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Looking After Our Staff: Occupational Health at TWI

Tue, 03 December, 2019

Looking after the health and wellbeing of staff is important to TWI. From work hazards to mental health, our occupational health advisor, Heather Wawryka helps make sure that everyone stays well and safe at work.

Work forms a large part of people’s lives, providing a sense of purpose and feeding into their general wellbeing and sense of self-worth. Just as your health can impact your work, so your work can impact your health, so it is important for TWI to ensure that all staff are looked after. Where people do fall ill, Heather assists in case management to support Human Resources and managers in helping ensure employees have a safe return to work.

TWI has a diverse workforce, from administrative staff to welders, each with their own particular set of needs. Each member of staff has their own individual requirements and it is Heather’s job to help make sure these are met while also helping to ensure a safe working environment. For example, the recent reclassification of welding fume by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a carcinogen, has created a need to reassess potential exposure and control measures in the laboratories, workshops and welding training centres at TWI. Therefore re-evaluating health surveillance such as lung function has been addressed and the frequency is likely to increase depending on roles and job tasks.

Of course, occupational health does not just support and help maintain physical wellbeing, but also mental health issues. Managing workloads and handling stress is also important to help keep employees happy and productive at work, and this is another important facet of Heather’s work.

Heather, who has been a qualified nurse since 1981, has a wealth of experience and related qualifications, having worked in areas including paediatrics oncology, maternity, general surgery and even as a nurse in prisons. She joined TWI in 2012, working with an external occupational healthcare provider before finally being employed in-house by TWI in 2015.

In her time working and specialising in occupational health, Heather has seen the role move from being reactive to proactive. Health surveillance, advice and promotion are now important parts of her work as prevention has become the focus over cure. With this in mind, TWI’s occupational health work includes offering seasonal flu vaccinations for staff (now in the fifth year of provision), ensuring first aiders are protected against hepatitis B, and providing advice on vaccinations for staff travelling overseas, as well as completing health surveillance for employees who are exposed to materials that could be hazardous to health.

Over all, a well-managed occupational health and safety programme keeps the business operating at full capacity, ensures a good working environment for all staff and shows TWI as a caring and responsible employer.

Heather Wawryka
Heather Wawryka

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