Maintaining health and wellness at work for University staff.
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Health referrals to the Occupational Health Service enable us to effectively and proactively manage the possible impact of health issues on attendance or performance at work, helping us to keep employees healthy and able to continue working.
We aim to provide a clear opinion on:
- Fitness for work
Whether or not the employee has a health problem that may affect their fitness for work, or issues at work affecting their health.
- Return to work
If the employee is currently absent, when they are likely to be ready to return.
- Rehabilitation advice
Measures that may enable the employee to return to work before full recovery including temporary adjustments to hours or duties.
- Future attendance
How much absence is likely in future due to health problems and whether the employee fit to undertake all duties.
Guidance for managers
Managers lead the referral process for members of staff. Our assessments and reports provide independent and objective advice to managers to help them support and deal fairly with employee health issues, whilst balancing work requirements with the needs of the employee.
When to refer
A member of staff should be referred for an assessment when:
- they have had several episodes of short-term absences that cannot be managed locally,
- there is concern that they may have work-related health problems, or that existing health problems are being aggravated by work duties,
- they may have difficulties coping when they return after being absent, eg following a serious illness or disability,
- an underlying health factor may be contributing to performance issues,
- there is long term or continuous sickness absence (longer than four weeks),
- advice is required about early retirement on health grounds.
Before making a referral
Contact HR for support and to process this through the HR system, and optionally seek advice from Occupational Health about whether it is appropriate to make a referral.
After making a referral
Recommendations for workplace adjustments made in Occupational Health reports are subject to further consideration by managers, who will review each individual case with the context of operational requirements and the impact on others.
Guidance for staff
Health assessments can provide you with an opportunity to discuss concerns in confidence with an Occupational Health Adviser and receive advice for how to improve your health and reduce any impact on your work.
What to expect
During a consultation, you can talk about your health and the effects of any health problems on your work and home life. The adviser may visit the workplace to build a fuller picture for an accurate assessment. You may also be asked about other issues that impact your health and about any treatment you have received.
It's possible you will be referred to see the Occupational Health Physician for further advice and assessments, and in some instances, further supporting medical information will be requested from the your GP or treatment specialist, with your written consent.
It may also be necessary to review your health after a period of time to assess your recovery or response to treatment, before a firm opinion can be given on issues such as returning to work or full duties.
Workplace health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks for staff. This helps us to:
- protect employees from illness caused by exposure to health risks at work by detecting adverse health effects at an early stage,
- enable effective management of health risks by checking existing control measures are working,
- provide information on whether further measures are needed,
- comply with legal requirements,
- reinforce key health and safety messages to staff.
When health surveillance is needed
Obtaining information about employee health helps us protect them from health risks at work. However, this is not required for every member of staff. Health surveillance is necessary when:
- there is a disease associated with a substance in use, or
- it is possible to detect the disease or adverse change and be able to reduce the risk of any further harm to the individual.
In practice, this could mean:
- checking for asthma or dermatitis, or
- carrying out a lung function test or skin inspection.
Identifying the hazards
The first stage of any health surveillance programme is to identify the hazards to health in the workplace through a risk assessment. If the hazard cannot be completely controlled and risks remain, further steps need to be taken to protect employees, and one of which is to consider health surveillance.
Workplace hazards can include:
- biological agents,
- ionising radiation,
- solvents, fumes and dusts,
Referrals and appointments
The process for making an appointment is as follows:
- Risk assessment identifies the need for health surveillance,
- Employees are referred to the Occupational Health Service by school and service heads or school and service safety advisors completing a health surveillance referral form,
- Employees are contacted to make an appointment.
Records of health surveillance are maintained by the Occupational Health Service for a minimum period of 40 years. In most cases, no adverse health effects are found. However, in some cases, further investigations are required to assess any possible adverse ill health effects.
Adjustments may be advised to the workplace or for the individual such as further training, improved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or transferring to alternative work. Managers will be notified if actions are required.
Immunisations are available for employees who may be exposed to pathogens which have effective vaccines available. Whilst immunisations are not a substitute for good laboratory practice, they can provide an additional protective control measure against diseases.
Who can get immunisations
Immunisations are offered to employees and student groups:
- who are at risk of an occupationally acquired infection, indicated in a risk assessment, and
- when there is an effective vaccine available,
- after a manager or SSA has referred employees to the Occupational Health Service by completing an immunisation referral form.
Our advisers will plan immunisation schedules in accordance with the individual’s immunisation history and their vaccine schedules. Immunisation dates are held in each individual's confidential health records.
Referrals and appointments
Appointments can only be offered once an immunisation referral form has been submitted. The Occupational Health team will contact individuals to make appointments once the referral form has been received.
Research passports were designed by the NHS and the National Institute for Health Research as a system for issuing honorary research contracts (HRC). Research passports allow non-NHS researchers to carry out research involving patient contact and are usually study-specific and valid for three years.
Process for getting a research passport
Part of the research passport is a risk-based health assessment to determine fitness for working within the NHS.
If you have been informed by Human Resources or your Manager/Supervisor that you require health clearance for your research passport, complete the confidential health assessment questionnaire and forward this to the Occupational Health Service.
If further health information, blood tests or vaccinations are required, you will be contacted to make an appointment. In some cases, a referral to see the Occupational Health Physician may be necessary if a medical assessment or expert advice is required.
Once you have been cleared fit for working in the NHS, the Occupational Health Service will issue a health clearance form for you to add to your research passport.
Setting up your workspace (DSE)
Process for setting up a healthy workspace
When setting up your desk and display screen equipment (DSE), you should complete a workstation assessment with your local DSE assessor.
Follow the DSE and workstation guidance to set up your workspace correctly so you can stay healthy and comfortable.
What to do if you have health-related DSE problems
If you experience health-related DSE problems and require specialist advice, your DSE assessor can ask your line manager to make a referral to Occupational Health.
Night workers are offered health assessments by the University's Occupational Health Service, in accordance with the Working Time Regulations 1998.
If you regularly work for more than three hours between 11 pm and 6 am, you are classified as a night worker and will be offered an initial health assessment, plus further assessments annually.
Night work health assessment process
Night work health assessments are confidential, voluntary, and offered in addition to any other health assessment undertaken by Occupational Health.
The process is:
- your manager distributes health assessment forms each year,
- you complete the night workers health form,
- you return the form directly to the Occupational Health Service by post, fax or email to email@example.com, and
- questionnaires are processed by the Occupational Health team in strictest confidence.
What happens next
If we identify areas of special need in relation to night work:
- the questionnaires provide the basis for further, more detailed assessments,
- referrals for further medical advice may appropriate in some cases, with your consent, and
- following an assessment, a statement of fitness for night work will be issued to you and to your manager.
How to find more information
If you have any queries or have not received a questionnaire but would benefit from completing the assessment, contact your manager or an occupational health adviser.
Travel for work
Read our Occupational Health travel advice. This information relates specifically to work-related travel. For non-work travel health advice, contact your GP or travel clinic.
Learn more about our role in supporting workplace health.
More information about health surveillance for staff.