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Occupational Health Awareness Week 2023

Focussing on bringing awareness of occupational health (OH) to SMEs, Occupational Health Awareness Week (18th - 24th September 2023) is a campaign led by the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and COHPA to put OH in the spotlight.

SMEs are five times less likely to seek OH support than larger businesses, yet are disproportionately affected by employee sickness absence.

Lack of awareness and misunderstandings contribute to this lack of OH engagement, and this week's campaign offers resources to SMEs to help share the many benefits of having OH support and the positive difference it can make to a small or medium-sized business.

COHPA's "A Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)" is a great source of information.

This video explains the importance of occupational health for SMEs:

What is occupational health?

Occupational health looks after the health of employees.

Life and work aren't separate things, and employees have changing health needs throughout their working lives. From a first job to retirement, a lot can happen in between. Occupational health helps employees and businesses navigate that journey by offering impartial advice on health matters and supporting employee wellbeing.

Typical services offered by occupational health may include:

  • Pre-placement / post-offer health screening at the start of employment

  • Health surveillance where occupational hazards exist - ensuring health & safety measures are working and health isn't being adversely affected by work

  • Fit to work medicals - ensuring employees are fit to do specific roles safely

  • Management referrals - when an employee is experiencing a health issue and employers need advice about how to support them at work or help them return

  • DSE Assessments - checking computer/VDU users' workstations are set up correctly for the individual, to minimise risks of ill health health

  • Drug & alcohol testing - in line with company policies

  • Vaccines - where occupational hazards exist, for business travellers, or annual flu vaccines

  • Health promotion and education - encouraging healthy lifestyles and empowering employees with the knowledge to make healthy choices

Whilst OH professionals include specialist doctors and nurses, OH is not like a GP service. OH clinicians, in general, cannot diagnose, prescribe, or treat medical conditions and offer an advisory service only. Many OH service providers offer onward support such as counselling and physiotherapy, either in-house or through trusted partners.

It's important to remember that OH advice is purely that - advice. OH cannot tell an employer what to do. Employers need only to consider the advice given within the wider context of their business and have the final say over how much of the advice they can reasonably take.

Research shows that companies who invest in occupational health (OH) benefit from added value through reduced sickness absence and improved productivity.

OH also contributes towards improved corporate image, better quality of life for employees, and avoidance of litigation.

Occupational health is much more than you think:

All Health Matters offers dedicated support for SMEs to help offer OH support in an affordable way. Sign up for a contract to provide regular support, or just call us when you need us - whatever makes sense for your business. If you'd like to speak to us for a no-pressure chat about your needs, get in touch.

Find out more:




Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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