What is an Occupational Heath assessment?

An occupational health assessment is an assessment of your employee performed by a consultant qualified in occupational health. This usually means a qualified nurse, or doctor, with an additional qualification in occupational health. The structure of the assessment is based upon the consultant answering questions asked by the employer via a referral form. From this a report is produced that will assist the employer in managing their employee within the workplace.

A report is not generally intended for the purpose of treatment or diagnosis, however it may give an opinion where the consultant feels a condition needs further investigation, or where it is believed the employee may benefit from a specific treatment or therapy.

Issues that an occupational health assessment can provide help with are listed below, but this is not exhaustive. A consultant will provide specialised occupational health opinion on any matter that involves both an employee’s health and their work role or environment.

Long term sickness absence. Provision of advice upon whether the employee is fit for work, or their likely length of absence, and whether their condition may be permanent. This will indicate any adjustments that an employer is legally obliged to provide, or may simply improve the employee’s health and wellbeing in general.

Short term absence. In order to provide an opinion upon whether an underlying medical condition may exist. And assist the employer in deciding whether progression via the long term, or short term, management route would be the most appropriate. Find out more about sickness absence.

General employee support. Referrals are often made for employers feel that their employee may benefit from a meeting with a qualified health professional.

The Equality Act 2010 (disability discrimination). A suitably qualified consultant will be able to provide a qualified opinion upon whether the employee is likely to be covered by the act, as well as the broader legal implications of the act.

Risk assessment. Provide a personalised risk assessment of the employee, in order to measure risk, determine work causation, or further identify any necessary adjustments.

When the employee has reported that their health condition is caused by their work. A detailed report will be provided examining all the evidence that will help determine the degree of work relatedness of a condition and therefore give an view on the potential extent of employer liability.

Workplace disputes and refusal to attend hearings and grievance meetings. Commonly employees become absent with work related stress, and relations between the employer and employee are under strain.

A physical medical, or drug and alcohol testing. Usually physical medicals are completed for routine purposes such as statutory medicals, or those provided in support of an employer’s health and safety processes, e.g. fork lift truck driver fitness, or noise at work regulations. They may also be completed as part of a health promotion campaign, e.g. cardiac risk, health and lifestyle assessments.

Above all, for an occupational health assessment and report to be useful to an employer, it must offer a truly independent opinion.