AN OCCUPATIONAL health specialist has said the high costs of absences to businesses are just the tip of the iceberg.

Anita Churchhouse, owner of Occua, based in Trowbridge but serves businesses in Swindon, set up her own company 18 months ago to help businesses take occupational health in-house.

She offers a range of services for prevention and promotion aimed at reducing the amount of lost days to sickness or absence to businesses

Annual reports by Chartered Institute and Personal Development report that absences or sickness costs around £500 a year per person per businesses.

But there are hidden costs that are difficult to measure according to Anita.

"That might not sounds like much its very much the tip of the iceberg," she said.

"That’s the direct cost, it doesn’t take into account things like agency cover, lost production, the cost of presenteeism.

“Those costs are quite difficult to quantify because you can say what’s the cost of that person’s health on the lost productivity."

Presenteeism is when employees are at work but not functioning because of stress or poor mental or physical health health issues.

She added: "Selling health is not an easy thing to do, because people don’t necessarily see immediate benefits, but from a health perspective it’s more the long-term help that can really make the difference.

“Businesses that concentrate on well-being initiatives and try to provide more health and safety activities are able to achieve greater success in the long-term. Those that don't look after their staff end up applying more costs on absence management and turnover of staff."

Anita also provides help with campaigns like healthy eating, and encouraging exercising teams, cancer awareness, stress management awareness, as well as ergonomic risks.