An Introduction to Occupational Health

What do you think of when someone mentions occupational health?

Most people will think of a department that employees are referred to for assessment when they’re off sick. An occupational health team can indeed help with sickness absence advice, but they can do so much more too.

Dr Chris Edmond of WorkHealth Jersey introduces occupational health and what you can expect when engaging with occupational health services.

What is occupational health?

Occupational health is a medical speciality focussing on the interaction between work and health. It looks at both the impact that health or disability can have on work and the effect of work on our health.

Or, as the CIPD put it:


[dt_sc_blockquote type=”type2″ cite=”CIPD”] Occupational health seeks to promote and maintain the health and wellbeing of employees, to ensure a positive relationship between an employee’s work and health. Having access to specialist occupational health practitioners is key to unlocking the benefits for employees and organisations.[/dt_sc_blockquote]


Most doctors and other health professionals typically have very brief training on occupational health issues, so it’s essential to seek specialist advice in this complex area. Occupational health teams are unique as they can understand and balance both your business and employee health needs.

What does an occupational health team do?

There are many reasons to use a specialist occupational health team like WorkHealth. They provide independent advice and build close relationships with your HR and health & safety teams to maximise employee health, wellbeing, and productivity.

WorkHealth Jersey currently offers the following services:

Management referrals

Most employees visit occupational health following a ‘management referral’ when a manager or HR department seeks specific advice on how an employee’s health condition or disability may affect their work.

Referrals usually occur after a period of sickness absence, but it’s best to refer as early as possible. Sometimes, with the right advice, you can avoid problems with sickness absence in the first place.

We can offer advice on fitness to work, reasonable adjustments, phased return to work, and can guide your employees to the right specialists or healthcare providers to meet their needs.

We have close relationships with providers that we can utilise to ensure you get the best advice tailored for your business.

Pre-employment medical checks

Suppose your business has specific health or fitness requirements for employees. In that case, we can arrange all the necessary medical checks before they start.

These checks might involve a full executive health check with heart scans, blood tests, and fitness checks. However, it could be as simple as checking your employees have the appropriate immunisations before starting work.

By arranging an assessment for your new starters, you can be confident they are fit for the challenges of their role. It will also make you aware of any adjustments they might need in advance.

It’s important to remember that around 14 per cent of the population have a disability. As disability is a protected characteristic under the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013, you must consider this ahead of time, so employees with a disability have any necessary adjustments and support in the workplace.

Safety-critical assessments

Businesses operating in industries with inherent risks, like construction, need to ensure their workers are fit to carry out their roles without endangering themselves or others.

The best way to do this is through a full health check that ensures your employees are fit to work.

Knowing your employees are fit to work will help avoid any legal problems further down the line if it is ever suggested that an accident occurred due to an unknown medical problem.

Health surveillance

As a business, you are responsible for ensuring their work does not damage your employees’ health.

No matter what hazards your employees are exposed to, we can offer regular assessments to pick up any problems at the earliest possible stage. Frequent reviews protect the health of your employees and your business.

Businesses have been fined massive amounts in the UK when employees develop work-related illnesses and opened themselves up to potential civil claims. So whether you are a bakery, a machine fabricator, a civil engineer, or your work involves any hazard, we can recommend an appropriate system of health surveillance.

Drug and alcohol testing

If you have any concerns about drug or alcohol use in your workplace, don’t hesitate to check it out. This complex area requires specialist advice, and we are qualified providers of drug and alcohol testing. We can also help you design a drug and alcohol policy to protect your workers and your business.

Ill-health retirement

Many employees are covered by a pension scheme with an ill-health retirement option. It’s never an easy option to take, but we can offer advice on whether it’s the right one. We can also assess whether it’s possible to continue in the workplace with some adjustments.

Policy development

As experts in work and health, we can advise on any issues you may be having. For example, if you’ve identified problems with sickness absence, want to set up a new employee wellbeing scheme, or need advice on the health risks or a specific chemical or process – we can help.

If you need help with occupational health but are not sure where to begin, get in touch! Please contact Dr Chris Edmond at or visit our website for more information on our services.

We are delighted to offer a discount on all of our services to Law At Work’s clients. Contact your LAW business partner for more information.

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