Looking af­ter well­be­ing of staff within the work­place

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Analysis & Company Report - By Dr Tony Mc­gread Con­tact OHRD at Princes House in Belfast on 028 9026 8460

We have all ei­ther said it or heard it many times, “where would you be with­out your health… sure isn’t your health your wealth”.

These are say­ings as old as the hills and, who knows, maybe as far back as Stone Age time when work in ex­change for goods or ser­vices was known to have ex­isted (10,000-6,000 BCE). So maybe even the era of the ‘Flint­stones’ recog­nised that ‘man­ag­ing health en­ables busi­ness’.

This means man­ag­ing health both at the in­di­vid­ual level — we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to man­age our own health and well­be­ing — and in so­ci­ety, guided by good govern­ment in the form of Public Health strate­gies and de­liv­ered via lo­cal health ser­vices, both pri­vate and public.

How­ever, the em­ployer has a fun­da­men­tal role in this. That is, they have an in­put into how health is man­aged at work, both at an in­di­vid­ual and a cor­po­rate level. This is par­tic­u­larly true when re­struc­tur­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion or in­tro­duc­ing other or­gan­i­sa­tional changes, when the health im­pact can and should be an­tic­i­pated and man­aged. At each of these lev­els a qual­ity oc­cu­pa­tional health service can be in­valu­able.

For the em­ployer of course there should be a clear busi­ness in­cen­tive to do this when mea­sured against the ‘ bottom line’.

But the em­ployer is also guided by leg­is­la­tion in the form of Health & Safety at Work Order (North­ern Ire­land) and equal­ity law, in­clud­ing the Dis­abil­ity Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act (2005). In my ex­pe­ri­ence, many em­ploy­ers also would like to be in a po­si­tion to “do the right thing”. That is, there may be an al­tru­is­tic el­e­ment to man­ag­ing health at work.

All in all, I be­lieve cre­at­ing a work­place cul­ture that puts health-re­lated is­sues at its core is a vi­tal prin­ci­ple of good busi­ness.

In ef­fect, the em­ployer should con­sider all of these is­sues and take a strate­gic de­ci­sion, us­ing ex­pe­ri­enced oc­cu­pa­tional health pro­fes­sion­als in do­ing so.

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