The role of occupational health

Reading Time: 5 minutes
by Joy Monaghan
Published 29/04/2022

What is occupational health?

Many people aren’t aware of all the aspects that occupational health encompasses and what it can deliver. The main purpose of occupational health is to promote and maintain health and wellbeing at work, making sure there’s a positive relationship between your workplace and your overall health. 

This could be simply ensuring optimal health and safety procedures are in place, through to being given access to health and lifestyle advice via specialist occupational health practitioners. 

It can be a very rewarding and worthwhile career to pursue, and a valuable asset to organisations looking to improve the health and morale of employees.

Why occupational health is important

Occupational health covers how work can affect your health, as well as how your health can affect your work. The primary goal is to ensure workers aren’t adversely impacted by their work and are medically fit to carry it out safely. 

Research shows that organisations who recognise the importance of, and invest in their employees’ health, experience a range of benefits as a result - both for the business and the employee. A positive focus on occupational health can help to develop a strong and vibrant workplace culture, contributing to the overall success of an organisation.  

Healthy workers are more motivated and productive, resulting in less absenteeism and reduced staff turnover, benefitting the business both culturally and financially. There is also evidence to suggest that organisations with a great employee wellbeing programme could lead to an increase in their stock market value.1 

Being at work is also known to be better for your health and wellbeing overall than being out of work, with those in a healthy and safe working environment tending to live longer. 

Another benefit to having access to an occupational health service is the direct support available to workers who fall ill or suffer from a work-related injury. It gives employees a viable source from which to seek independent advice and discuss any concerns about medical problems or difficulties faced at work.

How organisations access occupational health services

Occupational health (OH) services are delivered by a team of skilled specialists and can be provided via an in-house service or outsourced to an Occupational Health Service Provider (OHSP). Large organisations tend to have an in-house OH department and will employ their own OH professionals. Whereas smaller organisations are more inclined to use an OHSP. 

An OHSP usually includes a wide range of professionals from different disciplines such as doctors and nurses with a specialist qualification in occupational medicine, technicians, physiotherapists, psychologists and more. The right discipline and service will be selected based on the needs of the organisation. 

When deciding whether to employ an in-house service or outsource to an OHSP, employers need to consider the size of the business, nature of the work and associated costs, as well as the location of the business.  

Although accreditation isn’t mandatory, there is a set of standards known as Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS)2 which aim to raise the professional level of an OH service.  It’s a reassurance to organisations that the OH service is committed to quality and has the capability to deliver to high standards. Both in-house occupational health professionals and OHSPs can be SEQOHS accredited.

Confidentiality and consent

It’s essential for patients who are referred to an occupational health professional to be completely clear about the purpose of their visit and to understand what will be reported back.

All occupational health professionals work in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 ensuring that all personal information is treated respectfully and sensitively. Records must be kept for a minimum of 40 years, and personal information should only be shared outside of the occupational health team if informed consent is given (unless there is a risk of serious harm and in accordance with the law). 

An occupational health professional can provide organisations with information on how fit an individual is for work or flag any concerns that might apply.

Accredited occupational health training

At Amplivox, we offer several competency and refresher courses within occupational audiometry, spirometry, and vision testing. These courses are accredited by a UK professional and educational body which supports good practice.

Each course offers delegates a certain number of CPD points under the accredited programme. They cover all levels from experienced occupational health and primary care professionals, through to those with little or no experience who require more comprehensive tuition.

Courses consist of both theoretical and practical sessions, providing delegates with a broad understanding of the ‘why’ along with how to apply their learnings in practice. We’ve worked hard to create courses that are interactive to improve knowledge retention and ensure delegates have a great learning experience, balancing informative and educational, with practical and enjoyable.

For more information on any of our occupational health training courses please visit our webpage, or contact our customer support team on +44 (0)1865 880 846, or solutions@amplivox.com.

 

References

1Is There a Link Between Stock Market Price Growth and Having a Great Employee Wellness Program? Maybe https://journals.lww.com/joem/Fulltext/2016/01000/Is_There_a_Link_Between_Stock_Market_Price_Growth.22.aspx

2SEQOHS (Safe, Effective, Quality Occupational Health Service) 
https://www.seqohs.org/ 

3Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - Occupational Health
https://www.hse.gov.uk/health-surveillance/occupational-health/index.htm 

4The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) - What is occupational health (OH)?
https://www.som.org.uk/what-occupational-health 

5World Health Organisation (WHO) - Occupational Health
https://www.who.int/health-topics/occupational-health