What is Occupational Health?
Business owners and employees may feel a bit worried when they hear the term ‘occupational health’. For employers it might bring to mind fears of their business being reprimanded for its health and safety standards, or an employee might worry that they will be fired for health issues that they can’t do anything about. Luckily, this isn’t the reality.
Occupational health services are there to help both businesses and their staff create a productive and safe working environment. By enlisting the services of occupational health professionals, your business will become a more secure and enjoyable place to work. This article explains the details of occupational health, so that you can understand all the benefits and be well-informed when you enlist the help of an occupational health provider.
Understanding What Occupational Health Is.
Occupational health is a type of health care that focuses on the safety and health of employees in the workplace. There are multiple disciplines in the occupational health field – such as occupational therapy and occupational medicine – and they offer a variety of services which aim to improve employee well-being and ensure they are properly suited for their work.
Occupational health services are necessary because employers are required to protect the health of their employees, and make sure that their work is not negatively impacting their physical or mental health. Services such as occupational health assessments can assist employers with checking that their workplace meets regulations, and occupational health screenings can make sure employees aren’t carrying out work which is causing harm to them or others.
Common Work-Related Health Issues:
There are countless health issues which can be caused in the workplace, but the most common ones are:
- Hearing loss
- Musculoskeletal issues
- Circulatory diseases
- Respiratory diseases
- Stress-related disorders
- Communicable diseases
- Injuries caused by accidents
Why Are Occupational Health Services Important?
The purpose of occupational health is to prevent people from getting injuries or diseases that are caused by their work. Millions of people across the UK contract work-related illnesses every year, and if employers simply called on the services of occupational health professionals, many of these could be avoided.
Employers need technical health advice from experts in order to create a truly safe workplace, and employees need a professional to check whether they have special requirements which must be met in order to protect them while working. Even though you may believe your workplace is safe and secure, you won’t know for sure until you get a qualified, experienced assessment. No matter what industry you’re in, there will be safety risks which need to be addressed – whether that is in the service industry, construction or manufacturing. Occupational health is important for ensuring employees are safe and protected in every industry, and all businesses should invest in this invaluable service.
Individual health assessments are definitely the most important occupational health service. The purpose of these health checks is for the occupational health expert to see whether your employees have been negatively impacted by their work, and they will also find out if your employees have any preexisting health conditions that you need to cater for. These assessments can also be used to check whether prospective employees are fit for the role, or to see if an existing employee is still suitable after a leave of absence.
The aim of a workplace assessment is to help employers create the optimum work environment for their staff. An expert will analyse the workplace and then draw up a report which advises the employer on what needs to be done – this could be anything from using more PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), to creating ergonomic workstations.
Forklifts are heavy machinery, and therefore forklift operators need to have a certain level of fitness and health to be able to work them safely. Occupational health professionals can carry out medical assessments to ensure forklift operators are well-equipped to operate the machinery without risk. It’s recommended that forklift medicals are completed before an operator is employed, and then once every 5 years to ensure they remain at the correct level of health.
Working at night is difficult and draining, and it can negatively impact an employee’s health if carried out long-term – this is why night workers are entitled to health assessments. A night worker is defined as someone who works for three hours or more between 11pm and 6am. Working at this time can worsen existing conditions like epilepsy or diabetes, and can significantly affect someone’s mental health. An occupational health professional will check your night worker’s health and ensure they are not being negatively affected.
How Can Occupational Health Benefit Your Business?
Many of the health issues workers suffer from are easily avoidable – such as musculoskeletal strain or heightened stress – and they can cause staff to take multiple sick days or experience lowered productivity. By ensuring your workers are well looked after, and that your workplace is a safe and secure location to work in, you will improve the overall productivity of your workforce.
When employees feel cared about, and they don’t have to deal with painful injuries or illnesses, they will work harder and create better results. Also, you will retain more employees, because you will build loyalty and make them feel comfortable in your workplace. Paying for workers’ compensation and the results of injuries can be expensive, so another benefit is that you’re avoiding these costs by stopping the situation from occurring in the first place.
Choosing An Occupational Health Provider
When it comes to choosing a company to carry out these occupational health services for your business, you will need to pick one that is reliable and experienced to ensure your business will receive expert assessments and assistance.
Here at Healthier Workforce, we have a highly qualified national network of occupational health professionals who can turn your business into a safe and productive workplace. We have over 10 years of industry experience, and our partners are always Constructing Better Health (CBH) registered and Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS) accredited. If you would like to learn more about us or our occupational health services, contact our friendly team today.