All public hospital employees in Ireland now have access to occupational health services. These are based on site in the larger hospitals or accessible off-site in some areas. Each is clinically led by a specialist / consultant occupational physician who provides a service with a team of nurses and administrative staff. All work closely with physiotherapists who can ‘fast-track’ access to treatment for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and also have access, directly or indirectly, to counselling support services, which may or may not be on site.
Occupational health deals with the interface between health and work but encompasses a broader remit of work and work environment (including psychosocial environment), health and ill-health as well as life and lifestyle.
A very strict code of ethics underpins occupational health practice, augmenting the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (7th Edition). Occupational health professionals are mindful of the importance of respecting confidentiality. They have a particular skill in communicating effectively with employers and managers on fitness for work issues without disclosing confidential health details.