3. Assess the competence of occupational health professionals

Occupational health professionals can work as independent professionals or as part of an occupational health provider service, and can include doctors and nurses.

Occupational health professionals have duties under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which covers the general duties of employers and self-employed to people other than their employees.

These duties require occupational health professionals to carry out their undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that they don’t expose people not in their employment to risks to their health and safety.

The following information will help you assess the competence of an occupational health professional to carry out health surveillance. You should:

  • choose an occupational health professional with the right skills and competence for the roles that you need them to undertake
  • ask to see their professional qualifications relevant to the duties you need them to undertake
  • see evidence of a system of continued professional development and clinical governance
Occupational health professionals: Competence and qualifications
Title Description Qualifications
Occupational health physician (consultant) or Occupational health nurse (advisor, practitioner) Medical or nursing professional with additional qualifications - occupational medicine (doctor) or occupational health (nurse)

Check registration with the relevant governing body using personal identification number:

Doctors General Medical Council
Should hold an occupational medicine qualification, for example:

  • Diploma in Occupational Medicine (DOccMed), usually a general practitioner, has a basic level of competence across the field of occupational medicine and understands the practical and ethical considerations that apply at work
  • Associates of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine hold a higher qualification (AFOM) and are usually in training to become specialists
  • Members of the Faculty (MFOM) are specialists who should be able to deal with the full range and complexity of workplace health problems

Nurses Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Should hold an occupational health qualification, for example certificate, diploma or degree which may be recorded on Part 3 of the NMC register Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN)

Check for specific competency requirements and see evidence as outlined in the applicable health and safety regulations, for example certificates of competency for hand-arm vibration syndrome assessments, spirometry or audiometry

Appointed doctor (AD) A doctor approved by HSE to undertake medical surveillance under certain health and safety regulations for example asbestos, lead, ionising radiation HSE has information on ADs including a list of ADs in your area
Occupational health technicians and responsible persons
Title Description Qualifications
Occupational health technician (support worker) A non-medical or nursing professional

There is no governing body or recognised qualification for occupational health technicians.

  • If technicians are involved in health surveillance, they should receive training from a competent training provider for the specific aspects of work they are involved in, for example spirometry and audiometry
  • Their work must be supervised by an occupational health physician or nurse
  • They must not interpret test results or provide feedback from health surveillance
Responsible person Carry out simple screening as part of your health surveillance scheme

A responsible person is someone you appoint who is competent to carry out simple screening and report any positive findings to an occupational health professional. You can appoint someone from your own workforce to be a responsible person.

They should:

  • be trained to deliver the aspects of work they are involved in, such as simple screening. The training can be delivered by an occupational health professional or via a formal training course
  • have a clearly defined role
  • be someone trusted by the workforce
  • have good communication and interpersonal skills
  • create and send records to be stored as part of the health surveillance system
  • not make any judgements if symptoms are disclosed to them
 
Updated 2021-10-04