Occupational Health News & Alerts - Archived News - 2017


Managing Menopause in the Workplace

Managing Menopause in the Workplace

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine has released guidance on menopause in the workplace. This guidance is aimed at women going through menopause and experiencing the impact it has on their working lives. It also offers employers practical guidance on how to improve workplace environments for menopausal women.

Menopause is often a hidden health concern for working women. So, it is important that workers of all ages are better informed about how to confidently manage health issues such as this in their workplaces. The guidance provides straightforward suggestions about what employers and line managers can do to help, as well as tips for women themselves in how to cope.

The menopause is increasingly being widely recognised as a potential problem and is no longer ‘taboo’. Serious problems only affect a minority of menopausal women, and even then only temporarily. But for those affected it can be very unpleasant. More awareness and some simple changes, many that women themselves have recommended, could make their working lives during this time much easier.

Find out more at: http://www.fom.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Guidance-on-menopause-and-the-workplace-v6.pdf

Healthwork Advice and Discussion

The symptoms of menopause can adversely affect the quality of both personal and working life of women. At work, they can cause embarrassment, diminish confidence and can be stressful to deal with. The menopause may be compounded by the development of other health conditions, as well as coinciding with caring responsibilities for ageing parents and relatives. 

Employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of all their employees, but there are also clear business reasons for proactively managing an age-diverse workforce. Some employers have been slow to recognise that women of menopausal age may need specific considerations and many employers do not yet have clear processes to support women coping with menopausal symptoms.

These practical guidelines aim to help women experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, and to support them and their colleagues and managers in tackling the occupational aspects of menopausal symptoms.

The management of gender-specific health issues other than pregnancy are rarely discussed in the workplace. Employers can recognise that some women may be reluctant to have discussions about their experience of the menopause with their manager and the impartial input of an occupational health professional can be very useful.

Healthwork clinicians are well-versed with the Faculty of Occupational Medicine's guidance. We routinely provide advice on measures to support women with such symptoms to manage at work. Our clinicians can perform assessments of working women dealing with symptoms of the menopause. 

If you would like further details on how Healthwork could assist you in this area, visit our website www.healthworkltd,com or alternatively contact us on 01618319701.

Fitness to Drive – Reporting Concerns to the DVLA/DVA

Fitness to Drive – Reporting Concerns to the DVLA/DVA:

The General Medical Council has released guidance for doctors in relation to ‘Confidentiality: patients’ fitness to drive and reporting concerns to the DVLA/DVA’. The guidance states that patients may often avoid reporting symptoms to doctors, if they think their personal information may be disclosed by doctors without consent, or without the chance to have some control over the timing of the amount of information shared.

However, doctors and nurses decisions on fitness to drive are important, and although clinicians owe a duty of confidentiality to their patients, they also have a wider duty to protect the health of patients and the public. This explanatory guidance sets out the steps clinicians should take if a patient’s failure or refusal to stop driving might lead to a risk of serious harm to the patient or to the general public.  Clinicians should ask for a patients consent to disclose information.  If the patient refuses consent, disclosing personal information may be justified in the public interest.  The benefits to the individual need to be weighed up against the risks of death or serious injury.  Find out more at: www.gmc-uk.org/Patients__fitness_to_drive_and_reporting_concerns_to_the_DVLA_or_DVA.pdf_69092316.pdf

Healthwork Advice and Discussion:

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in England, Scotland and Wales and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland are legally responsible for deciding if a person is medically fit or unfit to drive. This means they need to know if a person holding a driving licence has a condition or is undergoing treatment that may now, or in the future, affect their safety as a driver. The driver is legally responsible for telling the DVLA or DVA about any such condition or treatment.

Clinicians should therefore alert patients to conditions and treatments that might affect their ability to drive and remind them to tell the appropriate agency.   In rare circumstances, the clinician may need to disclose personal information and breach confidentiality in the public interest.

