Occupational Health Assessment

Discuss your OH Assessment requirements today

At MCL Medics, we offer full Occupational Health Assessments, also known as a Management Referral. We also provide a range of occupational health services aimed at supporting your business and the well-being of your employees.

In order to get employees back to work as quickly and safely as possible, early intervention is essential. If an employee has been off sick for more than six weeks, the chances of them returning to work are often significantly reduced. In cases like these, it’s important to support the employee by providing an Occupational Health Screening and an OH Report.

Our skilled and experienced occupational health team will work with your company to resolve even the most difficult and sensitive cases, whilst always considering the business priorities and culture.

We have a range of options to carry out an Occupational Health Assessment, including:

  • Face-to-face assessments at our clinics
  • Online assessments via our mobile secure video app
  • Developing a return to work plan
  • Via telephone

Occupational Health Assessments and ongoing case management via secure video contact have proven to improve employee retention, and have a very high uptake with our clients.

Book an Occupational Health Assessment today by completing the contact form below, and a member of our team will be in contact shortly to start the process.

What is an occupational health assessment?

An employee may be referred to an occupational health provider for an independent occupational health assessment where there is concern about their health, work performance (where there may be health implications) or number of sickness absences. 

Occupational health assessments are also known as sickness absence referrals, return to work assessments or management referrals. 

The employee’s GP, whilst understanding the health issues and their patient, may not understand the work processes or the hazards present in the workplace. More importantly, the patient/Doctor relationship is primarily based on the GP being supportive of their patient, and making decisions about employment difficult due to conflicting interests between work and health.

An independent occupational health assessment, by a qualified nurse or doctor who has an additional qualification and experience in occupational health, is a way of obtaining a work-focused, objective and medically competent opinion. This is particularly important for high-risk work, when long-term capability is in question, or the situation is complicated with domestic issues and/or conflicts with management.

When should we organise an occupational health assessment?

An occupational health assessment can be organised at any time including where:

  • There is concern that the employee may have work related health problems or that their health is being aggravated by work tasks
  • The employee has difficulty coping on return after being absent, following a serious illness or injury or due to a disability
  • There may be underlying ill health or disability contributing to performance issues
  • There is long-term sickness absence, or frequent sickness absences within a short time period

The assessment can take place via secure video link, telephone, or face to face; depending on the nature of the health issue. Many conditions can be discussed over a secure video link.

How do we make a referral to occupational health?

If you are concerned about an employee in your care and wish to make a referral for an occupational health assessment, these are the steps you will be required to take.

  • The reason for the referral must be discussed with the employee, and where possible, their signed consent obtained.
  • If it is not possible for the employee to sign the consent form, but they have agreed to the referral (for instance, if they are absent from work) then a copy should be sent to the employee at the same time as confidentially forwarding it to occupational health.
  • Discussion and agreement with the employee regarding who else may require access to the occupational health report once received should take place prior to the referral.
  • An occupational health Assessment Referral Form, provided by MCL Medics’ booking team, must be completed by the referring manager, and returned to the booking team.

Occupational Health Assessments (OHAs) are evaluations conducted to identify any potential hazards or risks to an individual’s health in relation to their work environment. The assessments can be customised to suit your organisation’s and the employee’s specific needs and are carried out by qualified occupational health professionals. They make it easy for you to start creating a plan for supporting the health and well-being of your workforce.

Multiple types of occupational health assessment vary depending on the nature of the industry and work environment. Some of the main ones include the following:

Occupational Health Assessment Types

Pre-Employment Health Screening

A pre-employment assessment, also called a pre-placement health assessment, screening, or check, is conducted by an occupational healthcare provider before the employee accepts an offer of employment.

Some roles will require an assessment to be completed before a job is offered because of the area of the work, fitness standard and risks.

The assessment consists of questionnaires and medical examinations. A questionnaire helps determine if there is any problem and if further assistance is required. If the questionnaires find any issues requiring further investigation, the employee may undergo a medical examination.

The pre-employment assessment aims to establish baseline health records for comparisons, assess how the job may affect employees’ health, make reasonable adjustments for a better working environment, and ensure the medical fitness of the employees.

Health Surveillance

Health surveillance involves monitoring employees’ health when exposed to various workplace hazards such as noise, hazardous substances, or vibration. The surveillance covers multiple types of checks and monitors employees’ health. Some of the risks covered include:

  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Ionising radiation
  • Hazardous substances like solvents, fumes, dust and biological agents

These health surveillance checks can help detect ill health effects early, followed by control measures to prevent them from worsening.

Health surveillance can be required in some organisations depending on the employer’s risk assessment findings.

Health checks can help employees understand the risks they may be prone to, and they can highlight the symptoms they may have to the employer. Some common Health Surveillance Assessments include:

  • Lung functions tests
  • Hearing tests
  • Skin checks
  • Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) checks

Fitness for Work Assessments

Fitness for work assessments or examinations evaluates employees’ fitness to perform their job safely and securely. The assessment can be conducted periodically or in response to changes in the employee’s health status, workplace environment and work duties.

