Principles of the Knowledge
Work is usually good for our health and well-being
We all get common health problems at times - feeling stressed, anxiety, depression, back pain, neck pain, minor injuries, etc. They can occur whatever job we have. Mostly we can cope and carry on at work and that’s generally the best way to recover. Ask yourself, do you think that you or other people need to be somehow 'protected' from work when you have symptoms of common health problems, or is work usually the best place to get on with recovering?
Most work is not dangerous
So long as it complies with the Health & Safety Regulations, most modern work is not truly dangerous. It may have some unpleasant or uncomfortable aspects, but work is not usually a major cause of common health problems. Despite this, they account for most long-term sickness absence. Clearly we are not doing the right things to maintain health at work and prevent work loss.
Work may become difficult when we have a health complaint or injury
Health complaints and minor injuries can be irritating or even distressing to any of us. They can interfere with ability to work and be active, but they are not ‘severe’ in a medical sense and there is no reason to expect they will not improve. In fact, most people remain at work or return quite quickly, and they come to no harm. Those who find themselves struggling or going off work don’t actually need to – if they get a little help from the organisation.
Mostly we can cope and carry on at work
Common health problems are work-relevant because the symptoms can interfere with your ability to do your usual job, although they do not always do this. You need to know that helping someone to stay at work or to get back quickly is the best policy. The longer someone is off work the harder it is for them to get back, and the more it costs.
Helping people to stay at work or get back quickly is the best approach
Some people struggle to stay at work or get back quickly. That’s because they face obstacles, not because they have a more serious health problem. Good management at the workplace is crucial for overcoming the obstacles. Providing a supportive workplace that allows temporary changes to job tasks is the best course of action.
Reducing the Burden of Health Complaints at Work
Providing good jobs that are as comfortable as possible and accommodating workers in a supportive workplace when they have health complaints is the way to reduce the burden of health complaints at work. It is not that difficult to do, and will have tangible benefits. The starting point is to ensure your entire workforce is onside with the Health↔Work message.