The government has launched a £1m fund for new ideas to help more people access occupational health, especially those employed by SMEs or the self-employed.
Innovate UK and the Work and Health Unit – a joint venture between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – are inviting applications for funding for projects that will deliver better OH access for those who traditionally find it difficult to get work-related health support.
According to the government, large employers are five times more likely to offer access to occupational health than small businesses.
It is looking for projects that would deliver improvements to OH provision, or harness new technologies including artificial intelligence.
The bodies are looking for proposals that:
- Show how their project will increase access to occupational health services for the employees of micro- and small organisations, and the self-employed
- Improve the provision of occupational health services so that the market can better utilise their capacity to serve the needs of more people
- contribute to the existing evidence base about occupational health.
Successful bidders will receive up to £100,000 to get their projects off the ground. Applications for the occupational health funding competition are open until 15 March 2023.
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Tom Pursglove, the minister for disabled people, health and work, said: “Good occupational health within workplaces is vital in supporting our overall health and standard of living. We spend so much of our lives at work, and it is imperative that our employers can give us the support we need to maintain our physical and mental health. This in turn means we can give our best at work.
“Through the launch of our new £1m fund, I look forward to seeing innovative, workable solutions to help SMEs deliver the best for their employees, creating healthier, welfare-driven working environments that will ultimately drive growth and improve people’s working lives.”
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “This new £1 million fund will help us find better ways to support the health of our workforce – especially looking at small businesses and the self-employed.
“Making sure people stay well enough to work is so important – it means a bigger workforce, boosted productivity, and better quality of living.”