Information from Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Occupational therapists (OTs) have a comprehensive medical training covering both physical and psychological conditions, and are also skilled in analysing the practical consequences of illness or disability. The profession has a central role in resolving any residual issues following a period of illness and medical treatment, and also in advising employers about the needs of sick or disabled workers when they return to the work environment. OTs can also assist employees who are still at work but having difficulties due to illness or disability.
An OT will carry out a detailed assessment of the needs of the workplace and the abilities of the individual, and identify problems and potential solutions. Where appropriate the OT will provide an action plan and oversee its implementation. An OT have provide specific advice in the following areas: Risk assessment and risk monitoring Once a risk assessment has been carried out, and agreement reached on action required, the OT can monitor progress and review the risks during work retention and rehabilitation programmes, which may involve the presence in the workplace of employees who are not “100 per cent fit”.
Retention programmes and absence management OTs can assess problems both inside and outside the workplace and establish a retention or return to work plan with employer and employee.
Return to work programmes Where an employee has been away from the workplace for a long period, and particularly where he or she has a acquired a long-term disability, the OT can advise on the practicality of a return to work, and the need for any modifications to the job role, the work environment, or the hours worked.
Environmental or worksite modifications OTs are experienced in assessing what adaptations or specialist equipment may be required to assist an employee to perform his or her duties. Where necessary the OT will be able to provide a specification for use by architects or builders, and will be able to liaise with relevant staff and contractors to ensure the work is carried out satisfactorily.