Employers often need to refer employees for an Occupational Health Assessment for back pain or other health issues.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) are costing UK businesses £7.4 billion a year through absenteeism. Also an estimated £15 billion a year in presenteeism – people at work, but working less productively. It affects all ages, but we also now have an ageing workforce and higher retirement age, so there are more individuals with health needs in the working population.

What is an Occupational Health Assessment?

It may be that an employee is struggling to do the work tasks due to various reasons, they have:

  • Had an injury, recently.
  • Been diagnosed with a new medical condition.
  • Age-related aches and pains.
  • Been awaiting treatment, such as surgery.
  • Been on sick leave, so have not done the tasks for some time.

Fit Note and Reasonable Adjustments

Employers may have correspondence from the individual’s GP. A ‘Fit Note’ may have been completed by the GP indicating the individual can ‘return to work’. It may indicate that ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010 are required.

An employee may be working, but with a medical condition so ‘reasonable adjustments’ also apply.

Specialist medical letters may be available and appointments may be ongoing for treatment and rehabilitation. Healthcare may be provided by NHS services or privately.

Generally the GP cannot provide an opinion on what the individual worker can or cannot do, as this requires specialist assessment by a workplace health specialist service, often known under the ‘umbrella term’ of an Occupational Health Service.

Individuals require an indepth personalised Occupational Health Assessment to review their medical situation, what symptoms they experience, what activities and postures they can and cannot do. The assessor should have a good understanding of what the job role involves, from the employer and the individual themselves. How many minutes per day the individual has to be in different postures and  perform specific tasks.

Types of Occupational Health Services

Occupational Health Services may be available within your organisation or you may contract in these services. The services can vary greatly. Some may have a team of health professionals available to advise and provide a service on many different matters. Such as flu vaccinations, pre-employment medicals, healthy lifestyle advice etc.  Through to complex case management advice and assessments. Assessing physical ability to perform tasks, mental health assessments, medical retirement etc.

Some Occupational Health teams consist of OH specialist nurses and doctors, known as Occupational Health Physicians. Only a doctor can diagnose a health condition. Often the GP or NHS /private specialist service doctors will have done this. The team can have physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational hygienists and occupational therapists in the team. Generally the team have a wide skill mix, due to their past work roles, so they can compliment each others range of expertise.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational Health Services are also delivered by smaller uni-professional teams.  Health Care Professionals can advise on work and health matters, where it falls within their expertise. Occupational Therapists are experts in assessing physical and mental health, function and ability. They find practical solutions so individual’s can be independent in activities.

Occupational Health Assessment for Back Pain

The type of Occupational Health Assessment for back pain and other medical conditions will depend on the individual’s health need and what job they perform. There are a number of options:

For sedentary workers:

A DSE Risk Assessment may be sufficient for an individual with recently experienced intermittent aches and pains, not requiring longer term treatment or diagnosis.  It may be the symptoms are related to the seating in use and postures adpted for performing tasks.

An Ergonomic Assessment of their workstation is required for an individual with more ongoing health /medical issues often affecting the hands, arms, shoulders, neck and back. They may have had a DSE Risk Assessment prior to this assessment and issues have not resolved. This assessment is in more depth than a DSE Risk Assessment.  eg They need measuring for a different chair or other equipment like a different mouse or keyboard.

For Active Workers:

For workers who perform physically active jobs, a Functional Capacity Evaluation will find out if they can do the physical tasks, such as standing for long periods of the day and performing manual handling tasks.

Remember: A physical health issue, can also have a mental health impact and the other way around! An indepth Occupational Health Assessment will consider all of the impact on the individual and provide practical advice.

Management Training & Support

Also, management require training and support so they feel confident in supporting the health needs of their team.

In 2017 Business In the Community launched a Musculoskeletal Health Toolkit for Employers which is a useful resource.

Open conversations with individuals and flexibility in the working pattern to allow them to attend appointments, will all help. If they are better supported in their health & wellbeing needs, they will be happier and perform better!

There is a business case and a moral case when considering supporting individuals’ wellbeing.  Employers have a Duty of Care to their employees. The business benefits from reduction in sickness absence costs and recruitment costs (including interview and  training of new employees). It also can reduce strain on the rest of the team.

Healthywork offers a range of Occupational Health Assessments.

Contact Us to find out more about these and other services on offer.

Alison Biggs

DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regime, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Healthywork Ltd does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned on this website. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is solely at your own risk.

Occupational Health Assessment for Back Pain

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Watford Borough Council

Thanks very much for the (Functional Capacity) report which we have found extremely useful

Nicola Sharp

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Alison Biggs has been a Specialised Assessor on KMG Health Partners roster since its UK inception in 2004. We highly recommend her based on her knowledge, skills, diversity, quality and client / customer care. She has also been extremely flexible with scheduling and geographic locations. You can expect positive outcomes from accessing her service.

Ergonomic Assessments, Functional Capacity Evaluations and Job Demands Analysis for clients over the UK: including, Devon, Bristol, Kent, London, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland.

Gail Kovacs

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Our HR advisor has read your report and said it was the best she has read in 35 years!

Worksite Assessment performed in Axminster, Devon.

Adam Clark

Enable Therapy Services Ltd

Enable Therapy Services Ltd has used the services of Healthywork Ltd on many occasions over the last 18 months.

We have found their services efficient and their reports excellent.

They continue to be our first choice when requiring vocational related assessments/reports.

Ergonomic Assessments, Functional Capacity Assessments and Vocational Assessments provided in Glocester, Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, West Sussex, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Shropshire and Avon.

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UNUM

Alison is professional at all times, she is easy to work with, adaptable and open to discussing how, through the reports she produces she can meet the changing needs of her clients.

Elaine Cook

David Higham Associates

They (the employees) were all happy with the work you did on the day you came in. Thanks a lot for your help. (Workstation Risk Assessments, November 2011)

Tine Nielsen David Higham Associates

White Label Recruitment Marketing

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Thanks for the (DSE Risk Assessments) report. We’ve already acted on your recommendations, invested in a few key pieces of equipment and changed our (bad) habits. So thanks for helping us to proactively stay healthy or keep our legacy issues in check!

(January 2018)

Tracey Anderson
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Atos Healthcare

Alison has provided a regular service to Atos Healthcare since July 2007. She is professional, flexible and delivers to timescales and her services have been valued by us and our customer Royal Mail.

Mrs Santu Bhudia, Atos Healthcare

CRF Institute/Britains Top Employers

Our visit from Alison was an eye-opener. We thought that we knew what we were doing but every single team member learned something new. We learned how to use our equipment properly, we learned how to sit properly and we have all made adjustments to how we work since her visit. Everyone in the team has given feedback since that they are more comfortable in their daily work, and one person who has been in pain for months has changed her position and is now pain-free. Alison is friendly, easy to work with and great value for money. As manager, I thought that I would have to invest in a lot of new equipment but the reality is simply that we weren’t using what we had properly. I would definitely use Alison again and will write a workstation assessment into our on-boarding process for any new employees joining our team.

Eleanor Nickerson, Manager CRF Institute/Britains Top Employers

Viridor Ltd

I found today’s assessment very helpful indeed, and am trying my best to keep my keyboard as close to me as possible – makes a big difference when I do, it’s even increased my speed and accuracy, lol.

Also, and more to the point, the pain in my back hasn’t got any worse today, and I haven’t used the wrist support, so having my arms supported (on arm rests) is clearly doing something for them already.

V. Jones Viridor Ltd