Fitness for work assessments differs from pre-employment assessments in that they are carried out regularly to assess employees’ working lives. Also, some roles require fitness for work assessments as a legal requirement to maintain the position.

The fitness for work assessment aims to determine if an employee is medically fit to perform their task effectively and safely.

Additionally, the assessment may be required when an employee has a physical condition that may:

  • Prevent or hinder them from performing the job effectively
  • Pose a risk to others in the workplace
  • This could be made worse by the job activity
  • Make specific tasks and work environments unsafe for them and others

Roles require higher physical and mental capacity and fitness for work assessments. Some of the roles that may require a Fitness for Work Assessment include those that involve:

  • Working at heights
  • Working in confined workspaces
  • Working in extreme temperatures and extreme weather
  • Driving operations
  • Lone working
  • Driving heavy goods vehicles
  • Piloting commercial aircrafts
  • Crane operation
  • Forklift truck operation
  • Night shift work

Return-to-Work Assessments

Return-to-work assessments are often undertaken after a sickness absence; sometimes, they can be tied with fitness assessments. The assessment determines the employee’s readiness to resume work duties.

It also helps the employer understand the nature of the absence and determine if adjustments are necessary to ensure the job is carried out safely and effectively while addressing any issues that may result in further sickness absences.

This assessment is vital because it assists employees in getting back to the workplace while having the support they need to carry out their roles.

Workstation Assessments

These are also known as ergonomic assessments. These evaluations assess a workstation’s design and setup, ensuring it suits the individual’s needs and minimizes the risk of musculoskeletal disorders or other work-related injuries.

The workstation assessment can lead to recommendations, including seating, desk height and computer equipment.

Stress Risk Assessments

Occupational health professionals can support a business in conducting stress risk assessments, which can help determine factors in the workplace that may cause employees to experience mental health issues.

Employers are legally responsible for protecting their workers from stress and its impact on health. As an employer, you must:

  • Evaluate the risk of stress amongst your staff members
  • Take action to remove the risk
  • Mitigate the risk as much as you can find removal is not possible

These assessments help employers identify and manage areas of work design that can affect stress levels. They also help you decide whether you have done enough or should do more to prevent stress in the workplace.

Occupational Health Assessments play a vital role in safeguarding employees’ health and well-being, promoting a safe and healthy work environment, and facilitating the effective management of occupational health risks.

Occupational Health Assessment is a key part of Management of Sickness Absence

The management of sickness absence is primarily a management function, with businesses requiring an agreed policy on sickness absence. Furthermore, this policy should be comparable with current legislation and agreed by unions and/or employee representatives. 

It is important that within the sickness absence policy, there are clearly defined steps to be taken where you require the assistance of MCL Medics.

We understand that employees who are absent through ill health, or whose health is affecting their performance, can lead to extra demands on colleagues or the business. Equally, we also understand that managers require help in ascertaining if a health problem will impact an employee’s ability to work, now or in the future.

There is robust evidence that early intervention can help to facilitate a return to work, which is normally the best outcome for both employees, and business owners.

Our approach to occupational health incorporates evidence-based concepts of vocational rehabilitation. These include:

  • Identifying obstacles to work participation
  • Developing a return to work plan
  • Providing work-focused information
  • Coordinating the key players (person-workplace-worker)

The assessment can take place via secure video link, telephone, or face to face; depending on the nature of the health issue. Many conditions can be discussed over a secure video link, which is one of the services that we offer at MCL Medics

OH Assessment FAQ’s

To get the best advice from the occupational health clinician, the referral will need to include enough detail for an appropriate assessment to be made. This will help the clinician understand the nature of the employee’s work, advise whether any aspects might be affecting their health and consider any modifications or adjustments which may enable the employee to safely do their job.

Completion of the occupational health referral form provides the clinician with essential information, and you should ensure that you include:

  • Information on the problem and how it is affecting the employee’s work/duties
  • The questions you would like answered
  • A clear description of the employee’s job and the main tasks within this. Different jobs require different capabilities. For example, think of the physical requirements needed to be a scaffolder as opposed to a receptionist
  • A copy of the employee’s job description

Our occupational health assessment referral form has been designed to assist in providing the information necessary for the clinician to carry out a comprehensive occupational health assessment. The form has been written to communicate the required information back to the referring manager, with a copy to be made available to the employee.

All documentation connected with the case, including the referral form, will have to be copied to the employee if they request to see them. This is in accordance with the GDPR subject access request process, and the GMC medical/ethics guidelines. It is good practice for the employee to know (or see a copy of) what is included in the referral form ahead of the consultation.

Specific contractual or non-medical questions (for example, whether an employee should be dismissed) should not be included in the management referral form. Occupational health clinicians provide advice in relation to health issues within the workplace, but the contractual implications of these health issues are a matter for management.

MCL Medics will not provide clarification on policy, procedures, or processes of your business practices:

  • Questions, such as, ‘Should this employee now be taken down the capability/disciplinary route?’ would be better phrased: ‘Are there any medical considerations that need to be taken into account should the business decide to follow a capability/disciplinary route?’
  • You shouldn’t include anything in the management referral form that you would not be happy for us to share with the employee.

