Schemes for helping workers return to work
Early access to advice
This service could be used for workers with back symptoms who are still at work or any who are on sick leave:
- Occupational health professionals with experience of back problems and workplace situations (occupational physiotherapists, occupational therapists or other appropriate health professionals) are able to give advice through telephone contact.
- The system should include assessment of clinical priority. Severe conditions linked to back pain are rare. A caller with very serious symptoms would be directed to seek medical attention as appropriate as they may need urgent treatment from the NHS.
- Other callers can be reassured and given appropriate advice with a follow up contact arranged if necessary. The occupational health professionals must follow best clinical practice including clinical guidelines on back pain.
- The occupational health professional will be able to highlight any work factors that are causing difficulty and should liaise with supervisors or managers if necessary in order to help the person stay at work or return to work.
- Some cases will require monitoring by occupational health professionals with a review of progress at regular intervals.
- Some individuals such as those with a serious condition or serious back injury may be under the care of their GP or hospital specialist. While they are absent from work long term, occupational health professionals will be in a position to liaise with the GP or specialist to gain further information on the diagnosis and the plans for medical management including time frames. This will enable you to plan your work and arrange for cover as needed.
If you need help to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health issues you can contact:
- Fit for Work Fit for Work offers free, confidential and impartial work-related health advice to employers and employees with the aim of helping employed people who are off sick for four weeks or more to return to work.
- Healthy Working Lives The free Health for Work Adviceline in Scotland.
- Healthy Working Wales The free Health for Work Adviceline for Small Business in Wales.
- Manual handling at work: A brief guide
- Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace
- Manual handling assessment charts
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool
- Making the best use of lifting and handling aids