As an HR manager in the UK, one of your key responsibilities is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of your employees. Effective management of occupational health issues is crucial for maintaining a productive and thriving workplace. By proactively addressing health concerns and promoting a culture of wellness, you can reduce absenteeism, improve morale, and support your employees in reaching their full potential. In this article, we will explore some best practices for managing occupational health issues at work.

Understanding Occupational Health

What is Occupational Health?

Occupational health is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on promoting and maintaining the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of employees in the workplace. It involves the prevention, assessment, and management of health risks and conditions that may arise from work-related activities. Occupational health professionals, such as doctors and nurses, work closely with HR managers and employees to create a safe and healthy work environment.

Common Occupational Health Issues

Some of the most common occupational health issues that HR managers may encounter include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., back pain, repetitive strain injuries)
  • Mental health conditions (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression)
  • Respiratory problems (e.g., asthma, lung diseases)
  • Skin disorders (e.g., dermatitis, allergic reactions)
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Infectious diseases (e.g., COVID-19, flu)

These issues can arise due to various factors, such as the nature of the work, the work environment, and individual health conditions.

Developing an Occupational Health Strategy

Risk Assessment and Control

The first step in managing occupational health issues is to identify and assess the health risks present in your workplace. This involves conducting a thorough risk assessment, which includes:

  • Identifying hazards and potential sources of harm
  • Assessing the likelihood and severity of the risks
  • Determining who may be affected and how
  • Implementing control measures to eliminate or reduce the risks
  • Regularly reviewing and updating the risk assessment

By understanding the specific health risks in your workplace, you can develop targeted interventions and policies to mitigate them.

Health Surveillance and Monitoring

Health surveillance and monitoring are key components of an effective occupational health strategy. This involves regularly assessing the health of your employees to detect any work-related health issues early on. Health surveillance may include:

  • Pre-employment health screenings
  • Periodic health checks
  • Targeted health assessments for specific roles or exposures
  • Biological monitoring (e.g., blood tests, lung function tests)
  • Health questionnaires and surveys

By monitoring the health of your employees over time, you can identify any trends or patterns and take proactive steps to address any emerging health concerns.

Employee Education and Engagement

Engaging your employees in occupational health matters is crucial for fostering a culture of wellness and shared responsibility. This can be achieved through:

  • Providing regular training and education on health and safety topics
  • Encouraging open communication and reporting of health concerns
  • Involving employees in the development and implementation of health policies and initiatives
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviours (e.g., physical activity, healthy eating)
  • Offering employee assistance programmes and support services

By empowering your employees to take an active role in their own health and wellbeing, you can create a more resilient and engaged workforce.

Managing Sickness Absence

Absence Reporting and Recording

Effective absence management starts with having a clear and consistent process for reporting and recording sickness absence. This should include:

  • A clear absence reporting procedure for employees to follow
  • Accurate and timely recording of absence data
  • Regular analysis of absence trends and patterns
  • Confidential storage and handling of sensitive health information

By having a robust absence reporting and recording system in place, you can quickly identify any areas of concern and take appropriate action.

Return to Work Support

Supporting employees in returning to work after a period of sickness absence is a critical aspect of absence management. This may involve:

  • Conducting return to work interviews to discuss any ongoing health concerns or support needs
  • Making reasonable adjustments to the work environment or duties
  • Providing a phased return to work or flexible working arrangements
  • Offering occupational health assessments and advice
  • Regularly reviewing and adjusting support measures as needed

By taking a proactive and supportive approach to return to work, you can help your employees to successfully reintegrate into the workplace and minimise the risk of further absence.

Working with Occupational Health Providers

Partnering with an experienced occupational health provider, such as London City Healthcare, can provide valuable support and expertise in managing occupational health issues. Occupational health providers can offer a range of services, including:

  • Health risk assessments and audits
  • Health surveillance and monitoring programmes
  • Employee health screenings and vaccinations
  • Absence management and return to work support
  • Occupational health training and education
  • Employee wellbeing initiatives and support services

By working closely with an occupational health provider, you can access specialist knowledge and resources to help you effectively manage occupational health issues and promote a healthy and productive workplace.


Managing occupational health issues is a critical aspect of HR management. By taking a proactive and strategic approach, you can identify and mitigate health risks, support the wellbeing of your employees, and create a thriving and resilient workplace.

Remember, investing in the health and wellbeing of your employees is not only a legal and moral obligation, but also makes good business sense. By prioritising occupational health, you can reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and attract and retain top talent.

If you require further guidance or support in managing occupational health issues, consider partnering with a reputable occupational health provider, such as London City Healthcare. With their expertise and resources, you can develop and implement an effective occupational health strategy that benefits both your employees and your organisation.

This article has been written by London City Healthcare, a leading occupational health provider in the UK. We offer a comprehensive range of occupational health services to support HR managers and organisations in promoting employee health and wellbeing. From health surveillance and absence management to employee wellbeing initiatives, our team of experienced professionals is here to help. Contact us directly on 0207 236 3334 learn more about how we can support your occupational health needs.

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.

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