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Occupational health

The ECA and the BESA surveyed their members on occupational health during Q1 2016.  The working description of ‘Managing occupational health’ that was used in the survey (and with which the bulk of respondents agreed) was: 'eliminating or sufficiently controlling significant exposure to work-related physical or mental health hazards (e.g. noise, asbestos, excessive manual handling, or stress) and disease, and monitoring the effects on individuals as necessary’.

The main on-site occupational health hazards identified by respondents were manual handling (96 per cent), noise (94 per cent), and asbestos (93 per cent).

82 per cent of respondents said they managed occupational health (OH), cited a ‘moral duty’ as a key reason for doing so, while over half (51 per cent) said it also helped to show the sector was ‘a great place to work.’ Many respondents also said that managing OH led to a more productive workforce, with better staff retention (77 per cent), and less absenteeism (84 per cent). Additionally, almost 60 per cent said that OH will become more important to their business in the next five years.

Regarding mental health, of the firms who reported that they manage occupational health overall, nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) incorporate plans to tackle potential mental health issues, such as occupational stress. Around 3 in 10 respondents (31 per cent) said they found on-site mental health ‘hard to manage’, despite seeing it as a potential occupational health issue.

ECA is using the results of the survey to inform its strategy in this increasingly important area.