For any employer of a staff force having access to occupational health services is essential. Billions of pounds a year are lost because of staff sickness and absence. But occupational health management isn’t just about sickness and absence; it covers other issues as well. Occupational health services also help to manage health and safety and planning for staff wellness which can assist with staff retention and productivity. They can also be useful in legal matters related to staff medical issues. There are now a number of private occupational health service providers such as Health Screen from which to choose. Choosing the right one is clearly a key issue and here are some tips on how to choose the right occupational health provider.

Why choose occupational health services?

A useful definition provided by the World Health Organisation is that occupational health is all about promoting and maintaining the well-being of staff. This extends to physical, mental and social well being. When looked at in this way it is easy to see how a healthy and happy staff group will be more productive than one that is not.

Be clear on what is needed

Obviously there is a big difference between a company that employees a dozen people and one that has a workforce of several hundred. Another major factor is the size of the company and the distribution of the workforce. This may require local occupational health services, or regional and even national. Having a very clear idea of exactly what number of people and area the OH service will need to cover is crucial at the start. It will also help to be clear on who will be making referrals to the OH service. If it will be several managers across several different sites this may require a different OH provider. There may be certain requirements of law and guidance that need to be met by the employer; the occupational health service provider will need to be able to deal with this as well as everything else. Another issue is whether the employer will need the OH Service to provide pre-employment screening for workers. All of this information should be gathered so that it can be presented to potential occupational health service providers.

Choosing an occupational health service provider

Occupational health service providers aren’t the sort to fit easily into lists like those for electrical services or haulage providers. One way to start to search for an OH service is to consult the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA). This is a Not for Profit organisation that can offer free information and also advise on OG providers in specific areas. Other ways of finding possible providers is through the internet of course or recommendation from other employers.

Discuss the needs

Initial discussion should give the potential provider as much information as possible about the services needed. The provider should then be asked to put in writing their understanding of those needs and how they would provide services to meet them.