This document sets down standards of good practice for occupational physicians and is based on Good Medical Practice (2013, amended in 29th April 2014) in which the GMC defines the standards, conduct and behaviour expected of all doctors. It updates and supersedes earlier guidance by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (Good Occupational Medical Practice 2010).
The need for specific additional guidance for occupational physicians arises because their practice differs significantly from that of doctors in most other specialities. The occupational physician usually has responsibilities to employers as well as to workers. Moreover, occupational physicians often work in privately organised occupational health services, and undertake a range of clinical and managerial activities that differ markedly from those of other doctors (see below).
From: The Occupational Physician
The precise duties of an occupational physician may include to:
- visit the workplace and advise on the provision of safe and healthy conditions by informed scientific assessment of the physical and psychological aspects of the working environment
- promote compliance with relevant health and safety legislation
- help develop policies, practices and cultures that promote and maintain the physical, mental and social wellbeing of all workers
- assess the fitness of workers for specific tasks, ensuring a satisfactory fit between person and job, recommending suitable adjustments to enable a person to undertake the work they have been selected to perform safely and effectively, considering any health issues or disabilities they may have
- monitor the health of workers who are potentially exposed to hazards at work through health surveillance programmes
- analyse data from surveillance programmes using sound epidemiological methods
- identify trends in worker health and recommend any remedial measures necessary to improve worker health
- advise employees and employers regarding work-related health issues
- assess potential cases of occupational injuries and illness; investigating, managing and reporting individual cases appropriately and establishing if this is a single case or if there is wider incidence
- manage immunisation programmes for workplace biological hazards and for business travellers
- work with employers to promote best practice in physical and mental health in the workplace to help prevent sick leave
- case manage workers who are on sick leave, working with other health professionals to ensure the earliest return of functional capacity and return to work
- recommend suitable alternate work in circumstances where a worker cannot perform their normal job, either temporarily or on a permanent basis because of a health problem
- determine whether employees satisfy the medical criteria for ill health retirement under the terms of the relevant pension fund rules
- ensure that people have the necessary health information to undertake their work safely and to improve their own health.