There are many ways an occupational health advisor can assist your business, such as helping you reduce short-term sickness absence levels. But what else can they do and how much might their services cost?

Occupational health is "the study of the working environment on human health". Any individual who practices as an occupational health advisor (OHA) must have medical qualifications. Most are nurses, but in order to work in this field they must have further specialised qualifications in occupational health.

As well as being reactive to certain issues for example long-term sickness absence, or helping employees who have a disability and require reasonable adjustments an OHA can take on a central and proactive role in reducing short-term sickness absence levels for example, preventing stomach upsets and musculo-skeletal disorders, both common causes of time off.

For smaller employers an OHA with a nursing background is usually sufficient. However, there are a few areas where a doctor is required for example, if work involves lead or ionising radiation.

OHAs are also often asked to review fit notes; their input is particularly beneficial where a GP’s recommendations seem too expensive, impractical to implement, or where a second opinion is required.

Try to find an OHA through personal recommendation for example by asking anyone you know in a firm with its own occupational health department. Other options are to contact your local NHS hospital and speak to the occupational health manager or look for a local provider via the internet. But always insist on seeing proof of qualifications.

Fees vary according to where you are based and whether you contract for a subscription service or simply use them on a pay-as-you-go basis. But expect to pay around £250-£300 for a half-day visit to your premises and £550-£600 for a full day.