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Call for flexibility on worker health

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Call for flexibility on worker health

Employers are being urged to take a flexible approach to work to help
their employees manage health conditions they may have.

The Institution of
Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has made the call because, it believes,
many workers are “excluded” from the workplace when health problems arise, even
though they may still be capable of work. With World Arthritis Day taking place
today (12 October), Nattasha Freeman, the president of IOSH, said: “Many of us
suffer from health problems which can impact on our ability to do our work. Too
often, employers are too quick to send someone with a health problem off to
their sick bed without considering any alternatives.

“Take someone with pain in their back or shoulder. This may prevent them from
doing work that involves regular lifting, but it doesn’t mean there’s no work
they can do within the organisation. Employers need to be encouraged to think
about other tasks their employees can do while they recover from their health

Nattasha said that health and safety professionals were well-placed to help
advise employers, alongside occupational health doctors and nurses, HR
professionals and GPs: “Health and safety professionals can help to identify
health problems people have, and refer them to an expert who, may prevent them
leaving the workplace on sickness absence.

“If we become better at identifying people’s problems, and obtaining the
correct treatment as early as possible, we have a good chance of preventing the
problem becoming so serious that the individual has to leave the workplace for
a lengthy period. This helps the employer too, as it reduces the costs
associated with sickness absence and loss of production.”

In Britain in 2007-08, 539,000 people who had worked in the last year suffered
from musculoskeletal disorders caused or made worse by their work. 213,000
people who had worked in the last year suffered from an upper limb disorder
they believed was caused or made worse by work in 2007-08.

10 October 2009

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