Guidance on Selecting an OH Service Provider

What sort of Occupational Health Service do I need?

To start the selection process first you need to determine what sort of Occupational Health Service you require. By carrying out the Health risk assessment for your employees, using CHAT and the matrix, you can identify what health surveillance is required for your employees by identifying what they are working with . 

If assistance is required CBH will help to identify the health surveillance/checks required 

Selection Process

Selecting an occupational health service provider (OHSP) can be a complex process for an organisation; factors to consider include not only the competency of the provider, i.e. do they have the necessary skills to provide you with the service you require and add value to your business, but also the size of company and geographical spread you require. For example, some small providers may not be able to resource a contract for a large workforce, whilst the personal approach of an independent occupational health advisor, or smaller provider may be preferable for smaller contractors.

CBH accredited OHSP's have gone through a process to determine if they can deliver to the industry standards, a list of these can be found by clicking here


Considerations

Before selecting an OHSP you first need to decide upon certain factors, for example: What OH services are required, these may include some or all of the following:

  • Pre-Placement Health Questionnaires / Assessments: Conducting pre-placement screening can help ensure that employees are fit for their proposed job role, whilst also meeting any obligations under the Equality Act and advising you of any reasonable adjustments that you need to make. By ensuring the persons health status matches the proposed job can help to prevent or minimise work accidents. Pre-placement screening can also help prevent and / or reduce the incidence of occupational disease and gives a baseline of an employee's health.
  • Health Surveillance: the OHSP should assist in the identification of work-related activities subject to health surveillance requirements and develop and implement a programme to address the identified needs. Health surveillance is likely to be required if your employees are at risk from:
    • Noise or Vibration
    • Solvents, dusts, fumes, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health
    • Asbestos, lead or work in compressed air
    • Ionising radiation
  • Fitness for Work Assessments: You may have a need to conduct statutory and / or recommended fitness for work assessments, i.e. if you have identified workers undertaking safety critical tasks.
  • Sickness Absence: You may also choose for an OHSP to help you manage sickness absence. Managing sickness absence proactively can help facilitate earlier return to work; where necessary advising on restricted or alternate duties; advising when an employee has reduced capacity to perform usual tasks hence meeting any obligations under the Equality Act and potentially prevent further work related ill health.
  • Lifestyle Screening / Wellness Programmes: The promotion of health and advice on lifestyle choices to maximise health and well being is considered good practice but is not mandatory. The benefits to your organisation through improved general health and well being of employees, includes reduction in sickness absence, increased productivity and potentially reducing the risk of incidents/accidents. You should feel confident that the lifestyle / health promotion services provided are appropriate and do not result in unnecessary costs and inconvenience.
  • Size / Location / geographical spread: The size of the organisation requiring OH services will be a key factor in choosing an OHSP, for example a small organisation based in one location may choose to contract with an OHSP consisting of an occupational health advisor with the support of an OH physician as and when required. Where the organisation has many employees with a large geographical spread, a national provider of occupational health services may be more appropriate. It is therefore important that the OHSP selected has sufficient resources to meet the service level requirements.
  • Equipment: The OHSP should have the appropriate equipment for conducting health assessments etc and should be able to demonstrate it is in good working order and calibrated/serviced as per manufacturers guidelines.
  • Facilities - mobile unit / private room: You should consider whether you wish for your employees to be seen by the OHSP at your own site, if so, do you have a suitable room where privacy can be maintained; adequate facilities fit for purpose i.e. toilet and hand washing? Alternatively some OHSP's operate a mobile unit, this is normally a fully equipped vehicle which is brought on to site, the only requirements being an electrical supply, an accesible place to park, close to welfare facilities and can be situated in a quiet area away from loud sources of noise. If this is not suitable for your site it may be possble for health checks to be undertaken at the OHSP premises.
  • Storage of records: Occupational Health records remain the property of the Employer but must remain confidential to Occupational Health professionals only. You should therefore decide whether you have suitable storage facilities, i.e. a locked, fireproof cabinet, within a locked room? Alternatively does the OHSP have storage facilities when they can safely store them on your behalf?
  • Philosophy of the OHSP: You should consider the philosophy and scope of the service the OHSP provide. An OH service that is based upon a health risk management approach is preferable, with the OHSP being keen to assist in identifying any risks to health through risk assessment and advising on control measures that you should consider.
  • Service level agreements (SLA’s): These should be agreed prior to contracting with an OHSP, matters for consideration include: the turnaround time of referrals and pre-placement health questionnaires, how soon after an assessment you should expect to receive a report and the availability of appointments.
  • Reports: Prior to contracting with the OHSP, you should be familiar with the following:
    • the type of reports you expect to receive and when
    • whether the information you receive will inform the risk management process, e.g. identifying where further control measures may be required
    • whether your obligations under COSHH will be met by the supply of individual health surveillance records
  • Costs: You should have a clear breakdown of the costs you are likely to incur and what is included in any prices quoted. You should be aware of likely additional charges such as GP/Specialist reports where individuals are referred.
  • Confidentiality: You should be reassured that any OHSP you contract with will remain professional and within the bounds of medical confidentiality, that they meet their obligations under the Data Protection Act and the Access to Medical Records Act.

Contracting with the OHSP

Alternatively you may choose to invite tenders for the provision of occupational health services, stipulating the type of service you require. When you have selected an OHSP and determined the SLA’s, you need to establish a written contract with them.