Introduction to UEA Staff Occupational Health
The Occupational Health Department of the University Medical Service is contracted to provide occupational health services to UEA staff. Our service is independent, impartial and totally confidential.
In line with national guidelines and standards we seek to assist the university to maximise the health and fitness of their workforce. We do this by;
- assessing the individual’s health on commencement of employment initially using a health questionnaire
- recommending adjustments that may assist individuals to reach their potential at work
- accepting management referrals to advise on fitness for work, adjustments and/or return to work programmes
- undertaking workstation assessments at the request of management
- providing health surveillance to ensure individuals are adequately protected in high risk areas
- providing immunisations to protect individuals where appropriate
Staff - New Employee Assessments
Under Health and Safety legislation the university is obliged to ensure that it does not put employees health at risk or aggravate existing medical conditions.
Under the Equality Act and Disability Discrimination Act, the university is also expected to make reasonable adjustments to enable employees with disabilities to fulfil their job description. In order to comply with this legislation, all new employees will undergo an occupational health assessment.
- On acceptance of a job offer made by the university, Human Resources (HR) will send the individual an occupational health (OH) assessment form. Upon completion, this should be returned to the OH department.
- This OH form will be treated in the strictest confidence and will be reviewed either by an OH nurse Advisor (OHA) and/or an OH Physician. The OHA will either clear the individual immediately or will require further information.
- If cleared - a certificate to this effect will be sent to HR. This certificate will not contain any medical information but may make recommendations for adaptions to the workplace.
- If not cleared - a certificate will be sent to HR advising that further information is required. Again this certificate will not contain any medical information. HR will write to the individual requesting they contact OH for a telephone assessment.
Health Issues, Personal Problems and Stress
Health issues, personal problems, interpersonal relationships and stress can all impact on an individual's ability to function at work. There may be periods in an individual's work life where they are not able to function as satisfactorily as usual. A referral to OH may be appropriate in these circumstances.
- If the line manager identifies the need for a referral, following discussion with the member of staff, the manager should approach HR and request a referral to OH.
- OH can not accept self referrals direct from members of staff
- Members of staff who feel a referral to OH would be of benefit, should approach their line manager and request a referral.
- Members of staff who feel it is inappropriate to approach their line manager directly may approach their HR manager in confidence and request a referral.
Health Surveillance (Health Protection at Work)
Health surveillance is about systematically looking out for signs of work-related ill health in employees exposed to certain health risks. Every job has an element of risk, but some more so than others. Staff starting new jobs in positions that may have an increased risk will be risk assessed by their line manager and if appropriate referred to OH for health surveillance.
This may include some or all of the following:
- Lung function test
- Hearing test
- Skin assessment
- Head/Arm vibration assessment (HAVs)
- Forklift truck medical
- Confined space medical
- Working at heights medical
- Nightworker assessment
- Post COSHH risk assessment appointment
- Blood tests when biological hazards exist
- Members of staff requiring any of the above services that have not been identified through the health risk assessment process, should discuss the matter with their line manager who will advise which of the following questionnaires should be completed and arrange a referral if appropriate (click to download);
For further information: HSE Health Surveillance and Health Risk Assessment
Sickness absence can have a damaging impact on any workplace and on the individual concerned. OH can play a role in supporting staff who experience high levels of absence or who experience situations at work that impact on their health. OH will liaise with the HR manager to ensure that all possible adjustments and support are implemented to reduce the need for sickness absence.
- Management referral - Staff who feel a referral to OH may be of benefit, should, if possible, discuss the matter with their line manager, who will then arrange a referral through HR. OH can only accept referrals direct from HR managers. An individual may be advised by their line manager that a referral to OH is recommended and that they will be referred through HR.
- Self referral - staff wishing to be seen by OH but feel they are not able to discuss it with their line manager, should approach their HR manager in confidence. OH can only accept referrals direct from the HR manager.
- Ill-health retirement - Should it be impossible for an individual to return to work, OH may recommend to HR that ill-health retirement be considered if the criteria can be met. HR will then institute the ill-health retirement process.
Return to Work & Rehabilitation
After a long period of absence, returning to work can be a difficult time for staff. OH can work with management to develop a realistic 'return to work' and 'rehabilitation programme' that will support the employee and benefit the department.
- If an individual's sickness absence exceeds 4 weeks, they may be referred by HR for an appointment. The aim of this appointment is to assess whether any adjustments will need to be made prior to their return to work.
- Once an individual has a date to return to work, OH will advise HR of any phased return programmes that are recommended and any modifications or adjustments that may enable the individual to return to work safely and quickly.
- HR will advise the individual's line manager who will assess that suggested adjustments are reasonable within that department, and if so, implement them.
- OH will usually continue to review the individual until confident that they can cope with their regular workload. With the individual's consent, OH will report back to HR following each review.
In many workplaces there are risks which may effect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers and their child. Working conditions normally considered acceptable may require adjustment during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The law requires employers to assess risks to new and expectant mothers in the workplace.
- An initial risk assessment will be undertaken by the member of staff and their line manager. The documentation for this risk assessment is available from HRD.
- Depending on the outcome of the risk assessment, further advice may be required from an OH advisor.
- The assessment should be repeated when the member of staff returns to work following the birth.
For further information: HSE New and Expectant Mothers at Work
These assessments provide a risk assessment of workplaces to ensure appropriate comfort and compliance by employers to ergonomic requirements laid down by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
All members of staff who work at computers for a significant part of their working day should attend display screen equipment (DSE) training. This is available through the University Safety Services department:
- Initial assessments of your workstation should be undertaken by the VDU assessor in your department. This should be repeated after any change to an individual's workstation.
- If this assessment highlights an issue or concern with an individual's health, then they should be referred to OH for a full workstation assessment. This referral must be approved by the individual's line manager.
- OH cannot accept workstation assessment referrals unless they are approved by the line manager.
- Following the workstation assessment the OHA will write a report to the individuals line manager and HR.
For further information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/
Under the Display Screen Equipment Regulations, members of staff that use computers in the workplace are entitled to have their eyes tested periodically by an optician at the expense of their employer.
- Individuals who want an eye test should contact HR and request the necessary form to take to their appointment with their optician in order to reclaim their expenses.
For further information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/