Occupational health services are there to support people in the workplace, to help to ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy and to address health problems when they arise. Occupational health and occupational medicine are concerned with the interaction of health and work, recognising that work can affect health and vice versa.
Many large organisations have their own occupational health service, or buy in services from provider companies. Smaller organisations are more likely to seek advice or buy in occupational health services on an ad hoc basis.
If any employer seeks occupational health advice, as with all other advice provided to the employer, this needs to be competent, and this is also a requirement under health and safety legislation.
There is now an accreditation system for occupational health services, SEQOHS which is a set of standards and a process of voluntary accreditation for occupational health services. Its purpose is to check that standards are being met and to help to raise the overall standard of care provided by occupational health services. A list of accredited services is available. This is a new scheme, launched in 2010, and many more services are in the process of being accredited.
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine has published guidance on engaging an occupational physician; this is a doctor who has undertaken advanced training in work and health. Occupational physicians can help employers to minimise the impacts of health risks to the business in such areas as: complying with the Equality Act; identifying work-related disease at the earliest point, to facilitate early intervention and treatment; advising on preventing and minimising work-related illness; complying with health surveillance, and, where required, advising on statutory reporting of work-related disease; assessing fitness for work during and after illness; and training managers to manage attendance and sickness absence.
Lists of occupational physicians who are offering services can be found at: