As an employer in the UK, it is your legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of your employees while they are at work. Occupational health plays a vital role in meeting these duties, as it focuses on preventing work-related illnesses and injuries, promoting employee wellbeing, and supporting the management of health risks in the workplace. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of occupational health and provide guidance on how you can meet your duties as an employer.

Understanding Occupational Health

What is Occupational Health?

Occupational health is a multidisciplinary field that deals with the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of employees in relation to their work and the workplace. It aims to prevent work-related illnesses and injuries, promote healthy working practices, and support employees with health conditions to remain in or return to work. Occupational health professionals, such as occupational health physicians and nurses, work closely with employers to identify and manage health risks in the workplace.

Legal Obligations for Employers

In the UK, employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This includes:

  • Providing a safe working environment and safe systems of work
  • Conducting risk assessments to identify and control health hazards
  • Providing appropriate training, information, and supervision
  • Ensuring the safe use, handling, and storage of substances
  • Providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary

Employers must also adhere to other relevant legislation, such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which requires employers to assess and manage risks to their employees’ health and safety.

Implementing an Occupational Health Programme

Conducting Risk Assessments

To effectively manage occupational health risks, employers should conduct regular risk assessments. This involves identifying potential hazards in the workplace, assessing the risks associated with these hazards, and implementing control measures to minimise or eliminate the risks. Risk assessments should consider factors such as:

  • Physical hazards (e.g., noise, vibration, manual handling)
  • Chemical hazards (e.g., toxic substances, dust, fumes)
  • Biological hazards (e.g., infectious diseases, allergens)
  • Ergonomic hazards (e.g., poor workstation design, repetitive movements)
  • Psychosocial hazards (e.g., work-related stress, bullying, harassment)

Providing Occupational Health Services

Employers should consider providing occupational health services to support the health and wellbeing of their employees. These services can be delivered in-house or through external providers, such as London City Healthcare. Occupational health services may include:

  • Pre-employment health assessments
  • Health surveillance programmes (e.g., hearing tests, lung function tests)
  • Immunisations and travel health advice
  • Ergonomic assessments and advice
  • Health promotion and wellbeing initiatives
  • Absence management and return to work support

Training and Education

Employers should provide their employees with appropriate training and education on occupational health and safety. This may include:

  • Induction training for new employees
  • Job-specific training on safe working practices and equipment use
  • Manual handling training
  • First aid training
  • Mental health awareness training for managers

Regular refresher training should also be provided to ensure that employees remain up-to-date with health and safety procedures.

Encouraging Employee Engagement

Employers should actively involve their employees in occupational health and safety matters. This can be achieved by:

  • Establishing health and safety committees with employee representation
  • Conducting regular employee surveys to gather feedback on health and safety issues
  • Encouraging employees to report health and safety concerns
  • Involving employees in the development and implementation of health and safety policies and procedures

By engaging employees in occupational health matters, employers can foster a positive safety culture and ensure that health and safety remains a top priority in the workplace.

Working with Occupational Health Providers

Partnering with an occupational health provider, such as London City Healthcare, can help employers meet their legal duties and support the health and wellbeing of their employees. Occupational health providers can offer a range of services, including:

  • Occupational health assessments and medicals
  • Absence management and return to work support
  • Health surveillance programmes
  • Ergonomic assessments and advice
  • Employee wellbeing initiatives
  • Training and education for managers and employees

By working closely with an occupational health provider, employers can access specialist expertise and support to effectively manage health risks in the workplace and promote employee wellbeing.


Meeting your occupational health duties as an employer is not only a legal requirement but also an investment in the health, safety, and wellbeing of your workforce. By conducting risk assessments, providing occupational health services, training your employees, encouraging employee engagement, and partnering with occupational health providers, you can create a safe and healthy working environment that benefits both your employees and your organisation.

Remember, promoting occupational health is an ongoing process that requires commitment, resources, and regular review. By prioritising the health and wellbeing of your employees, you can reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and create a positive work culture that attracts and retains skilled workers.

This article has been written by London City Healthcare, a leading occupational health provider in the UK. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to supporting employers in meeting their occupational health duties and promoting employee wellbeing. We offer a comprehensive range of services, including occupational health assessments, health questionnaires, and fit for work assessments. For more information on how we can support your organisation, please contact us directly on 0207 236 3334.

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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