Occupational Health Assessments at work

Occupational Health Assessments at work are required when there are health issues. Commonly, back pain and other painful or fatigue inducing conditions, but also for neurological, heart and respiritory conditions and for mental health or memory concerns.

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

  • An injury occurred, recently.
  • Diagnosed with a new medical condition.
  • Age-related aches and pains.
  • Awaiting treatment, such as surgery.
  • Have been on sick leave, so have not done the tasks for some time.
  • Experiencing stress or another mental health difficulty.
  • Memory and concentration difficulties.

Costs of ill health and injury

Injuries and ill health in workers in Great Britain cost around 16.2 billion in 2018/19. (2018 prices)

£10.6 billion – ill health and £5.6 billion – injury.

£3.16 billion (20%) costs to employers. £9.56 billion (59%) costs to individuals. The rest, £3.5 billion (22%) costs to government. See HSE Costs to Britain report 

Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year (reported dated January 2020) before the coronavirus pandemic.

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 ‘may be fit for work’. It may indicate that ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010 are required, such as a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations.

An employee may be working, but with a medical condition so ‘reasonable adjustments’ may 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 internally, within your organisation or they may be contracted in.

The services can vary greatly.

Some may have a team of health professionals available to advise and provide a service on many different matters.

From prevention advice and treatments, such as flu vaccinations, pre-employment medicals, healthy lifestyle advice etc.

To the other end of the scale, providing complex case management advice and assessments. Such as assessing physical ability to perform tasks, mental health assessments, reasonable adjustments and advice on decisions such as ill health retirement (IHR) 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 also include physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational hygienists and occupational therapists.

Generally the team will have a wide skill mix, due to their past work roles, so they can compliment each others range of expertise.

Some work from their own premises, holding appointments away from the workplace. Others conduct their services at the workplace.

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 can also look at the job task area to perform detailed more assessments of the job demands, including the environment and equipment in use. This can assist when deciding on solutions and reasonable adjustments which are required.

Occupational Therapists find practical solutions so individual’s can be independent in activities and work to their full potential.

Occupational Health Assessments at work

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

For sedentary workers with physical issues:

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 a 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 with physical issues:

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 in-depth Occupational Health Assessment will consider all of the impact on the individual and provide practical advice.

For workers with Mental health or Cognitive issues:

For workers who have mental health needs, a Mental Health Assessment will find out more about their health situation and advice on their ability to perform their work tasks.

Those individuals experiencing cognitive changes, and memory issues, concentration difficulites, a Cognitive Assessment can assess they ability to perform tests and advise on their ability to perform work tasks.

Management Training & Support

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

For example, Business In the Community (BITC) have a Musculoskeletal Health Toolkit for Employers & also a Mental Health Toolkit for Employers both of which are a useful resources and they have many more.

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!

Benefits of supporting wellbeing

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.

Occupational Health Assessments at work

See the range of  Healthywork’s  Occupational Health Services (held Face to Face or some can be held via Video call)

See our Case Studies:

Ergonomic Assessment in an Office Role Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment of a Teacher Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment & Return-to-Work Case Study

Mental Health Assessment Case Study

Manual Handling & Ergonomics Training Case Study

See our blog articles related to this topic:

Contact Us for further advice and a quotation.

See our Useful Links page which includes diagnosis specific advice from organisations which can help.

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 Assessments at Work

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Friendly, helpful and informative, since Healthywork assessed my workstation and advised me, my bad back is better. What more do I need to say?

Mr Sam Morris, Qualification Curriculum Authority, Central london

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Alison @healthywork provided a very comprehensive report with recommendations to suit our clients needs. A very professional service.

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

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We all enjoyed our recent training update, it was really useful and informative. I have completed 2 ergonomic assessments since the training and I found it really helped.

(Ergonomic Training delivered, 2012)

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David Higham Associates

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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)

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Ergonomic Assessment Testimonial by Fegans

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Thank you once again for the excellent service you have provided.  Jane was very satisfied with the assessment and I would be happy to recommend you to others needing workstation or other work-place assessments. (December 2017)

Linden Sanders, Operations Director
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AME

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Alison has carried out 100s of assessments for AME some of which have involved multi disciplinary work with other stakeholders such as physiotherapists, computer technicians. Her work with the NHS and medical knowledge has brought an enhanced level of credibility to the work based employment assessment that she undertakes.

Clients trust her, she is diplomatic and highly professional at all times even when placed under considerable pressure to meet tight deadlines and juggle conflicting priorities.

Andy Taylor, Access Made Easy

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)

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine

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Alison provided workstation assessments and advice during our relocation. Although we are a small organisation it was important to obtain professional and expert help and I would recommend Alison to others without hesitation. (Workstation Risk Assessments and Ergonomic Assessments 2012)

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An Ergonomic Assessment provided by Healthywork was well worth the money. The chair has been set up correctly, and is now more comfortable for the user and we have purchased the desktop equipment they suggested and this along with correct layout and improved positioning has really helped towards resolving the discomfort experienced.

Linda Marston Human Resource Manager OTAL Limited - HO Birmingham Innovative solutions to and from West Africa