Occupational Health & Ergonomics

Occupational Health Services (Staff)

The University has concluded a tender under the OGP National Framework for occupational health services to fulfil certain Occupational Health Physician (OHP) activities/provision of related medical services such as the following - staff work activity, risk related occupational health services, work and pregnancy related medical assessments, audiograms, lung functon tests and spirometry for diving or work with LAA, allergy tests, blood and antibody tests, work activity and travel related vaccinations.

The successful supplier for occupational health services is to be directly engaged with by College/School/Department/Centre/Units to advise on the discharge of mandatory occupational health assessments and occupational health advice under SHWW regulations (i.e., fulfil the role of a designated OHP under SHWW regulations).

The current OHP provider's list of tendered fee rates under the national OGP services framework is available from the Procurement Office.  In all cases, health surveillance and medical assessment costs and administrative arrangements fall to the School/Department budgets.

Any medical provider on the Procurement Office OHP medical practitioner tender list is to be utilised to undertake employee health surveillance services or for designated OHP assessment under SHWW Regulations.  The general result of health surveillance must be shared with the employee's line manager/department, (i.e., overall pass/fail result and or need for special precautions or follow up).  No personal medical information may be shared.

Certain types of inoculations (vaccinations) are relevant to and recommended for staff working with specific biologic agents.  The OHP medical provider on the Procurement Office medical practitioner list must be utilised to provide such work activity vaccinations or to verify sufficient antibodies via blood tests.

Please note that HR separately engages OHP services for general fitness to work, ill-health absence and employee work accommodation/adaptation assessments. HR separately engage OHP services in relation to staff Covid-19 return to work screening, advice and assessments (2020 Covid-19 pre-return to work clearance forms).

The Health & Safety Office engages an Occupational Health Physician from the Procurement Office OGP tender list to review pregnancy job related RA forms received.

UCC Student Health fulfils all of the above in relation to u/g and p/g students (advice and services).


General VDSE Workstation Set Up, Training & Assessment

Employers, via line managers, have an legal obligation to train their staff and to provide proper VDSE workstations and have an up-to-date assessment of all VDSE workstations in use by their staff (both office workstations and home-office workstations). Staff have an obligation to put that training into practice and apply it in their day-to-day work. The training course is externally hosted on a secure site. It is available here, and should be repeated at 3 yearly intervals when staff members receive an automated reminder. 

Note: staff must self-register for this e-VDSE course. Staff will need a UCC staff email address to access it. It is not accessible by students. Internet browsers such as Chrome appear to work better with the package. Staff should use a unique password and check that their record is assigned to their current department. It is up to the staff member to keep that current and up-to-date every time they re-take the course. (This is to ensure that current completions are correctly assigned to their current department e.g. not credited to a previous department).

Ergonomists and the University Occupational Health Physician (OHP) consistently espouse a combination of good workstation setup and job design and regular breaks (e.g. not staying sedentary for extended periods, getting up and moving around frequently and stretching exercises). Adjustable standing desks can be useful in this regard also, but care must be taken to ensure that other hazards are not generated e.g. falling objects or arm trapping points with adjacent fixed furniture/tables. To obtain an optimal VDSE seated position, the chair arm rest may sometimes need to be removed (via unscrewing a simple bolt underneath the seat pan).

Note: Staff should endeavour to mix up activities to ensure they are naturally getting up from a seated position more frequently, move around regularly and do some stretching. If it is not possible to accommodate this naturally, then build in more planned 5-minute standing and stretching breaks or movement task activities away from a seated position. Also endeavour to interchange seated tasks with tasks that require staff to actually move away from a seated position at the desk. Some useful stretching links are accessible here

The OHP has advised UCC that once the employer has provided a good, fully adjustable ergonomic workstation and chair and necessary VDSE related peripherals/aides arising from an assessment, then it would hardly fall to the employer to provide other supplementary equipment or specialist chairs. Also an employer can only be expected to make reasonable accommodations in any case, even where staff may have pre-existing or recently acquired medical conditions. Note: any requests still arising for specialist chairs should be sent to the Admin Officer in General Services and accompanied both by a physiotherapist or specialist letter and a School/Departmental PO/charge code. When working remotely during Covid-19, staff may make local departmental arrangements with their line manager to temporarily relocate VDSE equipment and office chairs.

VDE eyesight testing is also a staff entitlement. The procedure to follow is set out here.

VDSE Workstation Assessment Procedure

Staff must firstly complete the UCC VDSE on line training course. This training covers all aspects of VDU safety, associated ergonomics and how to set up a VDSE workstation.

Staff should then use this knowledge and directly apply the learning to their workstation set up (as they work through the online training course or shortly thereafter), e.g. set up and adjust their VDSE workstation in accordance with the learning points and fundamentals. As of  Q2 2020, they can do this in conjunction with the new illustrated UCC VDSE Assessment Tool.

Staff must then complete a self-assessment of their workstation to ensure it is set up correctly (note: both office and home office workstations need to be assessed). Utilise the new UCC illustrated VDSE RA excel form and provide a record of the completion and send to your line manager (for adding to the School/department safety statement).

