Dr Tok Hussain (Consultant Occupational Physician) from Healthwork Ltd writes a guest blog for us this week discussing the benefits of Occupational Health to employers.
Occupational health (OH) is a service that many employers value in looking after their employees as well as managing health related and corporate risk. Occupational health is a specialist branch of medicine concerned with the effects of work on health and health on work. So, for example, an occupational health nurse or doctor might be carrying out hearing tests to ensure workers don’t develop deafness as a result of their work. The nurse or doctor might also be seeing someone who has had a heart attack or is suffering with anxiety and then advising about how that worker can safely return to work. Occupational health focuses on providing the best possible advice in relation to health and work.
Occupational Health focuses on:
- maximising people’s opportunities to benefit from healthy and rewarding work while not putting themselves or others at risk of harm;
- the elimination of preventable illness caused or aggravated by work;
- advising about workplace health matters;
- helping to rehabilitate those who have suffered injury or sickness back into work;
- helping support those who because of health are no longer able to work (and may therefore have to access pension benefits)
Occupational health professionals include specially trained nurses, doctors, consultant occupational physicians, counsellors physiotherapists and technicians. They have a special understanding of the workplace and the work people do. This allows them to advise workers and their employers about fitness to work, in a much better manner than GPs would be able to do.
In the words of Dr Tok Hussain, Consultant Occupational Physician at the Manchester based company Healthwork (a full-service occupational health provider)
“There is now substantial evidence of the benefits of work on long term health so helping workers return to work after sickness absence (if this is possible) is vital for the individual and is usually very cost-effective for their employer. Good health is good business and a healthy workforce is a productive and profitable one.”
Sadly, only half the UK workforce has access to specialist occupational health advice.
Why is Occupational Health important for businesses?
Having access to occupational health professionals isn’t just good for individuals and businesses; it’s good for us as a society. Dr Hussain goes on to say that:
“We know the UK faces some fundamental challenges to a sustainable healthcare and welfare system. The financial pressure on the NHS, benefits and pensions budgets is unprecedented. We have an ageing population and a growing crisis with obesity, diabetes and other long-term health conditions. The majority of adults spend a significant amount of time in work. With future increases to state pension age they will work for longer than previous generations. This presents an opportunity to influence people’s health for the better by protecting and improving their health at work.”
How can Occupational Health help in the COVID19 crisis?
In relation to the current COVID-19 crisis, occupational health has become vital to many businesses and Dr Hussain explains that:
“We have over recent months worked with many public and private sector organisations to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included supporting our amazing NHS employees as well as other key workers such as firefighters, police officers, and our food manufacturing and distribution sector customers. The involvement of high quality occupational services such as Healthwork from an Occupational Health and risk management perspective has been critical in supporting the return of professional sport. We have advised and supported organisations such as the Premier League, England and Wales Cricket Board, Premier League clubs and a number of County Cricket clubs including Lancashire County Cricket club.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Healthwork has brought their very specific occupational health expertise and skills to many businesses.
What does Healthwork Ltd focus specifically on?
- Assessing workers individual vulnerability to the infection and advising employees and employers of the risk to individuals
- Helping employers develop strategies to create COVID-19 Bio-safe secure work places. They do this by helping with risk assessments and performing workplace audits and Bio-safe ‘bubbles’
- Advising employers and employees about government and industry specific guidelines in relation to risk management, risk mitigation and risk control
- Supporting employers with testing regimes and arranging testing for coronavirus
- Case managing employees with symptoms of COVID-19 back to work safely
- Supporting the psychological health of employees at work, those working from home and those who have been on furlough leave
- Supporting home workers with home based DSE assessments
Investing in OH in the workplace is essential if we want to support your workforce and improve the health of the UK workforce, who are about half of the UK population. Many organisations understand this and are leading the way by investing in occupational health.
Dr Tok Hussain Consultant Occupational Health Physician is an accredited specialist and Consultant in Occupational Medicine. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Tok is currently Honorary Assistant Editor of the Occupational Medicine journal and until recently Chief Examiner for the MFOM examination of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.