Occupational Health South West

helping employers ...
    ... help their employees ...
          ... help their employer

Assessing staff before employment


An  individual applied for a position as a bakery operative at a local company, completing a pre-employment questionnaire as a matter of course.  The pre-employment questionnaire did not show anything out of the ordinary, although the prospective employee did declare "a history of asthma under control by medication."

The employer had an on-going arrangement with OHSW to review all pre-employment questionnaires and submitted it for review in the usual way.

How OHSW helped

On reviewing the questionnaire, OHSW recommended an in-clinic occupational health appointment in order to clarify the medical history.

The session revealed that the asthma was quite severe and that required significant doses of medication.  OHSW identified that the individual had required hospital admission two years previously.

OHSW discussed the matter with the employer (with consent of the prospective employee).  The employer confirmed that the post would mean daily exposure to flour which is a known respiratory irritant and asthmagen.  In view of this OHSW recommended that the applicant was not suitable for the job.

The Outcome

Having taken the advice, and in view of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 ("DDA"), the employer considered whether the working environment could be adapted to meet the requirements of the applicant. Regrettably, the employer determined that this would not be possible.

Nonetheless the employer was impressed by the quality of the candidate and identified a vacant post within the company which was office based, which the applicant accepted and has subsequently undertaken with standard levels of sickness.

Key Conclusions

Never make assumptions

Often innocuous conditions such a Asthma can severley limit a canditate's ability to undertake work. Having arrangements for a professional review of all questionnaires can, therefore, turn up important information that might be missed by a lay-person.

Don't forget the DDA

Employers should bear in mind that excluding a candidate due to health conditions might fall foul of the DDA and, in turn, industrial tribunal, or litigation. Employers need to consider whether the health issue can be accommodated.

Don't wait

Identifying issues before an employee starts work is usually the most cost-effective approach. In this instance an accommodation was found that suited both employer and employee.


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Choose OHSW, because:

We are:

  • Affordable
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What do our Clients say?

Macsalvors (Plant Hire) Ltd:

"I cannot speak too highly of OHSW. The service and speed of response is always first class from the dedicated and very knowledgeable team. Thank you."

The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow:

"thank you for your fantastic service... we really appreciate your dedication and excellent value for money."

A&P Falmouth

"We have worked with OHSW for more than 10 years... Dr Tellam is always on hand to offer professional advice and support... feedback is always prompt and concise."