Note: This new illustrated assessment tool is very self-explanatory and covers everything sequentially for both properly setting up and assessing a standard VDU workstation at UCC and at home workstations. This will suffice as an assessment for 90-95% of cases. If there is any equipment or VDSE related peripheral needs arising then employees must discuss this with their line manager. The employer, via the  line manager and local School/Department budgets, has a responsibility for providing the necessary equipment and peripherals (subject to the caveats of appropriateness and reasonably needed). This includes if an employees work base is at home, e.g. is regularly or permanently working from home by agreement.  

Complex cases or areas such as a security desk or library issue desks or post rooms {with a wide range of peripherals and monitors and activities) may need a more in-depth assessment by an specialist ergonomist. UCC does not employ an ergonomist. Note: it would be a matter for relevant Schools/Departments to directly engage an ergonomist consultant when/if deemed necessary to conduct any full desk and task, specific ergonomic assessments. The costs of same would fall to School/Department budgets.

Work Adaptations and Accommodations (Relating to Existing or Acquired Injury/Illness and Medical Conditions)

Please contact HR Staff Welfare for advice and to arrange a specialist assessment by the HR OHP.

VDU Eyesight Screening Test

STAFF VDU EYESIGHT SCREENING TEST is an entitlement for any staff member who uses VDU for 1 hour or more continuously during their work.

Professional VDU eyesight tests using modern testing technology are now available at very cost effective rates via the large high street providers of eye testing services and vision appliances. Many of these are convenient to UCC locations and offer UCC/corporate discount rates including VDU eyesight test only or a combination package for a VDU eyesight test and any necessary occupational lens deemed necessary (for VDU purposes).

Similar to the provision of any required PPE, the arranging and cost of VDU eyesight tests or any necessary occupational lens arising, for VDU use, would be a departmental/school operating expense associated with their staff and work activities.

The arranging VDU eyesight tests and associated payments (VDU eyesight test only OR a combination cost - for an eyesight test and basic occupational lens) should be arranged by or progressed via an employee’s line manager direct to the vision testing provider offering the best rates. Purchase orders (POs) should be raised firstly and administered by each department through UCC Agresso system. In all cases a results outcome of the VDU eyesight test should be obtained from the test provider and retained locally by department management. 

For new staff members who will regularly use VDSE each day, departments should arrange an initial vdu eyesight test for the staff member concerned, after they commence at UCC*.

Existing staff who are experiencing eyesight difficulties relating to VDU use at work can have a repeat test upon application to their manager*.

The guidelines to the SHWW VDSE regulations indicate an objective of providing repeat screening tests to staff on the following basis:

One screening test every 10 years in the 20/30 age group - unless where there is a VDU vision at work problem.
Biannual screening tests in the 40+ age group.

The purpose of a VDU test is to evaluate a number aspects of vision of relevance to VDU use only. (Mid focal length vision) and any associated eye coordination difficulties.  Any special appliances deemed necessary are related to minimising fatigue and maximising comfort. Staff should separately undertake the UCC e-VDSE training and ensure their workstation is set up accordance time learning outcomes therein.

VDU results may also need to be examined by the University Occupational Health Physician. Under law the costs of same and any VDU test or only a basic special corrective appliance for VDU use (single mid focal length) are at UCC's / employing departments’ expense

If the VDU screening test highlights that the employee's vision is perfectly adequate for VDU use at present (or whilst using pre-existing special corrective appliances already provided) but recommends that the employee should consider having their vision further examined due to other factors, then this would be a separate  employee action with their own Optician).

An Optometrist's VDU vision test may also highlight vdu use issue many fatigue or pre-existing conditions, may be resolved by normal corrective appliances (first time spectacle wearers or new prescriptions for existing wearers). Such appliances would not be at UCC's expense.

If special corrective appliances (single vision mid focal length lenses) are required solely for VDU use, then the employer - (UCC) via its department, is liable for the cost of a basic polycarbonate single vision lens and a basic durable frame - without cosmetic features such as anti-glare treatments or tints. This is providing any such appliance previously provided by UCC has proved no longer adequate for their purpose, during the screening test.

Staff who choose other frames/lenses or special treatments do so at their own cost and must arrange same directly with the Optometrist. In such circumstances the balance cost would reside with the employee direct. With the department reimbursing the basic cost (VDU lens and frame without tints)

Staff who already wear spectacles for reading or distance vision and who the optometrist deems requires special corrective appliances for VDU use have the option of:

(a) a pair of spectacles specifically for VDU use which they must interchange with their own normal spectacles as necessary as they alternate between VDU use and other non-VDU work i.e. reading, filing, reception work etc. (These spectacles should be kept at the VDU station at all times). Or

(b) Personally arranging through the optometrist to obtain spectacles incorporating bi-focal/vary focal length lenses. In such circumstances the cost of basic VDE lens and frame cost to be recouped via the department. The balance to be settled by the employee. All upon furnishing of an optometrists test report. In this way, the employee and the employer each contribute to a spectacle that fulfils the wearer's normal vision requirements and VDU vision correction requirements. (The wearer would however, be responsible for the cost of any repairs to these spectacles/frames).

