Occupational health is key to compliance

By Tony Mawson, director, Organisational Healthcare Ltd

Within the manufacturing and engineering industry, the use of Occupational Health (OH) should be a key consideration in looking after the workforce and ensuring compliance with best practice and legislation.

Often manufacturing and engineering environments have a range of hazards which can include, metalworking fluids, paints, solvents, welding fume etc.

All require careful management. Health surveillance, regular health checks on those undertaking certain processes, is a vital part of that management in ensuring that such hazards are under good control and robust compliance with Health and Safety legislation.

Musculoskeletal problems are very common and are an important contributor to performance difficulties and sickness absence.

Specialist ergonomic assessments can look at particular processes, e.g. in repetitive manufacturing/assembly work, helping in the design of the work and contributing to product quality and output together with minimising health risks.

Employees who undertake specific tasks such as drivers, working in confined spaces or at heights need particular attention to their fitness to undertake their role. An OH assessment will ensure employees are fit and reduce any risks to themselves, plant and others.

Recruiting the right people into your team is a multifaceted process but confirming that those you recruit are fit to do the role and not at risk of developing problems as a result is a key part. A suitable assessment program should be in place, related to specific role and risks.

The management of sickness absence is a crucial function in any organisation and OH support is often a valuable part – helping manage absence and advising on necessary adjustments is important. Similarly, managing concerns regarding performance, which may have a health dimension requires specialist advice. Wellness based health checks can also be beneficial, these provide an opportunity to promote health and wellbeing in your business which can be hugely valued by staff, helping create an engaged workforce.