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Does my business need occupational health?

In our latest blog, Insight Workplace Health answers a question we are frequently asked: does my business need occupational health?

What is Occupational Health?

Occupational health is a branch of medicine that deals with the effects of work on health

and vice versa. It looks at the relationship between health and work and aims to help employers to manage these issues as fairly and effectively as possible. It aims to promote good health and wellbeing and puts measures in place to effectively manage ill health involving employees throughout the process.

What do I need to do as an employer?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 stipulates that the minimum you must do as an employer is: to identify the hazards within your business which could potentially cause illness or injury and establish the likelihood of someone being harmed as a result of this and how seriously they could be harmed (risk assessment).

You are also required by law to have a policy implemented for managing health and safety, this outlines your overall approach to health and safety and how employers will manage it within their businesses, it should specify who is responsible for each different element. The policy must be in writing if you have five or more employees.

Health and Safety Legislation

Once you've completed the risk assessment, you are required to take action to remove the hazard, if you cannot eliminate the hazard, then you must reduce the risk it poses.

In health and safety legislation, there are things you must do to ensure that work does not have a negative impact on your workers' health and that they are medically fit to carry out their duties in a safe manner.

This includes:

• using health or medical surveillance when required

• making sure workers are medically fit to carry out their role (standards may be industry dependant)

• evaluating your risk assessment when a worker returns to work after sickness absence or declares a health condition

Health Surveillance

As an employer you are legally obliged to ensure that you protect your workers from experiencing ill health because of their work.

Health Surveillance is a legal obligation where your workers are still exposed to health risks even after control measures have been implemented and is a programme of recurring health assessments which identify ill health following exposure to health risks at work.

Health surveillance will be required if your employees are at risk from:

  • noise or vibration

  • solvents, dusts, fumes, biological agents, and other hazardous substances

  • asbestos, lead, or work in compressed air

  • ionising radiation

Control measures may not always be reliable, so health surveillance can make sure any ill health effects are detected early.

Health surveillance in these circumstances is statutory and workers cannot opt out under:

  • The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

  • The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

Not sure what level of occupational health support your business requires? Embarking on an Insight Workplace Health discovery audit will help establish that. We will visit your premises and conduct an analysis of your current occupational health needs and the health risks associated with your business, establishing the level of occupational health support required along with identifying any employees with special considerations.

Enquire online or call us on 01792 321010 to find out more!

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