupational health services to businesses across the country. For over 30 years, we’ve been catering for businesses of all shapes and sizes – from small organisations to some of the largest in the UK
Our experts can work with you and your employees to assess any potential health risks, implement safe working practices, support with absence management, and conduct specialist medical assessments and questionnaires where required.
Dependent on the service required, we can complete this virtually, at your site, or at one of our clinics located across the UK.
Our mobile medical units make it easy for us to come to your site wherever you’re located to complete assessments, minimising disruption to your business and providing a time- and cost-effective service.
Similarly, remote sessions can be great for the convenience of employees, saving them time and making the service more accessible, while it’s also great for organisations as a cost-effective and consistent way of benefiting from occupational health support no matter where you and your team are located.
Our team is of occupational health physicians and nurses is led by our Chief Medical Officer, so you can trust that our service and knowledge is always of the highest quality.
Simply fill out the form on this page to discuss your business’ occupational health needs with our team today!