These findings come from a YouGov survey for Croner which reveals some sharp disparities in people’s views and experience in relation to the health and wellbeing aspects of health and safety.
Most people accept that preventing ill health in the workplace is the joint responsibility of employer and employee. In the survey, just over six out of ten agree it should be shared equally. But a sizeable minority see the employer as mainly responsible.
In all, 31 per cent of workers surveyed say their employers do not provide occupational health services, such as health information, counselling, wellbeing programmes or health checks.
And where such services are on offer, they may not be comprehensive. Asked if their employer is proactive in preventing ill health, 47 per cent of all employed people agree, compared with 31% who answer ‘no’. However, more than one in five workers either doesn’t know or prefers not to answer.
The Croner research also reveals a gender gap when it comes to enjoyment of occupational health services. More than a third of women say their employers do not offer any occupational health services at all, compared with 28 per cent of men.
Not surprisingly, therefore, female workers are more likely than men to take a dim view of their employer’s approach to occupational health. More than a third of men say their employers are proactive in preventing ill health in their workforce, compared with fewer than one in four women.
Age, not just gender, emerges as a possible divisive factor in the provision of occupational health services in the Croner survey. At either end of the age spectrum, workers are more likely to be in jobs lacking these occupational health services. Smaller proportions of those in the intervening age bands go without.
Of those able to access occupational health services, around a third say information or counselling are available. Wellbeing programmes are the next most popular service, followed by general health checks (such as blood pressure and flu jabs) with 21 per cent. More specific health surveillance targeted at certain occupational health hazards (including hearing/lung function tests, etc) is least common: only 13 per cent of workers say they benefit from this type of testing.
“Occupational health services are a great vehicle for employers to demonstrate commitment to their employees’ wellbeing,” says Stephen Thomas, Safety Technical Consultant at Croner. “This research demonstrates that the distribution of these kinds of services is uneven at best, with significant variance between gender and age.
“While specific health surveillance such as hearing or lung function testing is more relevant in certain industries, universal services such as counselling and wellbeing health checks can make a huge difference not just to employees’ physical and mental health, but also to the morale of the whole workforce.”