Each year more people become ill as a result of their work than are killed or injured in industrial accidents. While most work-caused diseases do not kill, they can make life really uncomfortable for those affected. Work-related ill health is difficult to understand, as poor health can sometimes be due to an incident that happened 20 years ago. Now in 2017, we see 20 deaths a week caused by asbestos work from way back in the 1960’s.
The most important health checks are those required by law —for example, people working with lead, noise, or toxic substances.
If you don’t offer these health checks, then you could seriously harm your workers and be liable to prosecution.
How Can OH (Occupational Health) Services Help?
OH will tell businesses if they need any health checks required by law and check employees for work-related illnesses. There are many levels and types of health checks available, and each health check is specific for the kind of work. It is no good doing a general health check, such as blood pressure and cholesterol test, for a worker who say, works with radiation. The medical examinations and checks have to be relevant to the work. The term for checking workers’ health at work is “health surveillance”.
If OH identifies any health risks, they work with managers and review health risks in the workplace, including manufacturing processes, risks to muscles, and sprains and strains from repetitive movements and substances that harm the body such as dust or sunlight.
Some hazards are not as immediately obvious as others. For example, breathing in invisible vapours and dust to the lungs opens up the body to all sorts of damage as the toxin travels in the body to other organs.
Fitness for Work
Workers in dangerous environments such as confined spaces or extreme heat will need health checks to make sure general fitness and to make sure they don’t harm themselves or others due to poor health.
Wellbeing Health Checks
The government now suggests that businesses improve the health of their workers by providing health programmes, such as:
- Cholesterol checks
- Well-man and well-woman health checks
- Stop-smoking courses
- Relaxation and exercise programmes
OH services help you decide on and deliver these programmes to your workers.
Organisations must also look closely at processes, substances and environments. Looking for potential health hazards as part of an overall health risk management program. If you find a health risk you can’t control fully, set up a health check risk programme with your OH service.
Your OH service feeds back to you the results of the health check programmes.
If there are signs of health problems, then move the worker to different work or suggest more in-depth speciality health tests. More importantly, though, you need to find why this happened and change your job practices or substances to safer options.
What’s The Impact on Your Workers
Employees must be aware of any potential risks to their health when working. Plus, go to company health checks during their working day.
Employees must understand that health checks protect their health and for no other reason. Some workers mistakenly believe that any health issues found equals an excuse to get rid of them, So write your company policy explaining the facts.
Is there any Law on This?
- The primary law is the Health and Safety at Work Act, which sets out the general principles of worker protection
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations specifies risk assessment
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations set out the principles of health surveillance and covers health risks such as dust, fumes, biological agents and chemicals
- Consulting employees on Health and Safety Regulations may apply to your workplace
- Other substances/process-specific laws include health monitoring information—e.g., noise, hand-arm vibration, lead, asbestos, compressed air, or radiation.
- What is Health Surveillance– Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive
- Safety Critical Medicals in the Construction Industry (video)
- See “Is health surveillance required in my workplace”