Healthwork clinicians are well versed with the GMC guidance.  Our clinicians perform various fitness to drive assessments, and safety critical medicals.  We employ occupational health nurses and physicians who have all been fully trained in medical assessments and ethical issues.  Healthwork can perform and assist our customers with safety critical medicals, fork lift truck driver medicals, heavy goods vehicle and PSV statutory driver medicals, crane driver medicals and train driver medicals.

If you would like further details on how Healthwork could assist you in this area, visit our website www.healthworkltd.com or alternatively contact us on 0161 831 9701.


Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace

Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace:

According to Public Health Action, 167,000 years of working life were lost in 2015 due to alcohol and alcohol costs the UK between £21 billion and £52 billion a year.  In people aged 15-49 in England, alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for early death, ill health & disability.

Alcohol and drug testing programmes have grown as a result of practice transferred from the USA and elsewhere, and it is becoming more commonplace in the UK, particularly in safety-critical environments. Drug and alcohol testing is now more common whether as a pre-employment screen, random test, for cause test or as part of some regular medical assessments.

A significant proportion of adults who are at risk for problems with alcohol and illicit drug use are employed. The workplace provides good opportunities for public health interventions.

The alcohol health alliance had also supported Alcohol Concern’s dry January. Did anyone take part and if so we hope it was successful. Find out more: www.dryjanuary.org.uk 

Healthwork Advice and Discussion:

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on an employer to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees. This means an employer can be prosecuted if the employer knowingly allows an employee to continue working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  It is an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply or use of controlled substances on workplace premises except in specified circumstances (e.g. when they have been prescribed by a doctor).

Healthwork has fully trained occupational health nurses and physicians who have all been trained in screening for drugs & alcohol.  Healthwork recently ran an in house bespoke Drug and Alcohol screening training course (delivered by a highly reputable Toxicology Consultant).  Healthwork regularly assesses the competency of its clinicians to ensure they are up to date with all regulatory screening procedures and processes.

We provide a variety of drug and alcohol services such as collection services and analysis of results, alcohol breathalyser testing, scheduled and unscheduled drug and alcohol testing, Medical Review Officer services, case management of drug and alcohol cases, training for employees and managers, alcohol related health checks and wellness clinics, and strategic advice about policies and procedures for employers in relation to managing drug and alcohol issues in the workplace. 

If you would like further details on how Healthwork could assist you in this area, or are interested in attending our next planned training course, visit our website www.healthworkltd.com or alternatively contact us on 0161 831 9701.


Rochdale based firm fined £60,000 for failing to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Rochdale based firm fined £60,000 for failing to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS):

Hanson Springs a manufacturing company based in Rochdale has been fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £5,320 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge at Manchester Magistrates Court for breaching two health and safety laws for failing to protect its staff from injury caused by using power tools.

Seven of the company’s employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after becoming exposed whilst working on hand grinding machinery for up to an hour a day contrary to the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

The court heard that the company became aware of the problem and commissioned reports into this back in 2011 however, the Health and Safety Manager did not make the company bosses aware of the findings.  In 2013 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the company making a list of recommendations but later advised that not enough was done to improve the situation. 

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) results in numbness, tingling, poor grip and poor circulation in the hands.  Once the condition has developed, the damage is largely irreversible, although reducing or limiting the exposure to vibrating tools can prevent further damage or worsening of the condition.

Healthwork Advice and Discussion:

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 impose a duty on all employers to adequately assess the risks from possible vibrating tools such as hammer drills, pneumatic hammers, road breakers, chainsaws, chipping hammers, strimmer’s, sanders and grinders.  The Regulations expect employers to introduce risk reduction control measures to ensure the safety of their employees.  Health surveillance using a tiered approach is recommended in the Regulations to prevent employees developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Healthwork has fully trained occupational health advisors and physicians who have all been trained in assessing the risk of HAVS.

We are also an approved Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) provider of HAVS training and have successfully delivered a number of training courses in this area over the last couple of years.  Healthwork are currently running another 2 day HAVS training course on the 4th & 5th May 2017.

If you would like further details on how Healthwork could assist you in this area, or are interested in attending our next planned training event visit our website www.healthworkltd.com or alternatively contact us on 0161 831 9701.

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