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Recognising the Signs: When to Refer an Employee for Occupational Health Support

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environment, ensuring the well-being of your employees is paramount. One essential aspect of this is recognising when an employee may need the specialised care and support provided by occupational health services. Occupational health plays a crucial role in promoting a safe and healthy workplace, and knowing when to refer an employee for these services can make all the difference. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs that indicate it’s time to refer an employee for occupational health support.

  1. Frequent Absenteeism

One of the early signs that an employee might benefit from occupational health services is frequent absenteeism. If an employee consistently calls in sick or takes extended medical leaves, it could be an indication of underlying health issues or work-related problems that need addressing. Occupational health professionals can assess the situation and recommend appropriate interventions to help the employee get back to work safely.

  1. Declining Performance and Productivity

A noticeable decline in an employee’s performance and productivity can be a red flag. If a once-efficient employee is struggling to meet deadlines, makes mistakes, or exhibits a lack of focus, it’s time to consider whether their health, either physical or mental, is a contributing factor. Occupational health specialists can conduct assessments to determine if there are any underlying health issues affecting job performance.

Frustrated female employee lying her head down on a pile of documents

  1. Frequent Workplace Accidents or Near-Misses

If an employee is involved in frequent workplace accidents or near-miss incidents, it’s essential to investigate further. Occupational health professionals can analyse the circumstances surrounding these incidents to identify potential hazards, assess an employee’s fitness for the job, and recommend safety measures or modifications to prevent future accidents.

  1. Complaints of Discomfort or Pain

Employees who consistently complain of discomfort, pain, or fatigue that they believe is related to their job should be referred to occupational health services. These complaints could be early signs of ergonomic issues, repetitive strain injuries, or other work-related health problems. Prompt evaluation and intervention can prevent these issues from escalating.

  1. Behavioural Changes and Mental Health Concerns

Changes in an employee’s behaviour, such as increased irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or withdrawal, may indicate underlying mental health issues. Occupational health professionals are trained to assess and provide support for mental health concerns. Encourage employees to seek help when they notice these changes and be ready to refer them to the appropriate services.

  1. Chronic Health Conditions

Employees with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, may need accommodations or support to manage their conditions in the workplace. Occupational health can work with these employees and their healthcare providers to create a plan that ensures their well-being while on the job.

  1. Exposure to Hazardous Substances

If an employee is exposed to hazardous substances as part of their job, it’s essential to monitor their health and refer them to occupational health services for regular assessments. These assessments can detect early signs of exposure-related health issues and guide preventive measures.

  1. Return-to-Work Planning

Finally, when an employee is recovering from a significant illness, injury, or surgery, occupational health services can assist in creating a safe and effective return-to-work plan. This plan may include modified duties, workplace adjustments, and ongoing monitoring to ensure a smooth transition back to full productivity.


In conclusion, recognising the signs that an employee may need occupational health services is crucial for both their well-being and the overall health of your organisation. Early intervention can prevent health issues from worsening and improve workplace safety and productivity. By staying vigilant and responsive to these signs, you can create a healthier, more supportive work environment for all your employees.

If you have any concerns about the health and well-being of your employees or would like to explore the occupational health services offered by Healthscreen, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Your employees’ health is our priority, and we are here to assist you every step of the way.

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