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The benefits of Occupational Health
Published on 10 May 2017 by Sarah Jones, Occupational Health Lead, updated on 10 May 2017
Occupational health optimises the physical and mental well being of employees. This is achieved by identifying hazards, minimising the impact of hazards and supporting individuals to achieve their full potential at work. Occupational health has changed considerably since the development of the Factory Acts in the early 1800’s. The series of UK laws sought to address the welfare of workers and place restrictions on working hours. It has evolved into a 21st century comprehensive service which supports the productivity, operations, and achievements of both individual employees and their organisations.
Occupational health examines how work effects an individual’s health, and how the individual’s health effects their work. Getting back to work after long term sick leave is important for continued recovery and wellbeing. Equally important is preventative health interventions and fostering an open culture within organisations to support employees in work, reduce sickness absence, promote wellbeing, and demonstrate investment in people.
Proactive engagement with those on sick leave can assist with reducing sickness absence expenditure. It is estimated that average sickness absence costs approximately £522 per employee, per year. Forward-facing employers recognise the value of managing individuals just as robustly as they manage assets, capital resources and finances. The average cost of employing a replacement member of staff can reach £30,614. This equates to £4.13bn per year! In order to reduce this cost, Unum - the UKs leading employee benefit provider - suggests organisations should look at ways to retain and value their existing employees. One way is through the provision of an occupational health service.
Occupational health doesn’t have to cost the earth. We will work with you to identify the areas of your business where it can add the most value. If you are considering engaging with occupational healthcare it may be useful to consider the following points:
Your sickness absence data; what does it tell you? Do you have frequent short term absences less than four weeks in duration or long term absences? What is the impact of this on the business?
How do you manage new starters? Do you perform any pre-placement workplace screening? If not you could be inheriting a number of issues which need addressing before the individual joins your organisation in order to ensure compliancy with the Equality Act.
Who does your workstation assessments? Are you confident that you are complying with the regulations? If not, occupational health can guide you through in-house assessment, and if issues are identified, progression to an occupational health ergonomic assessment.
Are you meeting all the requirements under legislation and approved code of practices for your work activities? For example, compliance with the Control of Vibration regulations?
Top 10 benefits to engaging with occupational health:
1) To support your organisation’s values and goals through ensuring your workforce are performing to their personal best.
2) To reduce sickness absence expenditure through a range of specialist occupational health services.
3) To reduce long term sickness absence by proactively assessing, through occupational screening, employees who have been absent for greater than two weeks, thereby supporting the individual’s recovery and rehabilitation.
4) Prevent work related ill health and injury, therefore mitigating litigation claims.
5) Ensure legal compliance and concordance with best practice.
6) Promote an open culture regarding mental ill health.
7) Proactively work with your organisation to identify stress and develop operationally realistic solutions to address this.
8) Optimisation of your work areas to ensure good ergonomic use:
- Minimising musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain.
9) Demonstrate to prospective clients and employees that you are committed to health and wellbeing:
- This may help your ‘Response to Tender’ applications.
10) Retention of staff and reduced recruiting costs.
Case Study: Long Term Sickness Absence
Mr X had been on long term sick leave for 26 months. The organisation sought an assessment for Mr X focused on his current ill health, causation of this illness and whether he could ever return to work.
An occupational consultant met with Mr X at his home, as he was unable to travel. Mr X stated he had anxiety and depression but had not accessed any psychological therapies and had minimal contact with his GP. Mr X stated he wanted to return to work but felt isolated from the workplace and indeed his manager.
The occupational clinic wrote to Mr X’s GP advising them of the current difficulties and stating a review may be beneficial. It also encouraged Mr X to access psychological therapies and provided details for this in his area and recommended a case management review with Mr X and his line manager represent.
Outcome: Mr X accessed psychological therapies and returned to work 6 weeks after the initial occupational health consultation. The organisation stated that this was a positive process and they were very pleased to have Mr X back at work. Through working with occupational health, the line manager stated they had gained insight into Mr X’s condition and mechanisms to support him.
At One Stop Doctors, we believe healthy employees lead to healthy, successful businesses. In order to achieve your business objectives, One Stop Doctors provides bespoke Occupational Health Services to address your key business health needs. Please give Sarah Jones a call today to discuss your needs on 01442 331937.