Benefits of occupational health to companies

New report reveals the value of occupational health to UK businesses and workers

We are often asked to show how Investing in occupational health can add value to an organisation. This can be not only by reducing the costs associated with ill health, but also by improving productivity and providing a ‘range of intangible benefits,’ a report for the Society of Occupational Medicine argues.

To download the three leaflets that have been produced alongside the report, please click on the following links:

Occupational health: A guide for company directors and commissioners of services

Occupational health: A guide for line managers and HR professionals

Occupational health: A guide for workers and their representatives

Lead and Asbestos Medicals

Infinity Occupational Health are pleased to be able to provide HSE appointed medicals in lead and asbestos, to protect the health of workers who are exposed to the substances. With modern working practices and surveillance together with medical assessment when needed, but the hope is that in time some of the related medical conditions will become a thing of the past. For more information please see pages regarding asbestos and lead.

Return to work following surgery

We are experienced in assessing occupational implications from a wide variety of surgical techniques and procedures.

We are experienced in assessing occupational implications from a wide variety of surgical techniques and procedures.

Occupational health practitioners are frequently asked for advice on fitness to return to work after surgery. Providing the best answer isn't always clear cut, and there is little evidence and often a lot of misunderstanding among patients and clinicians. There is a high level of variability between the time it takes different people to return to work after surgery and in addition to issues which are clearly medical there are often confounding issues such as non-scientific advice and inappropriate beliefs.


A study in the British Medical Journal asked a mixture of surgeons and GPs to recommend time off for adults in a variety of roles. There was a huge variation in answers, with a return to work after hernia surgery between 1-13 weeks (normal advice would be 1-2 weeks for manual work).


Another study looking at a group of 45 workers who underwent spinal surgery showed that 11 people returned to work on the next working day, many to adjusted duties and the average time to return to full duties was 2.5 weeks for light manual work and less than 6 weeks for heavy manual work. It is not uncommon for us to see patients who have been advised not to return to work for 6 months following such surgery.


Another study looking at return to work following carpal tunnel surgery showed that the time to return to work varied from 1 to 88 days and the recommendation of the surgeon had the strongest influence on the duration of absence.


Many surgeons give good advice regarding return to work and restrictions but in some cases this may not be evidence based and tends to often be overcautious, leading to a much longer period of absence than necessary. This can be a particular problem if long rest periods are recommended which can in turn lead to substantial deconditioning with weight gain and often difficulty for the patient regaining pre-surgery fitness.


There are 3 main fitness issues to consider after an operation. These are capability (the ability to get to work and physically cope), the second is safety (will they be harmed or cause harm to others by going to work and doing any particular activities), the third being motivation (how well they cope with pain, if they want to return or are seeking time away from work).
This requires a complex and individualised assessment which we at Infinity Occupational Health are experienced at making.

This requires the engagement of all parties and helping guide a patient back to work at an appropriate time, taking into account all of these factors. We use the best available evidence to guide us in this aim, ensuring patients do not return to work too early, and more commonly are enabled back to work sooner and with appropriate adjustments in place where needed.
If you require any further information, or would like to refer someone who has been absent from work following surgery, or is due to have surgery in the near future then please of course get in touch and we would be more than happy to help.

 

Hand-arm vibration syndrome

A wide variety of tools causes hand-arm vibration syndrome

A wide variety of tools causes hand-arm vibration syndrome

Doing a number of hand-arm vibration tier 4 assessments reminded me of the importance of the condition, which (despite modern screening and restrictions) can be an important (and preventable) cause of disability in employees.

Hand-arm vibration (HAV) can cause vibration white finger, a permanent and painful numbness and tingling in the hands and arms, also painful joints and muscle weakening. There is also evidence that it may cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hand-held portable power tools (e.g. grinders, jackhammers, polishers) transmit vibration into the hands and arms. Employers should only purchase tools that have been designed and constructed to reduce the risk of vibration, and are suitable for their intended use. Training and information on how to use them safely should be provided.

Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to permanent health effects. This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job. Occasional and/or infrequent low exposure is unlikely to cause ill health.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations place duties on employers and the self-employed to assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration.

Our assessment of hand-arm vibration (tier 4) will:

  • Take a history regarding a person's symptoms
  • Assess the blood vessels, nerves and function of the arms
  • Decide whether there is enough evidence to diagnose hand-arm vibration syndrome
  • Advise on continued exposure and whether the person is fit for work with or without adjustments

Further advice can be found on the HSE website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/index.htm

Up and running

I am really pleased to say our website is up and running!  As Managing Director of Infinity Occupational Health, I am really looking forward to continuing to help both employers and employees across South Wales. Please get in touch if you have any questions, and any suggestions regarding our new look website would be really appreciated.
Best wishes,
Owen