what-not-to-say-to-occupational-health-assessment

What Not To Say During An Occupational Health Assessment? (A Guide)

This article will define what not to say to occupational health assessment. What an occupational health assessment is and what its purpose is. Furthermore, the article will advise what both the employer and employee’s should say to the occupational health assessors when they come to assess the workplace.

What Not To Say During An Occupational Health Assessment?

During an occupational health assessment employers should not mention what they have not been able to do for the employee’s in terms of health and safety and accommodation because this is a broad area and many things can come under this which are impossible to arrange due to finances and other resource constraints.

At the same time, employees should make sure that they are truthful with regards to their symptoms if they have any disability or disorder so as to justify any accomodation their employer has provided for them.

The article will cover a number of topics that focus on what employees and employers should say to the occupational health assessor as well as what they should not say!

What Should Employees Say?

In this section, we will talk about how employees can describe their conditions or disabilities in the best manner so the occupational health assessor has a good idea of how their life is.

Talk About Your Symptoms

Regardless of how you feel or what you think, your symptoms are what really make the difference! If the condition is affecting you in a physical manner or affects your behaviour then your doctor as well as your employer are more likely to become convinced that your case is serious!

It is important that you talk about your symptoms in detail. Whether it is a headache or a minor cut that appeared on your body – talk about it. Sometimes we take things for granted but they have a relation to what we feel, think or experience.

In most occupational settings, employees face many issues due to stress such as headaches, body aches, high blood pressure and breathing problems. Hence it is important to know the symptoms.

Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations — whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. Sometimes stress can result in such severe conditions or exacerbate an existing condition that it affects your daily life.

According to WebMD, the following symptoms reflect stress:

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioral symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Be Open About Your Feelings

Feelings also matter a lot! One of the most important feelings is that of happiness – it is a universal way to measure your quality of life. However, sometimes we are not happy but unhappy, sad, anxious and stressed out! This can take a toll on our body because how we feel eventually affects our physiological state!

Feelings can also point to serious mental conditions such as depression! If this is the case, your doctor will immediately give you a stress leave. This can also serve to prove that your daily life is being affected.

By telling the occupational health assessor how you feel you will provide a more detailed picture of your condition.

Highlight Triggers

It is important you clearly tell your doctor what stresses you out. This will enable them to determine whether or not these triggers exist in your office – they are most likely too! Hence, once they have enough information about how you feel and what experiences you have, they are in a better position to get you a stress leave.

In case these triggers exist in the office and your employer has refused to deal with them, now is a good chance to get what you need done!

Your Appointments

It is important that the health assessor knows how your life is – they should know which doctors you visit and what your routine is like. Also, how many times you have to book appointments to meet your doctor is quite important too!

Employers – What To Say

It is important that employers show or do the following:

  • Keep a record of all the employees who have health issues
  • Demonstrate what you have done in the office to show ‘accommodation’
  • If asked, only then respond to what you were not able to provide for disabled employees
  • Keep a record of the finances it took to provide special accommodation to employees who suffer from some sort of condition or disability.

Here are some things employers can do before the assessment takes place:

  • Making physical adjustments in the workplace.
  • Allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person. 
  • Transferring the disabled person to another vacant post, with or without reasonable adjustments being made. 
  • Altering the disabled person’s working hours.
  • Providing special equipment to assist the disabled person to perform his/her tasks.
  • Providing training in the use of special equipment. 
  • Consideration of part time or at home working on a phased or ongoing basis. 

What Not To Say!

In case an occupational health assessment takes place at your workplace, there are a number of things you should be careful about. 

As an employee, you should not say anything that makes the assessor feel as though you are fine without the special accommodation you have. Their purpose is to assess your condition and what is needed or not needed and hence the slightest hint that you are fine will be caught by them and used as proof that you are not in need of any extra facilities.

Also, do not mention what you have arranged yourself because that way the assessor will assume you have the resources to ensure comfort for yourself. 

However, as an employer you will have to be careful to not mention what the employee has asked for and what you were not able to provide. Finances are your issue and not that of the occupational health assessment.

Nevertheless, both the employee and employer need to keep a balanced approach in dealing with such assessments because they can actually create problems for the workplace.

Employees Concerns

Here are some concerns that have been highlighted by Stay Well Occupational Health!

When employees are told about their upcoming occupational health workplace assessment they may feel worried or concerned that their personal medical information may be shared with their employer, and that these private details will influence the way that they are treated on the job. This is not the case at all – this assessment is intended to make their lives better on the job, not to ferret out personal details that can be used against them. It is imperative that all employees have all of these concerns and worries assuaged; private occupational health assessments are completely confidential, independent and objective in nature.

Of course, an employee always has the right to refuse to attend an occupational health assessment or other health meeting. This refusal may have to do with personal beliefs, fear of sharing medical details or religious reasons, and should be documented clearly. Employers should always do their best to gently encourage their employees to attend any recommended health meeting, but to remember that a staff member does have the right to refuse. That said, if an employee refuses they should be made aware that management will then have to make any and all decisions about their future employment without any medical information.

Conclusion

This article talked about what should not be said during an occupational health assessment and why. Furthermore, the article also defined what such assessments are and what things should be said. Lastly, the concerns of employees regarding such assessments were also detailed.

References

https://www.rdj.ie/insights/occupational-health-assessments—tips-to-avoid-the-traps

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