The group conducts research, policy and strategy work as well as bridging the gap between the worlds of work and health through courses for corporate and healthcare colleagues.

Occupational health is all about the relationship between work and health. This relationship is relevant both ways - our work affects our health and our health can affect our ability to work or our performance at work. There are a number of reasons why occupational health is increasingly relevant to UK and global health and economic policy, as well as to private and public sector organisations of all sizes

There are higher than ever numbers of economically inactive people of working age due to ill health in the UK. This has a bearing on economic growth. In addition, demographic change means we have an ageing population. Generally, people experience more health problems as they get older, and the disability employment gap increases with age. We need to find ways of supporting people to stay in work as they get older. An imbalance between people working and contributing to government revenues and people requiring state support will put public services, including the NHS at risk.

Increasingly, private and public sector organisations of all sizes are navigating work and health issues within their workforces. This can include trying to address working conditions precipitating work-related stress, executive decision-making around employee healthcare support packages and revising sickness absence policies to better address the needs of the workforce and the organisation.

There is a workforce crisis in health and social care. There are over 250 000 vacancies across both sectors. This relates in part to challenging working conditions affecting recruitment and retention. The mental and physical health of the workforce must be improved and some of this will relate to work-related factors. Without addressing this, health and care service delivery will be affected.

The occupational health landscape is not a level playing field in the UK. Access to work and health advice is dependent on an individual’s employer and can leave the most vulnerable in society in poor working conditions without support to address any harmful effects on their health which can lead to further inequality. We know that working conditions are part of the wider social determinants of health and finding solutions to occupational health access across the economy will bring the UK in line with other countries.

Occupational health risks and hazards are evolving globally. From working in hot temperatures to rapidly evolving working conditions in emerging markets, occupational health is a global health issue, with a close relationship to environmental health.