Occupational Health is all about the effect of health on work and work on health. It reduces risks in the work place and protects both employers and employees.
What is occupational health?
In 1950 the Joint International Labour Organisation ILO/World Health Organisation WHO issued its first definition of occupational health which was:
“Occupational Health is the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations by preventing departures from health, controlling risks and the adaptation of work to people, and people to their jobs.” (ILO / WHO 1950)
This was updated in 1995 to these three objectives:
- The maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity
- The improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to health and safety
- The development of work organisation and working cultures in the direction, which supports health and safety at work, and in doing so promotes a positive social culture and smooth operation and may enhance productivity of the undertaking.
(Source: Twelfth Session of the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health 1995)
Quite simply; Occupational health is about the effect of health on work and work on health. There are four main functions that occupational health nurses provide:
- Health leadership – helping organisations to understand the health needs of their working population and then translating this into a targeted strategy and plan, with appropriate resources
- Health risk management – assessing, controlling and monitoring health risk inherent in the workplace
- Fitness for work – advising on the impact of ill health and the physical & mental capacity on an individuals fitness for work or tasks
- Wellbeing – promoting good health by advising on common health conditions, helping individual make healthy lifestyle choices and building resilience
Leadership concerns the creation of a vision, strategy, plan and support systems to allow health and wellbeing to flourish in an organisation.
Leadership can benefit the individual, group or profession
The following aspects of leadership will be explored in our webinar series:
- Understanding leadership – models and styles
- Health needs assessment and resource management
- Developing the business case
- Strategy and planning
- Creating an effective management system – policy, process, procedures, checklists and flowcharts
Links to a number of resources that you can adapt and adopt in order to help you lead occupational health and wellbeing can be found on our resources page.
Health risk management concerns the identification of health hazards, the assessment of risk, implementation of control measures and the monitoring of health effects.
The following aspects of health risk management will be explored in our webinar series:
- Health hazard identification
- Health risk assessment – assessing the likelihood and severity of a hazards causing harm
- Developing and implementing control measures
- Monitoring the health effects though health surveillance, site surveys, health assessments and incident monitoring
Links to a number of resources that you can adapt and adopt in order to help you to manage health risks in the workplace can be found on our resources page.
Fitness for work concerns the assessment of an individuals ability to perform the activities required for their role. As the health and wellbeing of all individual fluctuates due to the impact of ill health, injury or imbalance.
The following aspects of fitness for work will be explored in our webinar series:
- Biopsychosocial model
- Workplace adjustments
- Functional assessment
- Report writing
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Psychological screening
Links to a number of resources that you can adapt and adopt in order to help you to manage absence in the workplace can be found on our resources page.
Wellbeing concerns creating a culture in which employees can thrive at work; promoting healthy lifestyle choices, building resilience, improving engagement and integrating work and life aspects.
The following aspects of wellbeing will be explored in our webinar series:
- More than ‘fruit on Fridays’
- Lifestyle risk management
- Managing common health conditions
- Resilience and mindfulness
- Meaning and purpose
Links to a number of resources that you can adapt and adopt in order to help you to provide a workplace wellbeing programme can be found on our resources page.