Occupational health is an issue that, over recent years, has become more of a concern for companies, many of whom now employ a dedicated occupational health manager.
What is Occupational Health?
Occupational health looks at the effects of work on an employee’s health and also the effects of health on work and goes above and beyond the confines of health and safety compliance. Although the role of the occupational health manager would encompass health and safety legislation, unless a company employs a separate individual to carry out that role, they are more concerned with looking at the bigger picture in terms of promoting well-being programmes.
These programmes could be focused upon issues such as looking at assessing employees’ lifestyles outside of work as well as within the workplace. They might tailor specific programmes for individuals which could perhaps be aimed at improving diet and fitness, managing stress, rehabilitation after injury or illness, disability adjustments and the management of any specific existing work related health issues. The aim being to understand employees’ needs when it comes to health, to reduce sickness and to maximise staff productivity and performance levels.
What are the Benefits?
In addition to increased productivity, less sickness absence and improved staff morale, an occupational health manager can help a company reduce their costs which are associated with absence, insurance and, perhaps, even litigation. They can also help to identify health related problems which might be prevalent within a particular environment and to intervene quickly to prevent any potential general health problems emerging which could damage the productivity of the company.
Ultimately, by promoting a culture of employee well-being, not only does this keep the existing workforce in good health but, in the long term, it also means that staff turnover rates will be lower and this will also enable a company to keep staff recruitment and training costs to a minimum.
Other areas in which an occupational health manager would get involved might include things like pre-employment health screening which would determine whether or not certain job applicants are fit enough, both physically and mentally, to do the job for which they are applying. It could also incorporate things like drug testing, trying to rectify prolonged absence through sickness and even issues around bullying.
In fact, a good occupational health manager is not simply there to benefit the company but to provide the workforce with a useful resource which they can use to find out more about any general or specific health and fitness queries they might have, even if they are not poorly but simply wish to improve upon their existing good health and fitness.
Some smaller companies will obviously not have the resources to appoint a specialist occupational health manager but in adopting an holistic approach to the welfare of their workforce and, where possible, engaging them in discussions about their health and welfare and listening to how, as an employer, you might be able to assist them in these areas, it is likely to make for a more productive, healthier workforce.