Occupational health seeks to promote and maintain the health and well-being of employees. It is a branch of medicine that specialises in the relationship between work and health. Occupational health practitioners provide advice to both employee and employer. Occupational health’s main objectives are:
- To identify and help prevent illness and injury caused by work (early intervention)
- To advise on the fitness of an employee to do their job
- To provide emergency response on site
- To improve and maintain the health of the workforce to the mutual benefit of both employee and employer.
An occupational health professional can:-
- Reduce sickness absence.
- Provide screening and surveillance services when early stages of ill health arise. They can develop solutions to keep employees with health issues at work.
- Give independent and professional diagnosis, prognosis and advice on employees unable to work due to long-term or short-term intermittent health problems.
When should an organisation use an occupational health practitioner?
- Before the start of employment to ensure that the individual is fit for their role.
- Every two to three years to ensure that the individual is still fit to do their role
- At specific periods of time if the person works in a particular type of environment, e.g. in extreme temperatures.
What questions can the organisation ask? Some examples are:-
- Is this person fit to do their job?
- How soon can this person return to work?
- Upon their return, based on their essential tasks and responsibilities, are there any tasks which they are advised to perform?
- What reasonable adjustments need to be made upon the individual’s return to work?
Occupational health is important to a business of any size. Preventing and removing health risks from the workplace helps the business maintain a healthy workforce.
Ms Jolene King, Principal Consultant of 246 King Consulting, has over 15 years business management and HR international experience gained in the UK, USA and Barbados. 246 King Consulting offers services to medium and large organisations in absence management, employee health and well-being and occupational health referrals.