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Published on June 21st, 2022 | by Matthew Albutt
This week, (19th – 24th June 2022) is Occupational Health Awareness Week; an entire week dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of occupational health. So, what is occupational health? It helps to support employers to monitor and maintain their employees’ health, whilst also encouraging employees to look after their own health. With benefits for both parties, this is why occupational health is so important in the working industry.
The importance of carrying out health surveillance is to detect any ill-health effects at an early stage from potential exposure to hazardous substances so employers can introduce better control measures and prevent these problems from worsening.
It’s not just about health surveillance. which is a post-job screening. It’s also important to carry out full ‘fit for work’ medicals. These protect employees at work by ensuring they can perform their specific job role or tasks safely without causing themselves or others harm in the working environment, and they are in line with government guidelines and regulations.
Therefore, pre-employment screening, such as a full ‘fit for work’, can be so important to get a baseline of employee’s health when they primarily start at a company, catching any adverse effects from a previous company but also a general idea of the employee’s overall health.
Post-employment can be just as important a time to have screening records of your employee’s health; for example showing that the employee had no profound health issues when leaving a company and starting at a new one. This not only gives you and the employee peace of mind when leaving, but if the ex-employee, unfortunately, develops a condition and decides to sue the company for breach of health and safety regulations you have the records on hand. Potentially saving the business tens of thousands of pounds.
According to The Society of Occupational Medicine, about 1.7 million UK workers suffered from a work related illness in 2021. 850,000 of these were new conditions that started during the year. Pre-pandemic data for 2018-19 estimated the annual cost to the UK at £5.6 billion for injuries and £10.6 billion for new cases of illness. This is estimated to total 25.9 million working days lost due to work-related illness and 4.5 million days due to workplace injury.
Isabelle Mason, Occupational Health Technician here at Agility Risk and Compliance explains what she would do during a visit to your business: “A visit can vary depending on the company and the requirements, however generally I would conduct various health surveillance assessments, full ‘fit for work’ medicals, drug and alcohol screening and face fit tests. These include various types of tests along with medical questionnaires.
For example, health surveillance entails audiology, spirometry, HAVS (hand-arm vibration syndrome) and dermatology assessments. Full ‘fit for work’ medicals can entail health surveillance testing but with inclusions such as vision, urinalysis, blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, musculoskeletal assessment, and Q-risk Assessment.”
As every business and industry hires a workforce they need to protect, an occupational health visit is important for any industry from office work and display screen equipment assessments to reduce any musculoskeletal issues, to high-risk environments such as industrial or construction where hazardous materials, loud equipment or equipment that vibrates are used.
As mentioned above, the risk factors vary depending on industry, but this is where we can help you establish what is needed from a regulation standpoint within your business. We can get to know what you do as a company and advise from there. Simply give a member of the team a call on 01527 571 611 or visit our occupational health section on the website here for more information.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a health and safety audit as: “A collection of independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of...
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