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Occupational Health Assessments

If someone becomes ill or their health is at risk, it’s a good idea to get some advice for your business. Majority of the time, your managers can’t be expected to know what to do in most circumstance.

Occupational health assessments at Perpetual Health Centre are confidentially and professionally carried out. And, with the employee’s consent, we’ll share our management advice report with you and your employee so you’re equally aware of the circumstances.

Your report may cover:

  • whether your employee is able to continue in their role 

  • guidance on a return-to-work programme 

  • whether any underlying medical conditions have played a part 

  • whether the Equality Act 2010 applies to any decisions you take 

  • what reasonable adjustments you could make to support your employees

If your employee’s case is complex, our experienced occupational health clinicians can facilitate detailed discussions to help your business, manager and employee find solutions. This might include time frames for action and managed ‘case conferencing’ discussions between all parties – if needed
 

What is occupational health? 
 

Occupational Health  can simple be explained in this two categories for easy of understanding:

  • Occupational – means something that relates to a person’s job or profession.

  • Health – “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) put a definition of occupational health together in 1950. It was defined as:

“The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social wellbeing of workers in all occupations by preventing departures of health, controlling risk and the adaption of work to people, and people to their jobs”.

This definition was updated in 1995 by the WHO and ILO during a committee on occupational health.

It included three objectives:

  • The maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity.

  • The improvement of the working environment and work to become conducive to health and safety.

  • The development of the work organisation and working cultures in the direction which supports health and safety at work, and in doing so promotes a positive social culture and smooth operation and may enhance productivity of the undertaking.

The above definition of occupational health encompasses many aspects and emphasises employee wellbeing. It looks at how a person’s work affects their health and how their health affects their work. It focuses is on keeping employees well at work, both physically and mentally.
 

What is an occupational health assessment?
 

An occupational health assessment is a medical examination performed on employees and is carried out by a qualified Health professional.

The main purpose of an occupational health assessment is to assess an employee’s health in relation to their work. The occupational health professional then gives advice and makes recommendations to the employer on the adjustments needed to ensure the employee’s working environment is safe and healthy.

The goal of occupational health assessments is to prevent work-related ill health. They can also be used to determine an employee’s fitness to work and can identify whether any pre-existing health conditions can increase the risks of ill health.

What are the different types of occupational health assessments?

There are many different types of occupational health assessment. The occupational health assessments needed will depend on an employee’s job role, the tasks, the hazards they are exposed to, and any existing health issues. Employers should ensure that they use the findings of their risk assessments to help them determine the type of assessments required.
 

Pre-employment assessments
 

These type of assessments are also known as pre-placement health assessments, screening or checks. They are only usually carried out after an offer of employment has been made and accepted and should be completed before an employee starts their job.

Whether the individual will be appointed to the role will depend on a satisfactory assessment. However, employers must be careful not to discriminate against employees when carrying out these assessments. If an employer uses the results to prevent someone with a disability from getting the role and reasonable adjustments can be made, this may be unlawful.

That is why many organisations will not use pre-employment assessments until a job offer has been made. However, some roles will require assessments to be completed before a job offer due to the area of work, risks and the fitness standards required, e.g., train drivers and heavy goods vehicle drivers.
 

Pre-employment assessments typically consist of one, or both, of the following:
 

  • Questionnaires – the prospective employee completes a questionnaire to determine if there are any problems and whether further assessment is required.

  • Medical examinations and tests – if the questionnaire have identified an issue that requires further investigation, the employee may be asked to undergo a medical examination and tests.

The level of pre-employment assessment required will depend on the nature of the job. Some specific activities legally require medical examinations to be completed.  Certain roles will also require testing due to legal requirements, e.g. eye tests for commercial drivers.

Pre-employment assessments should never be used to exclude an individual from a role.

The purpose of these assessments is to:

  • Establish baseline health records for comparisons, e.g. vibration or hearing tests before working with vibrating tools or in a noisy environment.

  • Risk assess how the job may affect their health and identify additional precautions.

