An Occupational Health Assessment is a medical examination performed on an employee by an Occupational Health Expert. The main aim of the report is to advise employers and employees of the employee’s health.
The report should contain specific recommendations on what adjustments could possibly be considered to ensure a safe/healthy working environment for that employee. The report could also be an assessment of somebody’s fitness to work.
Functions of occupational health within the workplace are to:
- Focus on both the mental and physical wellbeing of employees in the workplace;
- Prevent work-related illness and injury; and
- Promote the health and wellbeing of all employees.
Occupational health encourages safe working practices, assists in analysing ergonomics, monitors employees’ health, and assists employers in the management of sickness absence.
An occupational health service is the opportunity for employers to support their staff which is what Wurkplace provides for its retainer clients.
Whilst the Assessment assesses an employee’s physical and mental health it also provides the employer with recommendations to assist them in identifying, where possible, if any adjustments can be made to ensure that the employee returns to work in a healthy and safe manner.
The Assessment also gives the employer instructions on what they must do to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for that employee and their colleagues.
The primary purpose of an occupational health assessment is to prevent work-related injuries. Most often, they determine whether an employee is physically suited for a particular job. They can also identify any pre-existing conditions that make an employee more at risk of certain hazards.
Different Types of Occupational Health Assessments
There are different types of Occupational Health Assessments. The type of assessment that is required by an employee is very much dependent on the job that employee undertakes within an organisation. These include:
A pre employment health assessment
This type of assessment is a screening, performed by a healthcare professional, to determine whether an employee is medically fit for the job and its duties. It is requested by an employer, as part of the risk assessment process, but only after they have made a job offer.
The specifics of the assessment are determined by the type of occupation. For example, the assessment for a police officer will differ greatly from that of an office worker.
Despite this, the pre-employment health assessment commonly consists of:
- The completion of a health questionnaire that asks about health issues relevant to the job.
- Discussion regarding any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Health checks related to specific risks associated with the work. For example, a respiratory health check if the job involves exposure to hazardous substances.
- Physical ability tests to measure the employee’s ability to perform a job requirement. For example, a fitness test for a firefighter.
Fitness for work assessment
This type of assessment ensures that the individual is fit to perform the tasks required and is not a risk to their own, or others’, health and safety. These assessments help employers identify when and where they need to make reasonable adjustments to the job, task, or working environment.
These are needed when a worker has a health condition that:
- Limits or prevents them from performing their job effectively. For example, if they have a musculoskeletal condition that will affect manual handling work.
- Will be made worse by the job. For example, if they have dermatitis and they need to work around chemicals.
- Might make certain work environments unsafe for them. For example, if they have limited vision and they need to work in a poorly-lit environment.
- Poses a risk to the community. For example, if they have recently had food poisoning and are returning to their job as a food handler.
- Fitness for work assessments may also be needed when somebody is returning to work after a period of absence. For example, if they are returning after maternity leave, illness, or injury.
Job specific assessment
This is a type of assessment that is related to a specific working task or practice. This might include:
- Working with Power Tools – employees should undergo frequent health assessments if they use vibrating power tools as part of their regular job role. This is to ensure that they are not suffering from hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), or vibration white finger.
- Working at Height – anybody who works at height must be safe to do so. This means that, before they are allowed to work at height, an employee should be assessed to ensure they don’t have any medical conditions that may affect their safety. For example, poor vision or vertigo.
- Lone Working – if somebody has to work alone as part of their job role, then their employer should ensure that they consider the risks associated with it. For example, what to do in an emergency, whether the person has the abilities needed for the job role, and the risk of loneliness.
- Display Screen Equipment – there are a number of risks that accompany the use of DSE, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Employers, or a DSE assessor, must ensure that an employee’s display screen equipment is correctly positioned and that they know how to adopt the correct working posture.
Mental Health Assessments
A mental health assessment examines an employee’s mental health. It gives them the opportunity to discuss any pre-existing mental health conditions, any that have arisen whilst they have worked there, or any factors at work that are affecting their mental health. For example, the pressure of tight deadlines.
A mental health assessment is essential for promoting positive mental health in a workplace. You can have an occupational health assessment for depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health conditions.
If an employee has returned to work after a period of absence for a mental health condition, such as if they have had time off for depression, then an employer must complete a mental health occupational assessment on their return. This is to ensure they have the opportunity to discuss returning to work and any adjustments they need their employer to make.
Comprehensive Occupational Health Services
If you have any questions about this guide or would like to learn more about our occupational health management services, then feel free to call us on the number below or use our contact form.
As a Managing Director at Wurkplace since May 2010, Karen has extensive HR, employment law and health and Safety experience from working within the private sector.
She also boasts experience of working in the public sector including local authority, fire service, police, schools, colleges, charities, NHS.