Occupational health checks, also known as occupational health screenings or occupational health assessments, are essential components of workplace safety and employee well-being. These checks involve a series of evaluations, investigations and tests designed to identify potential health risks associated with work activities, promote preventive measures, and enhance overall employee health.

Purpose of Occupational Health Checks

Occupational health checks serve a variety of purposes, including:

  • Risk Identification and Assessment: Identifying potential occupational hazards and assessing the risks associated with specific job tasks or work environments.¹
  • Early Detection of Work-Related Illnesses: Detecting early signs of work-related illnesses, such as hearing loss, musculoskeletal disorders, or respiratory problems, allowing for timely intervention and prevention of chronic conditions.
  • Health Promotion and Lifestyle Interventions: Promoting healthy lifestyles and addressing modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall well-being.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Assisting organisations in complying with health and safety regulations related to occupational health and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses.

Types of Occupational Health Checks

There are various types of occupational health checks, each designed to address specific aspects of occupational health and safety. Some common types include:

  • Pre-Employment Checks: Assessing an individual’s fitness for a particular job role, considering physical demands, exposure to hazards, and pre-existing health conditions.
  • Periodic Health Checks: Conducting regular health checks for employees to monitor for potential health risks, identify early signs of work-related illnesses, and provide preventive interventions.
  • Health Surveillance: Conducting ongoing health monitoring for employees exposed to specific occupational hazards, such as noise, solvents, or hazardous substances.
  • Return-to-Work Evaluations: Assessing an individual’s readiness to return to work after an absence due to a work-related injury or illness.²

Case Study: Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in a Manufacturing Setting

A manufacturing company implemented a comprehensive occupational health check program to address the high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among its employees. The program included:

  • Musculoskeletal Risk Assessment: Conducting a thorough assessment of workstations and work tasks to identify ergonomic risks that could contribute to MSDs.
  • Employee Education and Training: Providing training to employees on proper ergonomics, posture, and lifting techniques to prevent MSDs.
  • Individualised Interventions: Offering individualised ergonomic interventions, such as adjustable workstations or specialised equipment, to address specific risk factors for each employee.
  • Regular Monitoring and Evaluation: Regularly monitoring the effectiveness of interventions and conducting periodic health checks to assess the impact on MSD incidence.

As a result of these measures, the prevalence of MSDs among employees significantly decreased, reducing pain and discomfort, improving productivity, and lowering healthcare costs.

Occupational Health Clearance

Occupational health clearance, also known as pre-employment clearance or occupational health screening clearance, is a process of evaluating an individual’s fitness for a particular job role to ensure they can safely and effectively perform the required tasks. This process typically involves a series of assessments, including:

  1. Medical history review: Reviewing the individual’s medical history to identify any pre-existing health conditions that may pose a risk in the workplace.
  2. Physical examination: Conducting a physical examination to assess the individual’s physical fitness, strength, endurance, and any limitations that could affect their ability to perform the job duties.
  3. Occupational health assessment: Assessing the individual’s exposure to potential hazards in the workplace and evaluating their ability to tolerate these hazards.
  4. Psychological assessment: Assessing the individual’s mental health and psychological fitness for the job, particularly for roles that require high levels of stress or handling sensitive information.

The purpose of occupational health clearance is to ensure that:

  • The individual can safely perform the job duties without risk to themselves or others.
  • The individual can effectively meet the physical and mental demands of the role.
  • The individual is not at increased risk of developing work-related illnesses due to pre-existing health conditions or exposure to workplace hazards.

Occupational health clearance is often required for specific job roles, such as those in healthcare, aviation, or construction, where safety is paramount. It can also be beneficial for all new recruits to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

Occupational Health Screening

Occupational health screening is a broader term encompassing various evaluations and tests designed to identify potential health risks associated with work activities. It aims to promote preventive measures, enhance overall employee health, and detect early signs of work-related illnesses.

Occupational health screening can include a variety of assessments,³ such as:

  • Vision and hearing screenings: Assessing visual acuity and hearing thresholds to identify potential impairments that could affect job performance or safety.
  • Respiratory screenings: Evaluating lung function and respiratory health for individuals exposed to airborne hazards, such as dust, fumes, or chemicals.
  • Musculoskeletal screenings: Assessing musculoskeletal health and identifying risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among employees engaged in repetitive tasks or manual labour.
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol screenings: Checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels to assess cardiovascular health risks and identify potential modifiable risk factors.
  • Mental health screenings: Assessing mental well-being and identifying potential signs of stress, anxiety, or depression that could affect job performance and overall health.

Occupational health screening can be conducted periodically or as needed based on specific job roles or workplace hazards. The frequency of screening depends on the risk factors present in the workplace and the organisation’s occupational health policies.

Occupational Health Tests

Occupational health tests are specific diagnostic tests used to assess an individual’s health status or exposure to occupational hazards. These tests may be required for pre-employment clearance, occupational health screening, or to monitor the health of employees exposed to specific hazards.

Examples of occupational health tests include:

  • Audiograms: Measuring hearing thresholds to assess hearing loss.
  • Spirometry: Evaluating lung function to assess respiratory health.
  • Biomonitoring: Testing for the presence of hazardous substances in an individual’s blood, urine, or tissue.
  • Allergy testing: Identifying allergies to airborne substances, such as dust, mould, or chemicals, that could trigger respiratory problems.
  • Drug and alcohol testing: Screening for the presence of drugs or alcohol in an individual’s system.

Occupational health tests are typically conducted by qualified healthcare professionals and interpreted by occupational health physicians or specialists. The results of these tests are used to inform occupational health decisions and provide appropriate interventions for employees.


Occupational health checks play a pivotal role in safeguarding workplace health and well-being. By identifying potential hazards, promoting preventive measures, and addressing employee health concerns, these checks contribute to a healthier, safer, and more productive workforce. Organisations prioritising occupational health checks demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and reap the benefits of a healthier, more engaged workforce.

  1. Health Surveillance of Employees Exposed to Hazardous Substances: Guidance for Employers (2018) Available at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/health-surveillance/ [Accessed 7 December 2023].
  2. Return to Work for Employees with Work-Related Ill-health: Guidance for Employers (2015) Available at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/sicknessabsence/ [Accessed 7 December 2023].
  3. What are Occupational Health Assessments? Available at: https://www.jib.org.uk/what-are-occupational-health-assessments [Accessed 7 December 2023].

Speak to an Occupational Health professional today.

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Amun Kalia and Dr Deryk Waller