FIT for duty

FIT for duty

In today’s work environment – characterised by strong unions, frequent strikes and stringent labour legislation – it wouldn’t be out of place to suggest that “the employee is always right”. But, with ICAS Southern Africa, you can be assured that your company (and workforce) will be taken care of. JACO DE KLERK reports.

ICAS Southern Africa, a part of ICAS International, is a behavioural management consultancy specialising in integrated employee health, wellness and wellbeing services. The company, awarded as “The World’s Best Provider” of behavioural risk management services by the American EAP Association, contributes to the health and performance of employees and organisations in all sectors of the economy. ICAS has its hand firmly cradling the continent, with its support of more than 500 000 employees in over 300 companies, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The employee wellbeing programmes provide a number of services to employees and managers alike. These offer tailored solutions, to assist with the stresses of everyday life, and include:
• Psychological counselling for employees and their dependants in the 11 official South African languages;
• Life management, where the company offers telephonic information and assistance on legal problems, financial concerns and family matters;
• E-Care, a customised online programme for all employees within an organisation. This service allows users to access a wellbeing portal and gain information on relevant topics via interactive tools and professional advisory services.

Furthermore South Africa requires, through legislation, that employers should be able to guarantee that employees working in safety-crucial environments are physically and psychologically fit to do so.

Jenni Butler, clinical specialist manager at ICAS Southern Africa, defines psychological fitness for duty as “the absence of any limiting psychological or psychosocial factors which impact on safety and function, and the ability of the employee to safely and effectively perform his/her duties.”

“Through our experience within the transport, petroleum, construction and other safety-related industries, ICAS has taken cognisance of the requirement for accurate assessment of psychosocial risks and the impact they may have on an employee’s ability to safely perform safety-critical or safety-related duties in a risk management context,” states Butler.

This need to identify areas of psychosocial risks has led to the development of FIT, a safety risk assessment tool. Butler points out that this unique service combines the clinical skill, judgement and experience of mental health practitioners with the objectivity of standardised scales and internationally recognised and researched cut-off scores.

According to Butler, this optimises efficiency, accuracy and consistency of screening. “FIT was developed following rigorous review of research and international best practice in safety risk assessment by an ICAS multidisciplinary research team comprising specialists in psychology, psychiatry, occupational medicine and incapacity management.”

The evaluation form contains, among others, domains such as sleep and fatigue, trauma, substance abuse, psychiatric conditions, debt, stress and coping. FIT also makes use of computerised scoring and analysis systems. This increases efficiency and objectivity, allows for benchmarking, further analysis and research, as well as the development of company-specific normative data.

Butler says that ”the FIT report is generated and distributed within 48 hours of the assessment session, which enables the client company to make critical decisions regarding staffing and planning, and thereby limiting the impact of high risk employees on productivity – enabling the organisation to plan accordingly.”

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