The function of an occupational health assessment is to offer the employer appropriate advice and to address any specific management concerns raised at the referral stage. The assessment also provides the employee with an opportunity to discuss any health concerns in confidence with an occupational health clinician, and receive advice on what they can do to improve their health and/or attendance at work. The occupational health clinician will conduct the assessment and produce a comprehensive, unbiased report.

The assessment can provide a clear opinion on:

  • Whether the employee has an underlying health condition or disability that may affect attendance or performance at work, and if so, the likely effects on future attendance/performance
  • If/how to support the employee during their absence
  • Whether time off work will be required for appointments/treatments
  • When the employee may be likely to return to work
  • Recommendations on how management can assist during a return to work
  • Advice regarding any workplace restrictions/adaptations
  • Whether the disability provision of the Equality Act is likely to apply

This should enable the employer to deal with any problems in a fair, consistent manner, whilst balancing the needs of the employee with work requirements. Any recommendations on adjustments to duties etc are advisory only. It is for management to decide whether to implement them, or not.

The general approach MCL Medics takes is that anything significant that needs to be covered in a consultation must be in writing and the employee should be aware of anything included. Our clinicians cannot introduce information that is not documented, and so anything verbally discussed cannot be used in the consultation. Therefore, we generally discourage verbal exchanges of information.

The occupational health clinician will conduct the assessment and produce the report in an impartial manner. However, the clinician will not have a full knowledge of the background details or circumstances, and will have to rely upon the information provided beforehand, observations during the consultation or examination, and what the employee tells them.

The employee will provide their own perspective during the consultation, so it is important for the referring manager to provide sufficient and clear information during the referral process, so the clinician has a balanced viewpoint.

Reports concentrate on the effects of the health problems on work. Medical details are not usually disclosed unless necessary for managing the employee in their work and when they have given consent for disclosure.

Recommendations on variation to tasks or hours worked will typically be discussed with the line manager before a report is issued.

In line with the General Medical Council guidance, prior to the report being issued, the employee will be offered the opportunity to view a draft copy of the occupational health assessment report. Further consent will be obtained from the employee by the occupational health clinician, and that consent can be withdrawn at any stage of the process.

Occupational health records are maintained to the same high standard of confidentiality as hospital or GP medical records, in accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. An employee’s occupational health record will not be disclosed to anyone else outside occupational health without the employee’s informed consent.

The clinician only has access to what is available and provided at the referral stage, or anything the employee may take along to the consultation. For example, details of any medications they’re taking (name and dosage), names and addresses of any treating doctors and/or specialists, etc.

In some instances, it may be necessary to request further information from the employee’s GP and/or hospital specialist. If this is the case, the reason will be explained to the employee, and they will be asked to sign a consent form allowing their occupational health practitioner to approach their GP and/or hospital specialist for this information. Additional clinician time and cost would be incurred in this instance.

Under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 the employee has a right to see this report before it is sent to occupational health. Sometimes and with consent, the occupational health clinician may write to the employee’s GP giving information about the outcome of the occupational health assessment. This can be particularly helpful where there are clinical findings or work arrangements that the occupational health clinician believes their GP should be informed of.

Recommendations in the report are not binding. It is for the employer to assess whether the recommendations are practical and reasonable to implement for their organisation and circumstances. However, the advice is given by an experienced occupational health clinician and we recommend that employers give them serious consideration.

The clinician will provide an opinion on whether the Equality Act provisions will apply. However, it is a legal decision, and not a medical decision, made in a tribunal or higher court whether the Disability provisions of the Act apply or not. A legal decision would almost certainly have considered any medical opinions offered, and therefore the clinician’s opinion should count in this respect.

An employee cannot be forced to attend an occupational health assessment. It is therefore very important to explain in full to and engage your employee in why you wish to refer them for an occupational health assessment and what you want to achieve by doing so.

We would recommend that you try your best to encourage your employee to attend. Thereafter you need to explain clearly that any management decisions you will be making will therefore have to be made without expert occupational health clinician advice.

It is also advisable that this communication is clearly documented.

Once you have received the report, you should arrange to discuss the content, alongside any recommendations that have been made, with the employee. You can then decide what to action and agree on processes that will prompt a return-to-work programme that is in the best interests of both the employee and the employer.

Approaching an occupational health assessment positively helps to ensure that it will benefit both employer and employee.

If you would like to make an OH management referral on behalf of an employee, you can learn more by visiting our Management Referral service page. Or, to speak to an expert member of our team, you can either fill out the contact form below, or see our Contact page for a number of ways that you can reach us.

You may also like to browse our full range of occupational health services, or learn more about our industry-leading Employee Assistance Programme, which can help to reduce employee absences and the need for OH referrals.

For more details, please get in touch using the form below.

How can we help you?

Marketing Opt Out

We will use your information to respond to your enquiry. We would also like to contact you about other products or services that you may find of interest. If this is something you would prefer not to receive you can opt out of marketing by ticking the box below. For further information please see our privacy notice