Services and Information
The role of the Staff Occupational Health Service is diverse. It provides a service for a broad range of occupations within the University of Sheffield. This is a nurse-led service with the added benefit of an Occupational Health Physician, who visits on a session basis. The nurses are qualified professionals who work to the strict guidelines specified by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The Staff Occupational Health Service (SOHS) has a role that supports managers. This includes:
- Provision of guidance to all levels of management with regard to health issues and sickness absence management
- Advice on individuals referred by department heads, departmental administrators or HR Advisors and the provision of a written report
- Assessment of individuals in their workplace in order to advise on modifications relevant to their medical condition
Telephone, e-mail or other informal advice can be provided to departmental heads, departmental administrators or other university staff regarding occupational health issues affecting groups or individuals.
Any employee can contact the SOHS on an informal basis either via telephone or e-mail regarding work-related health matters and an appointment arranged if required. This is confidential, individual advice and a written report will not be generated unless requested by the individual.
Work Health Assessment
- The SOHS will assess the health of prospective staff in order to identify any health issues that may be affected by the proposed role or where work may affect the health of prospective employees.
- The SOHS will review risk assessment and health surveillance registration forms for laboratory and certain other workers, carrying out any additional health assessment required, initiating any necessary recall for health surveillance, immunisations and any necessary reports.
- The SOHS will advise where reasonable adjustments to the workplace are required in order to either protect health or enable employees to carry out their role.
Managers are responsible for ensuring the SOHS receive the necessary pre-employment documentation to ensure the employee can be signed 'fit' prior to the commencement of employment (this applies to occupations in 'risk' categories – see Designated Activities Checklist).
Managers are responsible for ensuring that new employees have attended for any statutory health surveillance within 4 weeks from the commencement of their employment.
Genetic Modification and Biological Agents Work
At the University of Sheffield all prospective employees working with GMO's 1, 2, 3 and Biological Agents 2-4 are requested to complete a GM/Bio health questionnaire. An assessment will be made by the Staff Occupational Health Service as to whether continued health surveillance or monitoring is required.
Employees and other research workers already in post should be requested to complete a new GM/Bio medical questionnaire in the following circumstances:-
- Where an employee or research worker is moving to a new project where the risk assessment varies from that of the original work for which they received medical clearance.
- Where there is any change in the researcher's health status.
New employees who are assessed as being at risk will be provided with the opportunity to discuss their individual needs with Occupational Health. The SOHS will provide information and arrange for staff requiring occupational immunisation to attend the University Health Services (Gell Street). This service is provided by the University and has no cost implications for the individual.
The SOHS can advise managers and employees on the management of contamination injuries (an injury or incident which causes exposure to high risk blood or body fluids).
The SOHS supports staff to remain at work as contracted or to return to work as soon as possible unless there are specific concerns relating to the well-being of the employee or safety to others.
Occupational health advice given to the manager will not contain confidential medical detail, but is concerned with the effects of a health problem on an employee´s work attendance or performance, or the effects of work on an employee´s health.
- The exposure of the employee to a substance hazardous to health is such that identifiable disease or adverse health effect may be related to the exposure
- There is a reasonable likelihood that the disease or effect may occur under the particular conditions of the work
- There are valid techniques for detecting indications of the disease or effect
At the pre-employment stage, it is the responsibility of the manager to provide a supplementary questionnaire to prospective employees who are to work with e.g. respiratory sensitisers such as laboratory allergens. In addition, they will instruct the employee to return the completed questionnaire to the SOHS, along with the standard pre-employment health assessment form.
Health Surveillance is not a substitute for safe practice.
The SOHS will initiate a recall system for statutory health surveillance and will provide feedback for management.
As part of its duty of care to its staff and responsibility to others, the University of Sheffield is required to ensure that there are no potentially significant health problems affecting its drivers.
Drivers of University vehicles (vocational drivers) are required to fulfil strict medical requirements similar to those applied to commercial drivers. Departments should refer individuals to the Staff Occupational Health Service for assessment.
New and existing staff who are being employed to prepare and handle food items should be referred to the Staff Occupational Health Service for a health assessment. A health questionnaire should be completed and an appointment made to consult an occupational health adviser.
The Working Time Regulations, 1999 defines a night worker as someone who works for at least 3 hours between 23:00 – 06:00 hours on a regular basis. Anyone in this category should be offered an annual health questionnaire and health assessment if required. The questionnaire is provided by the SOHS and will be confidential.
Advice Regarding Health and Safety in the Workplace
Where appropriate the SOHS will visit work areas assisting in the assessment of hazards / risks associated with work and make recommendations toward best practice and to comply with legislation (e.g. Health and Safety at Work act, 1974).
The SOHS will provide written reports pertaining to these visits to the referring manager and/or individual, detailing any recommendations.
Health Promotions & Education
The SOHS can provide general health information for all University employees on a range of issues to promote healthier living and achieving a good work – life balance.
The Staff Occupational Health Service is bound by the common laws of confidentiality and duty of care. Occupational health staff will always seek informed consent before sharing personal / medical information in a written report following a management referral.
The Occupational Health Advisors are all nurses bound by the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Code of Professional Conduct. Clause 5 in the Code gives comprehensive advice regarding confidentiality and release of information, the Nurse Advisors will be bound by this Code at all times.