Why is Occupational Health Important? 

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Occupational health, which aims to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of employees, is more important than ever in a post-Covid era.

Looking after employee health has never been more important and with the cost of living on the increase and more people than ever falling onto hard times and requiring short term loans and even loans with bad credit across the world, both physical and mental health care are more important than they have ever been.

What is occupational health?

Occupational health and safety is the practice of protecting employees in the workplace and making their place of work a safe space. While employees are at work, it is their employer’s responsibility to ensure that they are kept out of harm’s way including accidents, injuries, exposure to harmful substances or even away from things which are likely to negatively impact their emotional wellbeing.

The definition of ‘occupational health and wellbeing’ will vary depending on the place of work (source: NPH Group). For example, if the job is a manual job that involves equipment, adequate occupational health will include proper training to use the equipment and protective gear. If it is an office-based job, workplace hazards might be more difficult to define but are equally as important.

What types of things should you be protecting employees from?

There are a range of risk factors in any given workplace that you may need to protect employees from.

Aside from obvious things such as accidents or injury from tools or other equipment, physical risks could include things such as exposure to hazardous substances, repetitive strain injury, back pain or exposure to heat, light and noise. Also under the branch of occupational health is protecting your employees from stress or bullying and harassment.

Additionally, occupational health considers any possible long-term exposure to bacteria, viruses, asbestos, vapours, dust and other physical risks. If you are working in a job which has noise and vibration exposure, it should also be the employer’s responsibility to protect against adverse effects.

It is hugely important to protect your staff against psychological and social issues in the workplace such as stress, fatigue, sexual harrassment, violence and bullying.

What are the benefits of occupational health?

Prioritising occupational health in your company will not only benefit your employees but also your organisation at a company-wide level.

Here are just a few of the key benefits of prioritising occupational health in your workplace:

  • Improved productivity and staff efficiency – if there is less illness and injury in the company, there will be less absenteeism meaning that you have a more productive workforce
  • Lower costs – if there are fewer accidents and injuries, you can save a fortune on associated costs such as rehabilitation, healthcare and physiotherapy
  • Better staff morale – if you are prioritising staff health, they will feel more cared for and supported. Not only that, but if you are protecting them from stress and psychological hazards, your staff will be happier and subsequently more focused and committed.
  • Reduced staff turnover – if you are putting your employee health first, your staff will have more loyalty to the company and be less likely to be looking for other jobs.

How can you promote occupational health in your organisation?

There are many ways you can promote occupational health in your organisation and make it a priority.

Before setting up a business where you are hiring employees you will need to make sure that your occupational health policies comply with any laws and regulations. If there is any machinery or equipment involved in your work, you will need to make sure that staff is sufficiently trained. Additionally, if there is the need for any personal protection, you will need to make sure that this is provided at an appropriate level.

Aside from jobs involving manual labour, there are many other things you can implement to promote a healthy workforce. This includes proper posture, taking regular breaks, and any techniques to destress.

If any employee is ill, you can provide support by offering best practices on rehabilitation and making it easy for them to come back to work when they are ready.

At a larger scale, you can work to minimise public health risks such as smoking, substance abuse and obesity by encouraging healthy habits in the workplace.

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