1. Overview

As an employer, you are required by law to prevent physical and mental ill health in your workers that may occur as a result of your business activities. Your risk assessment will help you decide what actions you need to take to do this.

An important part of occupational health is concerned with how work and the work environment can impact on workers’ health, both physical and mental. It also includes how workers’ health can affect their ability to do their job. Put simply this means the effect of work on health and that of health on work.

In health and safety law, there are things you must do to make sure workers’ health is not adversely affected by their work and that workers are medically fit to carry out their work safely. This includes:

  • implementing health or medical surveillance when necessary
  • ensuring workers are medically fit to undertake the role required (your industry may produce such standards)
  • reviewing your risk assessment when a worker is returning to work following sickness absence or declares a health condition

There are other things that you should do where workers have health conditions or disabilities, either work-related or not. This includes complying with equality legislation when supporting workers both in and returning to work.

There are things that you could do which are aimed at improving the general health and well-being of workers. However, these actions should not be prioritised over the things you must do, should be based on your workers’ needs and be evidence based.

There is more information on buying support from occupational health professionals and assessing the competence of occupational health professionals.

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