Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions .... with the answers !

What is Occupational Health?

Occupational Health is a branch of medicine concerned with how a worker's health can affect his or her ability to do a job and how the work and work environment can affect an employee's health. The occupational health practitioner offers the skills required to meet the needs of business and ensure the optimum health of all employees including:

  • Awareness of how a business operates
  • An appreciation of management skills
  • Knowledge of law relating to the workplace and employment
  • An understanding of the health hazards that can arise at work
  • The ability to assess risks relating to the health of individuals and groups

What are the main services provided?

Pre placement Health screening

The pre-placement health questionnaire submitted by a prospective employee is kept confidentially by Access OH as the first enclosure of that employees occupational health record, providing a baseline of data and information for comparison against subsequent health checks or contact. We provide a certificate of advice on fitness for a particular role with restrictions and recommendations as applicable and also a prediction for future absence due to illness.

Health Surveillance

This is the process of ensuring the early detection of work related ill health through routine medical checks. Whilst existing health and safety control measures are designed to prevent ill health, the surveillance will provide confirmation of its effectiveness. If measures are shown to be inadequate, surveillance will help detect the early stages of conditions, for example; reduced hearing, lung problems and / or skin disorders. Health Surveillance provides reasureance that employees are symptoms free and safe to perform duties.

Absence management and rehabilitation

This is the process of providing support to employees who are unwell in such a way that their suffering is minimised, and encouraging a safe and speedy return to work. An employer doesn’t want people to be away sick anymore than people let themselves want to be sick or injured. We provide a referral form template. Reports are provided within 3 working days.

What do we mean by managing absence and return to work?

Businesses are taking a more active approach towards sickness absence. Access Occupational Health’s aim is to support management in showing commitment to staff welfare, to manage sickness absence in a fair and supportive manner and get staff back to work sooner and safely.

It is not the intention to force employees who are unfit back to work. Rather we support businesses in taking positive action to improve attendance through well thought out rehabilitation programmes. Being back to work often proves therapeutic better than staying at home.

If an employee is absent from work because of illness, employees should inform line manager in accordance to the company policy. In certain circumstances line manager will discuss this with the employee and initiate a referral to Access OH. In referring, managers will have employee best interests and welfare in mind.

Immediate referrals are most likely to happen for conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, back pain and accidents at work, where early intervention often gets a good response.

A typical referral may also be made in individual cases of sickness absence longer than 20 consecutive working days, or at any other time where an underlying medical condition is highlighted, or as part of employers Absence Management Procedure.

How confidential will occupational health records be?

Access OH operates to an ethical code of practice. Reports on employee fitness to work are disclosed to your line manager. Specific details about employee health are not divulged to third parties unless you give your consent for relevant details to be disclosed, unless there were safety risks to the employee or colleagues and Access OH felt management must be told.

Where are medical records kept?

Medical records will be held by Access OH Health in a locked filing cabinet and can only be accessed by Access OH. Employees may have access to records in accordance with Data Protection legislation.

How does health surveillance work?

Before a visit by Access OH, we will work with you to make arrangements to draw up the programme for a visit. We will help you prepare a list of your staff and their workplace hazards help to determine which medical checks should be carried out and how often.

Having decided the health surveillance programme for each area, employees will be invited to attend a health surveillance appointment. In preparation for this, employees may be asked to complete a health questionnaire which will form part of the medical assessment.

What tests are involved?

Depending upon the hazards identified for the job, the test may include all or some of the following tests:

  • A vision test for distance and near acuity, peripheral field and colour deficiency. If required a mid-range test is available for those who use computer screens. The OHA will recommend a referral to an optician if there is any need for corrective action.
  • An audiometry (hearing) test. The employee will be asked to respond to tones at different frequencies fed through headphones. The response is recorded on an audiometer which identifies any hearing loss. Early detection is very important so that action to prevent further loss can be taken.
  • Hand arm vibration assessment. Employees who use vibrating tools and who are at risk of conditions such as vibration white finger
    will be assessed initially by questionnaire. The results will show up early symptoms so that action can be taken.
  • Spirometry (Lung function) test. Those exposed to wood, dust or other irritants will be asked to blow into a sriorometer to assess lung function, and wil include a respiratory questionnaire.
  • Skin Inspection. If an employee is exposed to certain materials such as oil and solvents the skin will be checked. In addition, those working in the open and exposed to the sun will be checked for any abnormalities.
  • Body mass index measurement (height compared to weight) and a urine test may be required.

Employees will be given feedback of their results at the time of their health assessment . Management will be provided with a report on fitness without disclosing specific medical test results, thus assuring medical confidentiality.

At each employee / occupational health interaction we provide an opportunity for the employee to raise any health worries with the Occupational Health Advisor (OHA) in confidence. It also allows the OHA the opportunity to reinforce safety training, instruction on the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment).

Do employees have to take part in health surveillance?

Yes. Health surveillance is very important. It meets employers’ business requirements for duty of care and needs employee co-operation.

If a problem shows up during an employees’ health surveillance medical, what happens?

The Occupational Health Advisor would discuss the problem with the employee. If there were no workplace implications the employee would be referred to or advised to seek support from their GP. If test results are reduced you may be asked to be seen by an Occupational Physician for further advice and management. Where there are workplace implications, the Occupational Health Advisor or Physician will involve line management but without breaking medical confidence.

Can employees refer themselves to Access OH?

Employees are normally referred via their line manager or Human Resources / Personnel. If an employee has a medical condition which is affecting their work, or if they suspect work is affecting their health we would advice that this should be discussed with their line manager in the first instance, who will initiate a referral to occcupational health.

What if an employee does not want to be referred?

Employees should be expected to attend a referral in accordance with the business Occupational Health Policy and Procedure. Access OH would be happy to discuss any concerns about attending, including any religious or other personal factors, which will be explored sensitively and fully taken into account.

What if an employee is diagnosed with an illness which may affect employment in their current role?

If an employee is temporarily or permanently restricted in the work they can do, management should attempt to provide alternative duties which are suitable for the employee taking into account the employee health and capabilities.

If, ultimately, the employee cannot be rehabilitated back into the workplace, employment may be terminated on the grounds of capability. This decision will only be taken by management after full consultation with OH and Human resources and the employee in a compassionate manner, offering appropriate advice according to individual circumstances.

Contact 0780 955 8243 or complete the contact form. We'd be happy to discuss your requirements with you.

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0780 955 8243

We are registered in England | Our company registration number is: 6035036  Our VAT Number is: 901963038