Should disability-related sickness due to colds or flu be discounted from employee’s absence figures?

Young Woman Sneezing into a Handkerchief

A recent employment tribunal recommended that disregarding disability-related sickness absence was a reasonable adjustment including sickness for colds or flu for those employees  who have health conditions that make them more prone to colds and flu. Read more here.


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OnOctober 16, 2013, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by

Survey of noise emissions show that manufacturers information variable quality

The HSE have published a study that shows that noise emission data from manufacturers can be of variable quality and based on standards that no longer exist. Therefore conducting your own noise level measurements may be necessary to ensure that you have accurate readings in order to take appropriate steps to protect the hearing of your workers and to establish whether or not health surveillance is required. Read more


noise health surveillance


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OnMay 27, 2013, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by

I can’t come to work as my fish is sick….

Do something you've always wanted to doA recent study has revealed the 25 most bizarre excuses given for not attending work

  1. A can of baked beans landed on my big toe
  2. I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside
  3. I’ve been bitten by an insect
  4. My car handbrake broke and it rolled down the hill into a lamppost
  5. My dog has had a big fright and I don’t want to leave him
  6. My hamster has died
  7. I’ve injured myself during sex
  8. I slipped on a coin
  9. I’ve had a sleepless night
  10. My mum has died (this was the second time the person used this excuse)
  11. I am hallucinating
  12. I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken
  13. My new girlfriend bit me in a delicate place
  14. I burned my hand on the toaster
  15. The dog ate my shoes
  16. My fish is sick
  17. I swallowed white spirit
  18. My toe is trapped in the bath tap
  19. I’m in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue
  20. I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am
  21. My trousers split on the way to work
  22. I’m using a new contact lens solution and my eyes are watering
  23. I have a blocked nose
  24. I’ve had a hair dye disaster
  25. I’ve got a sore finger

Read more here

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OnMay 24, 2013, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by

How to reduce pregnancy-related sick leave

reducing pregnancy sick leaveA recent study in the journal BJOG: An international Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has said that three-quarters of pregnant women take sick leave from work. Women took an average of 8 weeks’ sick leave, ranging from 1-40 weeks, with the majority needing between 4-16 weeks.

This figure could be reduced if employers made flexible work adjustments. Some of the main health issues and symptoms associated with pregnancy can be nausea, fatigue and lower back pain. The symptoms can be worse at different stages of the pregnancy and each individual pregnancy is likely to affect each woman differently.

Simple work adjustments such as allowing the person to take regular breaks or reduce their hours by 1-2 hours per day may be enough to enable the person to continue working for most of the day and complete much of their workload without actually having to go off sick. This is likely to better for both the employer and the employee. Just having the flexibility to leave earlier on the occasions that fatigue is more severe would benefit most people.

Avoiding or limiting manual handling may be required, which may not be an issue if it isn’t an integral part of the role, but if it is the main part of the role then more suitable work may need to be found for the duration of the pregnancy.

Staff who work shifts and have to work early in the morning or late at night, may benefit from altering their start or finish time to allow for early morning nausea or late night fatigue. They wouldn’t necessarily need to work less hours, but just start their shift later and finish later, or start earlier and finish earlier.

A normal pregnancy without complications should not have a significant impact on a person’s work and a common sense approach to managing work tasks should be sufficient. Usually a discussion with the person and their manager should identify the appropriate adjustments required.

In a small number of cases, the woman may develop more serious complications relating to the pregnancy, and if there is a higher risk of health problems with either the woman or the baby, then a full occupational health assessment is recommended. This would involve an occupational health professional assessing the person, taking into account the advice from the GP or midwife and providing you with appropriate advice on her fitness to work and any reasonable adjustments required to allow her to stay at work whilst reducing any risks of adversely affecting her health.

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OnJanuary 21, 2013, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by

Re-energise in January

Tired, frazzled & stressed after the Christmas period?

Read these top ten tips to re-energise in January
1. Set some goals
Setting a few clear specific goals will help motivate you to act towards meeting those goals. Visualising yourself achieving the goal, imagining how you will feel, will help you get one step closer to your dreams. You have to believe that the goal is achievable, so if it feels too hard to imagine , break it into smaller bite size chunks and work towards your final goal one step at a time.

2. Regular energy breaks
Occupational health services |Regular energy breaksYour energy levels dip throughout the day, approximately every 90 minutes. Therefore getting up and getting the blood pumping and improving your circulation at these times will help keep your energy levels flowing. Get up, move about, go for a brisk walk around the block, climb a couple of flights of stairs. It doesn’t have to be for longer than a few minutes, but once you feel the blood pumping, you’ll really notice the difference in your energy levels when you get back to your desk – go on try it, and see for yourself!

Occupational Health Services |Do something you've always wanted to do

3. Make time to something you’ve always wanted to do
Have you ever wanted to learn the piano, do a bread making course, try kite surfing? Make a list of all the things that you’ve wanted to do and pick one to try in January. The feeling of excitement you get by trying something new that you’ve always wanted to do should fire you up to do more in the future. And who knows, this could lead to a new hobby or even a new career!

4. Look after yourself
Although it seems a cliché, eating well, exercising regularly and getting adequate rest and relaxation all do help your energy levels.

5. Create healthy eating patterns
Regular meals with small nutritious snacks in between is the best way to keep your blood sugar levels stable and give you the energy you need for the day. Identify your ‘difficult’ times – and plan to ensure that you have enough food before that danger time to not feel hungry enough to snack. Make sure that you are not tempted with sweets, biscuits or crisps by not having them displayed – hide them in cupboards, put them in difficult places to access, which might deter you from reaching in to get them. Have a big bowl of fruit on display – fresh, colourful fruit and plan your day so you have enough food with you so not tempted to snack on anything else.

6. Make time to regularly recharge your batteries
If you are constantly on the go all the time you are likely to become stale, slow and less productive. You need the relaxation time to recharge your batteries so that are more effective and energised when you are engaging in work. If you think of a professional athlete, they could not get peak performance if they did not have adequate recovery time – it is the same at work. Consider yoga, meditation, a walk in the countryside, spa, reading in the garden – whatever relaxes you and make sure you have some time each day, plus a longer period each month of total relaxation. It usually is when you are relaxed and not thinking about work that the best ideas or solutions come to you!


7. Laugh
Laughing or smiling helps release endorphins that make you feel happy, positive and more relaxed. Even faking a smile has been shown to have a similar effect. A hearty laugh can give you an instant energy lift. Watch your favourite comedy show, do something silly, or just hang out with people that make you happy.

8. Find what makes you happy
Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want. Focussing on things that make you feel good, rather than not. You need to retrain your mind on how you want to feel and find things to do that make you feel like that. List the things that make you happy and aim to do at least one thing every day.

9. Spend time with people that bring you up
Some people bring you down, some lift you up. Make a list of all those people you know who have a positive impact on your mind and energy levels and make a date to spend more time with them

10. Perform a random act of kindness
Doing things for others really can make you feel good. You could aim to do one random act of kindness or one favour a day. It can be a small act such as doing a coffee run or carrying someone’s case up the stairs, but it costs nothing and you’ll feel good inside. The more kind acts you do, the more you’ll start to notice other people doing kind acts for you!

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OnJanuary 1, 2013, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by