Occupational health assessments are a crucial aspect of ensuring the well-being and safety of employees in the workplace. In the UK, employers have a legal duty to protect their workers’ health and safety, and occupational health assessments play a vital role in fulfilling this obligation. This guide will provide an overview of what occupational health assessments entail, their importance, and the various types of assessments available.

What are Occupational Health Assessments?

Occupational health assessments are evaluations conducted by qualified professionals to determine an employee’s fitness for work and to identify any potential health risks associated with their job. These assessments consider factors such as the employee’s medical history, current health status, and the specific demands of their role. The primary goal of occupational health assessments is to ensure that employees are fit to carry out their duties without putting themselves or others at risk.

Why are Occupational Health Assessments Important?

There are several reasons why occupational health assessments are essential:

  1. Legal compliance: UK employers are required by law to protect their employees’ health and safety at work. Occupational health assessments help employers meet this legal obligation.
  2. Early intervention: Assessments can identify potential health issues early on, allowing for prompt intervention and support, which can prevent the development of more serious conditions.
  3. Reduced absenteeism: By ensuring that employees are fit for work and addressing any health concerns, occupational health assessments can help reduce absenteeism and improve overall productivity.
  4. Improved employee well-being: Assessments demonstrate an employer’s commitment to their employees’ health and well-being, fostering a positive working environment and boosting morale.

Types of Occupational Health Assessments

There are various types of occupational health assessments, each designed to address specific needs and situations:

Pre-employment Assessments

These assessments are conducted before an individual starts a new job to ensure they are fit to perform the required duties. Pre-employment assessments typically involve a health questionnaire and, depending on the role, may include medical examinations or functional assessments.

Periodic Health Surveillance

Periodic health surveillance is carried out at regular intervals to monitor employees’ health over time. This type of assessment is particularly important for workers exposed to hazardous substances or engaged in physically demanding roles. Health surveillance can include medical examinations, vision and hearing tests, and lung function tests, among others.

Return to Work Assessments

When an employee has been absent from work due to illness or injury, a return to work assessment may be necessary to determine their fitness to resume their duties. This assessment will consider any adjustments or support the employee may need to safely return to work.

Ergonomic Assessments

Ergonomic assessments focus on ensuring that an employee’s workstation and work environment are set up to minimise the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These assessments may involve analysing the employee’s posture, equipment, and work practices to identify areas for improvement.

Conducting Occupational Health Assessments

Qualified professionals like occupational health nurses or physicians should conduct occupational health assessments. These professionals have the knowledge and expertise to evaluate an employee’s health in relation to their work and provide appropriate advice and recommendations.

When conducting an assessment, the occupational health professional will typically:

  • Review the employee’s medical history and any relevant medical records
  • Discuss the employee’s current health status and any concerns they may have
  • Consider the specific requirements and hazards associated with the employee’s role
  • Conduct any necessary medical examinations or functional assessments
  • Provide a report detailing their findings and recommendations

Implementing the Recommendations

Once the occupational health assessment has been completed, it is crucial for employers to act upon the recommendations provided. This may involve making adjustments to the employee’s workstation, providing additional training, or implementing support measures to ensure the employee can carry out their duties safely and effectively.

Employers should also ensure that they maintain open communication with their employees throughout the assessment process and when implementing any changes. This helps to foster a supportive and collaborative working environment where employees feel valued and their health and well-being are prioritised.


Occupational health assessments are a vital component of maintaining a safe and healthy workforce in the UK. By conducting these assessments, employers can ensure legal compliance, identify potential health risks early on, reduce absenteeism, and improve overall employee well-being. Employers should work closely with qualified occupational health professionals to carry out these assessments and implement any necessary recommendations to create a positive and productive working environment for all employees.

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr. Kalia helps to run the Occupational Medicine provision for London City healthcare and is a company doctor for one of the largest multinational companies based in the UK.

Outstanding Occupational Health Services

Get in Touch Today

Leave A Comment