  • Ensure that they are medically suited and fit to do the duties and responsibilities required of the job.

  • Determine whether reasonable adjustments can be made to help them in their role.
     

Fitness for work assessments
 

Fitness for work assessments/examinations are also known as fit for role health checks. These are similar to pre-employment assessments. However, the difference is that employees are assessed periodically throughout their working life. Some fitness for work assessments are legally requirement for particular roles, e.g. commercial pilots, train drivers, divers, and heavy goods vehicle drivers.

The purpose of this type of assessment is to determine whether an employee is medically fit to perform their tasks effectively and safely. If they are unfit, they can put themselves and others at risk of injury and ill health.

This type of assessment may be required due to an individual having an existing health condition that could:

  • Prevent or hinder them from doing the job effectively, e.g. if they have a musculoskeletal disorder that will result in them struggling to do any manual handling activities.

  • Make particular tasks and work environments unsafe for them and others, e.g. if they are prone to seizures and their role is safety-critical, such as operating dangerous vehicles or machinery.

  • Be made worse by the work, e.g. if they have asthma and the job requires them to work with isocyanates.

  • Pose a risk to others in the community, e.g. if they have infections that could be transmitted via food, and they are a food handler.

Some examples of the roles that would require a fitness for work assessment are:

  • Work at height.

  • Confined space work.

  • Work in temperature extremes.

  • Diving operations.

  • Lone working.

  • Driving class - heavy goods vehicles.

  • Piloting commercial aircraft.

  • Crane operation.

  • Forklift truck operation.

  • Night shift work.

These roles require a higher degree of physical and/or mental capability and fitness. For example, if there is an emergency in a confined space, an employee must be capable of quickly responding. Some are also safety-critical, which means that there could be serious consequences if the employee falls ill whilst doing their job.

Fitness for work assessments can also be used:

  • To determine whether an employee’s existing ill health issues could affect their performance and safety.

  • After an incident where existing ill health issues, such as alcohol or drug misuse, are suspected to be the cause.

  • To assess whether an employee is fit to return to work following a prolonged period of sickness absence, e.g. ill health or an injury.
     

Return to work and sickness absence management
 

Occupational health assessments can also be used when an employee has been absent from work due to sickness, particularly after a long-term absence. A referral can be made to an occupational health provider who assesses the employee and provides a report to the employer. This type of assessment can also tie in with fitness for work assessments.

The purpose of the assessment is to help the employer understand what the employee needs to return to work and to do the job effectively and safely. It also aims to address any issues that can result in any further sickness absences. The assessment may recommend a phased return to work, further referrals, adjustments (i.e. to their workstation) or more time away from work.
 

Health and medical surveillance
 

Health surveillance is another example of an occupational health assessment, which covers many different types of checks. According to the HSE, health surveillance is “a system of ongoing health checks”.

It monitors the health of employees exposed to specific health risks, such as:

  • Noise or vibration.

  • Ionising radiation.

  • Hazardous substances, e.g. solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health.

There are numerous reasons why health surveillance is important. It allows ill health effects to be detected early, so further controls can be implemented to prevent them from worsening. It also improves on risk assessments and involves employees in decisions regarding their work and impacts on their health.

Employers also have a legal duty to implement a health surveillance programme if their employees are exposed to certain health risks. 

Health surveillance can involve questionnaires, examinations and tests. Some examples of the assessments carried out by an occupational health provider include:

  • Lung function tests (spirometry) – to check for lung function.

  • Hearing tests (audiometry) – to check for hearing loss.

  • Skin checks – to check for dermatitis.

  • Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) checks – to check for vibration-related health conditions.
     

Other types of assessments
 

There are many other types of occupational health assessments which cover health issues and risks, such as:

  • Mental health and stress assessments.

  • Display screen equipment (DSE) and ergonomic workstation assessments.

  • Musculoskeletal assessments.

  • Visual and eye tests.

  • Workplace wellbeing checks.

  • Health and lifestyle checks.

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Service Cost: From $485 (cost can vary depending on complexity of assessment)

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