From drug screens to basic first aid to complex physicals and worker’ compensation care, learn how to keep employees safe with onsite occupational health services.
At its very basic, onsite occupational health refers to healthcare services dedicated to the safety and well-being of employees in the workplace. Sarah Hewitt, National Director of Occupational Health at Marathon Health, says these services typically fall into two categories:
- Administrative: Pre-employment exams, drug screenings, DOT physicals, etc.
- Work injury care: Evaluation and management of any conditions caused by or sustained in the workplace
While Hewitt notes any employer can benefit from offering onsite occupational health services to their employees, she says it’s in the direct interest of the public safety, manufacturing and distribution fields, as well as any industry or employer that requires annual physicals
. “From an employer perspective, it depends on the type of services that they know or anticipate their employees would need on an annual basis and the number of employees that applies to,” Hewitt adds.
Occupational health requirements vary, with some employers needing just a few services like drug screens and basic first aid, and others requiring complex physicals and workers’ compensation care. Marathon Health offers several levels of support, allowing employers to select the services they need. Examples include:
- DOT physicals
- Respiratory surveillance
- Hearing conservation programs
- Work injury case management
- Pre-employment physicals
- Drug and alcohol screenings
- Public safety physicals
- Hazardous material surveillance
- Work-related immunizations
States enact their own regulations around workers’ compensation
, which dictates the occupational health services offered in an employer-sponsored clinic. “Nearly all sprains and strains can be handled in the health center,” Hewitt says. “We can certainly handle anything considered to be OSHA
first aid in all of our health centers. In states where we are able to offer full injury care, things like suturing and even on-site physical therapy can be part of our treatment plan.”
For Reynolds American Inc., a large manufacturer, varying state law requirements allow them to offer onsite occupational health services at their North Carolina locations, but not at their Tennessee manufacturing facilities. Their occupational health services include work injury care, work injury case management and yearly audiometric screens.
By engaging and building relationships with members, employer health centers can incorporate occupational health services seamlessly, realizing the following benefits:
Cost Savings and Convenience
Onsite occupational health eliminates the high costs associated with patients visiting hospitals or urgent care centers for minor complaints. It also reduces hassle and time away from work for employees. Rather than having to clock out and drive to a hospital or urgent care clinic with a lengthy wait time, they can be seen onsite.
“We want our employees to report an injury and get checked out no matter how minor it is,” says Debbie Allison, Senior Manager of Wellness at Reynolds American. “Having that resource there gives the employee comfort that they’re being taken care of. They don’t have to get in their car, drive somewhere and worry about the paperwork they’ll have to coordinate with an outside facility.”
Being able to conduct pre-hire screenings onsite also helps employers onboard talent faster, which makes all the difference in a competitive labor market. “That’s especially helpful for fields like manufacturing and distribution, where the turnover rate is so high,” Hewitt says.
Allison also notes the work injury case management system support provided by Marathon Health provides employees a trusted and confidential resource for injury reporting.
Allison says onsite occupational services allow safety investigations to be conducted in a timely manner, which may help prevent additional injuries. “When safety gets an injury report, they can go and meet with the team to talk through the incident and examine the machinery. They look for what we can do to avoid the same incident in the future,” she adds.
Many Reynolds American employees use Marathon Health as their primary care provider. “They’re also using it for condition management and prescription fills,” Allison says. “We have a lot of folks who will stop by the health center on their way into work if they’re feeling off. Employees developing relationships with our providers for ongoing healthcare needs helps eliminate some of the accidents and injuries that might happen.”
Occupational health serves as a natural extension of other services provided at employer health centers, and it’s often what gets employees in the door. For example, employees may be required to visit the health center for a pre-employment physical or drug screen.
“Using occupational health as an entry method for exposure to primary care services is a big benefit to the employees because we routinely encounter members who don’t have a primary care provider and don’t have the time to find one,” Hewitt says.
The integrated approach allows for non-fragmented care and deeper relationships. For example, when an individual visits the health center for an occupational health reason, the provider also educates the member on additional health services, like annual physicals, biometric screenings or even behavioral healthcare.
“In the traditional industry, occupational health is very transactional,” Hewitt says. “You come in, get your drug screen and you’re done. When we develop that primary care relationship, we can improve patient health. That’s really where the biggest cost savings come in for an employer.”