SEQOHS is the industry standard, used throughout public and private sectors, that provides independent assessment of the provider using standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Following the initial award of accreditation, accredited providers are required to demonstrate they have maintained the standards on an annual basis.
What is an Occupational Health (OH) service?
Health and safety legislation in the UK places a statutory duty on employers to keep their employees healthy and safe whilst in work, and in particular to manage risks in the workplace that are likely to give rise to work-related ill health.
In order to support employers with this duty and to identify the onset of or preferably prevent work-related ill health, suitably qualified and competent personnel are commissioned, the services of which are widely known as Occupational Health.
Occupational Health providers offer services that can extend to anything that relates to the interaction of health and work - how work can affect health and vice versa, and simply keeping people healthy and well during work, both physically and mentally. Many disciplines can contribute towards this, including occupational hygienists, who can identify and advise upon the control of chemical, physical and biological agents arising from workplace activity.
Occupational Health services can be delivered in various ways, subject to the size of the organisation, the workplace activities and associated hazards identified.
As a purchaser of OH Services, what should I look for?
In order to achieve SEQOHS accreditation, an Occupational Health provider needs to demonstrate that it deals fairly and ethically with purchasers, as well as being customer focused.
As part of this, providers are expected to communicate their fee structure in a clear and user-friendly way.
Providers should seek to understand your specific Occupational Health needs, and ensure ongoing familiarity with any occupational risks and hazards within your workplace.
A service level agreement (SLA) should be put in place. This is a contract between the service provider (either internal or external) and the end user that defines the level of service expected from the service provider. It should detail what services will be provided, and perhaps any that will not. It should include what resources are required and any business continuity plans needed to protect the service delivery.
The following should be clearly included in any agreement:
- The process for referral to the OH service.
- The process for reporting any identified RIDDOR reportable disease,
i.e. clearly stating the report is the responsibility of the employer.
- How your intellectual property would be protected
i.e. if any information was shared in order to deliver the OH service.
- Information regarding the OH records
i.e. ownership, storage, transfer at end of contract etc.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), so you know what to expect in terms of management information reports, timeframes for appointments, report turnaround etc.
If you just have an ad hoc requirement and do not want to enter into a full agreement, the Occupational Health provider should still be transparent regarding the fees, responsibilities and timeframes, and may provide Business Terms rather than an SLA.
What KPIs should I expect?
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. These can be agreed as part of the contract negotiation between the customer and the Occupational Health service provider.
What should an OH report look like?
Firstly, it is important that you are clear what you want from any referral made to an Occupational Health service provider e.g. what specific questions you would like them to answer.
You will need to seek agreement from the individual you are referring and ensure they understand the reason for referral and the process. The Occupational Health service provider should also provide sufficient information for the employee about consent, privacy and access rights, etc.
The report itself should be impartial and respond to each of your questions, and also include, where relevant:
- The work relatedness of any absence or condition, and where it is work related, whether others may be affected
- How the health condition is affecting the individual
- How this may impact on their work role
- Which tasks they can manage with their health condition
- What job tasks are difficult because of it
- Whether there any safety critical aspects which may be affected e.g. from physical restraints, effects of medication etc.
What is Health Surveillance?
Firstly, it is important that the Occupational Health service provider understands the requirements of health surveillance. They may enquire as to the hierarchy of controls, i.e. whether you have considered removing any hazards to health or controlling the risk, and whether personal protective equipment (PPE) is being used.
They should be clear what checks are to be included, the fees, the processes if any health problems are identified, whether any onward referral for further opinion is required, and if so what additional charges may apply, and what reports will be provided back to you.
It should be clearly agreed what information they will provide you with, both on an individual basis and any trend data. In other words, you need to know if any individual has been affected by work, and if so, what additional control measures may be required. The anonymised group data, which refers back to previous surveillance, provides you with information about the existing control measures and whether they are effective.
Further detailed information can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website
SEQOHS accreditation will have ensured the OHS have suitable processes in place to ensure the competency of the staff to undertake the checks, interpret the results, and that they have sufficient, suitably calibrated and maintained equipment.
Accredited OH Services
The full list of accredited OH services can be found on the SEQOHS website.