Where the updating of a prescription for a standard normal corrective appliance will rectify an employee's VDU eyesight problems (i.e. where a person has a pre-existing eye condition and wears spectacles for reading), UCC/ the department is not liable for the costs involved.

Subject to the furnishing of the necessary receipts. UCC will only cover optician cost for normal VDU vision testing or normal VDU corrective appliances. (Basic lens and frame) - No cosmetic treatments or tints.

N.B. In all cases where UCC pays towards or for VDU Corrective Lenses (either incorporated with their own lenses or in special “stand alone” frames) they must be worn at all times by the staff member whilst engaged in VDU work for UCC.   Staff should also wear a similar appliance for home use VDU work.

*Note: department to then directly arrange with provider as above.

Pregnancy Job Risk Assessment

Under SHWW Pregnant Employees Regulations, a risk assessment/job assessment must be conducted at departmental level in relation to the impact of work on the person/unborn child and retained on Departmental Records. 

Upon confirmation of pregnancy, the staff member concerned must notify the HR Department UCC (mandatory). The HR department will then issue the staff member with a copy of UCC's Pregnancy Job Risk Assessment Form. The staff member must complete same in conjunction with their supervisor/manager at department level and submit same to the Health and Safety Office.

The Health and Safety Office will submit the completed form to the University Occupational Health Physician who will advise the department management if any modifications are required to the employees work activities during pregnancy or whilst nursing a newborn child.

Note: Where so advised department management and the employee must adhere to same. If it is not feasible to implement any job modifications deemed necessary for operational reasons then special leave at the rate determined by HR/the Department of Social Welfare may apply.

Work Related Vaccines

Should a UCC Staff member require a vaccine owing to work related duties then the following steps should be taken:

Head of relevant Department to directly contact Procurements selected medical service provider requesting vaccine and supplying the following information:

  • Staff member’s name/Department
  • Staff member’s staff number
  • Contact telephone number for staff member (for appointment arrangement purpose)
  • Signature of head of Department

Please note:

This is for UCC staff members only. (Students and Postgrads. – Dept. to contact Student Health Officer)

All costs to be borne by the relevant Department and will be invoiced for same by the Occupational Physician.

Student requirements (U/g and P/G) should be progressed via the Student Health Officer.

Vaccine Indication Duration of Cover Employment Examples
Hepatitis A

Infected food or water. Possible direct or indirect contact with human effluent.

An injectable vaccine. 2 doses 6 months apart.

Cover 1 year

25years if boosted in the 1st year

Plumbers, overseas travelleres ( work related), scientific researchers
Hepatitis B

Risk of contact with human body fluids including First Aiders.

Course of 3 injections over 6 months with a blood test 2 months after the last dose to check immunity.

Usually lifelong Health care workers e.g Dental Hospital, Medical Doctors/ nurses, Grounds staff, SSO's, First aiders, Scientific researchers.

Risk of laceration or injury particularly if soil contaminated. Tetanus spores are widely present in the environment including soil and animal and human faeces, getting into open wounds including from animal bites.

Injectable Vaccine. A combined vaccine with Polio and Diptehria

Cover for 10 Years. Primary course usually given in childhood with boosters required at 10 year intervals for contuining risk contact

All staff performing manual duties where there is a risk of getting a break in the skin e.g grounds staff, animal handlers, field work staff. Also overseas travel (work related).
Polio Possible direct or indirect contact with human effluent.

Cover for 10 years

Injectable vaccine - (combined vaccine with Tetanus and Diptheria)


Please note: OHP advises that while vaccination is advisable for these vaccine presentable illness, in all cases take up by individuals is voluntary. Staff who decline when offered a vaccine, must sign a waiver form, at dept level following, being advised of the risks. There will be situations where some small % of the population may not develop immunisation after vaccination.

Travel Vaccines

The following table outlines some popular holiday destinations for which the WHO, CDC and ISTM recommend vaccines.  Remember, if you are travelling anywhere outside Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, vaccinations are recommended. A work travel risk assessment should also be completed in advance. see further Document 19.3.21 of Volume 3 of the Safety statement template at :  

Country Reccommended Vaccines Occasionally Reccommended Vaccines****

Hepatitis A, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Diphtheria BCG


Hepatitis A, Tetanus

Typhoid, Hepatitis B. Polio, Diphtheria BCG


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG,Malaria, Prophylaxis,Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis

Cuba Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Polio, Rabies


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG

Grenada Hepatitis A, Tetanus

Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Polio, Diphtheria BCG, Rabies

Indonesia (Bali)

Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus, Yellow fever, Malaria Prophylaxis

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Rabies, Meningococcal vaccine


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Polio, Diphtheria BCG, Rabies, Malaria Prophylaxis


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Rabies


Polio, Tetanus

Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies


Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus

Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies


Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus\Diphtheria

Hepatitis B, Diphtheria BCG, Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis


**** Depends on length of visit, purpose of visit, regions being visited and planned activities.

Reference: US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website, Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health

Health & Safety Office

Sláinte agus Sábháilteacht

5 Carrigside, College Road, Cork