Why Occupational Health?
There are many strong arguments to support an organisational focus on occupational health (often described as “the promotion and maintenance of physical and mental well-being of all staff and the prevention of ill health”). It is undoubtedly in an organisation’s interest to look after the health of its staff, who are a key (and costly) resource.
Organisations have a duty to look after the people they employ whilst they are at work. Employers’ responsibilities are also set out in legislation, meaning that organisations that don’t comply with protecting the health and well-being of workers may face costly legal come-backs that could damage their reputation.
Therefore, the benefits to employers of focusing on occupational health are clear – perhaps the most tangible (and measurable) benefit being staff productivity.
Healthy, happy employees are more likely to be productive, so looking after workers’ health is paramount to ensuring organisational success.
This can be ensured by achieving some of the main aims of occupational health:
- Preventing work-related ill health.
- Promoting the wellbeing of workers.
- Ensuring that the work environment and work practices are assessed and modified to the needs of individuals, where necessary.
- Managing health related risks in the workplace.
What about the benefits for employees? Undoubtedly people want to work in safe environments. Even those who love their jobs would not want to work in an environment that poses uncontrolled risks to their health. If risks are managed at work then people can continue to work safely, and there is much to be gained from remaining in work in terms of financial standing, improved self-esteem and confidence.
Most employers are experts in their own field, but aren’t specialists in occupational health. For this reason, occupational health is a specialism run by professionals who understand working environments and health. Occupational health professionals are also able to take an unbiased view of situations to decide whether there are risks to a person’s health or not.