A quick guide to Occupational Health

Occupational Health Physicians are doctors- let’s just get that out of the way.

The fact that I have to say that may just be me showing my naivety, however, I remember when I was first introduced to the idea of occupational health I cynically thought that their link to the workplace would somehow mean that they get an easier ride to their qualifications.

Occupational Health Doctors and Physicians have their own particular aims and objectives tied to their speciality domain, but they are still much more qualified and experienced than your local GP to diagnose and advise on a multitude of problems – more so than you (and certainly, I) may have first given them credit for!

The goals, or objectives, of an Occupational Health professional, could be summarised as:

  • Identify and prevent work-related illnesses.
  • Provide emergency response to incidents on site.
  • To proactively work towards improving the health of a workforce.
  • And advise of the fitness of employees to do their jobs.

To this end, occupational Health professionals may be hired individually by a company, they may be part of a consultancy that work with many different businesses, or they may be self-employed individuals. Though they will all be expected to have extensive knowledge, you may find that the best Occupational Health doctor for your business will be someone that has specific experience of your industry and its workplace and hazards.

As a branch of medicine that heavily deals with the prevention of job-related injuries and illnesses, as well as the treatment, Occupational Health physicians will often work closely with Health & Safety departments. The scope of Occupational Health goes much further, however. Not only can Occupation Health Physicians provide a high standard of medical care on site, but they also have the knowledge to be able to identify and prevent many illnesses that do not relate to simple cause and effect, or crucially that may be specific to individuals.

An Occupational Health physician focuses on the relationship between the patient and their workplace to ensure that both employers and employees can work together successfully. It is important to bear in mind that an Occupational Health practitioner is not on the side of the employee or the employer, but acts as much as possible as an objective specialist, assessing and advising on what is best for both parties in relation to a person’s health and work.

A company is not responsible for the health of its employees in general but there is a duty of care required of them to ensure that they are not made ill by their work. As company success and employee health are not always synonymous with each other there is often a fine-tuning point when it comes to finding the perfect balance between an employer’s wishes and the employee’s needs. As such, Occupation Health professionals advise companies and individuals on how to move forward successfully in the workplace, without sacrificing anyone’s health.

Final thought

As we all know trying to get a GP appointment is more difficult than getting an audience with the pope in some areas of the country.  Every time an employee is off sick in a small business it really just hit them hard so this could be an alternative resource that although would have a monetary value might help get your team back to work quicker.

If you would like to know more or have a chat about sickness absence in your work please then please contact me on 02382 025160 or email [email protected]



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