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Management of Occupational Health Services
How do I go about setting up an occupational health system?
Do a risk assessment and put in place the controls needed to remove or reduce the risks to health. If, after doing this, there are still any dangers to workers’ health, you may need to carry out health surveillance to ensure you comply with the law and protect your workers.
You should contact a competent occupational provider and discuss the types of services you think you will need. You can find them through an internet search engine, Department of Health webpages or your local NHS Trust, contacting Safe and Healthy Working (0800 0192211) or by getting in touch with Constructing Better Health (www.cbhscheme.com), who have a list of accredited providers. It may be helpful to find a provider based on recommendation; either through your trade association, insurer or other industry contacts. An Occupational health provider should be able to advise you.
So what should I expect from occupational health provision?
As the employer it is your role and legal duty to ensure the health of your workforce in relation to any risk of or from exposure they encounter at work. A competent occupational health service provider will be able to help you prioritise and make decisions.
- share your risk assessments with your occupational health provider
- make sure they observe the workers and the work they do by giving them time to do this
- come up with a list together under red ( must dos) , amber ( good practice) and green ( eg lifestyle issues not legally required or necessarily work related)
- set up front your expectations from the service being provided
- feedback of results
- roles and responsibilities
- agree a timescale for review.
Do I always need a doctor or nurse to undertake occupational health surveillance for me?
No! In many cases (where there is no requirement for statutory medical surveillance) there are things you can do to keep costs down by putting a trained, responsible person in charge of observing workers for early signs of ill health. You will still need to call on appropriately qualified (competent) professionals to deal with any ill health found. If you have a large workforce it is worth having a competent occupational health professional employed to be in charge of your programme to advise and assist you in management of health risks.
What if I have more than one occupational health service provider?
This situation can be common but can also make the management of occupational health more difficult. There will need to be good channels of communication between you and all the providers and between the providers to ensure a consistent approach and also so that relevant information is shared to ensure the successful management of the system.