Occupational and Environmental Physicians for Medico-Legal Matters

Occupational and Environmental Physicians are frequently engaged by employers, law firms and insurance companies due to their specialised knowledge of general medicine. They are commonly asked to provide opinion on health issues that may be impacting an individual's ability to undertake employment. Read below to better understand the medico-legal insights these medical professionals provide.

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What is an Occupational and Environmental Physician?

An Occupational and Environmental Physician is a medical specialist who focuses on the impact of work and the environment on an individual’s health. They are trained to assess and manage health issues related to workplaces and environmental exposures. Occupational and Environmental Physicians, often referred to as OEPs, play a crucial role in providing expertise on how work conditions or environmental factors may contribute to injuries or illnesses. Their assessments can be valuable in the context of medico-legal cases, such as those handled by Red Health, to determine the impact of injuries or illnesses on individuals in various aspects of their life.

What Conditions Do Occupational and Environmental Physicians Address?

With a deep sense of understanding of general medicine, OEPs can address a wide variety of medical conditions including mental health. They are often asked to provide comment on occupation-related conditions such as repetitive strain injuries, exposure to hazardous materials, and work-induced respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. They also provide an important role in determining methods of returning workers back to employment following injury or illness.

How Do Occupational Physicians Work with Red Health?

All Medical Experts on the Red Health Referral Network can provide medico-legal opinion on conditions common to their specialty and will be able to provide extensive and expert opinion on their selected special interests. Clients of Red Health have access to our Occupational and Environmental Physician’s special interests, and our full list of available Medical Experts.

Red Health doesn’t offer appointments with our Referral Network for treatment – appointments with Red Health are only for providing medico-legal opinions.

What Subspecialties Do Occupational and Environmental Physicians Specialise In?

Occupational and Environmental Medicine is a very broad sector with many physicians choosing to specialise in:

  • Occupational medicine (occupational health)
  • Environmental medicine
  • Occupational hygiene
  • Travel medicine
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • Disability management
  • Workplace ergonomics
  • Occupational dermatology
  • Occupational respiratory diseases

What Matters and Conditions Can Occupational and Environmental Physicians Assess?


Clients regularly refer to Occupational and Environmental Physicians from the Red Health Referral Network to access independent medical opinion on matters pertaining to claims related to Workplace Accidents, Occupational Diseases, Workers’ Compensation. They are also a vital part in determining an individuals fitness for work where opinion is highly valued on return to work recommendations and WHS compliance. It is common to find the opinion of an Occupational and Environmental Physician in the following claim types; Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA), Compulsory Third-Party Insurance (CTP), Total and Permanent Disability (TPD), Workers’ Compensation (WC), Public Liability (PL) and Incapacity and Permanent Impairment.


Occupational and Environmental Physicians, with their extensive understanding of general and occupational medicine, can offer insights on how an injury or illness impacts an individuals ability to perform their employment. Some common conditions include:

  • Musculoskeletal and repetitive strain injuries
  • Work-related mental health issues
  • Cardiovascular i.e., stroke, high blood pressure
  • General medical conditions i.e., epilepsy, diabetes, vision, hearing loss
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Respiratory diseases i.e., silicosis

Medico-Legal FAQ for Occupational and Environmental Physicians

How does an Occupational and Environmental Physician assess an individual's work capacity?

Assessing fitness for duty is a large part of an Occupational and Environmental Physicians role.

When assessing an individual’s fitness for work, they consider a range of factors to ensure a comprehensive evaluation. These factors may include:

  • medical history
  • clinical examination
  • functional capacity (specialised test done by an allied health practitioner)
  • position description and job demands
  • workplace environment
  • treatment and medication
  • rehabilitation
  • psychosocial factors

How do Occupational and Environmental Physicians contribute to workplace safety?

Through their dedicated expertise, Occupational and Environmental Physicians provide valuable recommendations on preventing workplace illnesses and injuries, return to work, and ensuring a conducive environment for mental well-being. When providing opinion on an individuals work capacity they consider the relevant workplace health and safety legislation alongside specific organisational policies to minimise incidents occurring in the workplace.

What differentiates an Occupational and Environmental Physician from a General Practitioner?

The main differences between a General Practitioner and an Occupational and Environmental Physician lie in their focus, training, and the scope of their practice.

GPs are primary care practitioners who provide comprehensive medical care to individuals of all ages. They are generalists trained to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of health conditions, including acute illnesses, chronic diseases, and preventive care.

OEPs specialise in assessing and managing health issues related to workplaces and environmental exposures. They focus on the impact of work and environmental factors on an individual’s health, often dealing with occupational injuries, illnesses, and issues specific to the workplace.

GPs undergo general medical training, usually completing a Bachelor’s degree followed by a medical degree. OEPs are medical specialists who undergo additional training after completing their general medical education. This training is specific to the field of occupational medicine and includes aspects of environmental health. OEPs typically become Fellows of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM).

How long does a medico-legal consultation with an Occupational and Environmental Physician typically last?

Depending on the intricacies of the case and the depth of insights required, consultations can range from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Providing all relevant medical records and documents beforehand ensures a thorough and efficient independent medical assessment.

Education, Certification, and Training for Occupational and Environmental Physicians

For an Occupational and Environmental Physician to provide their independent medical opinion as a medical expert witness, they must have adequate clinical experience and a working knowledge of relevant guidelines, legislation and methodology used in this practice area. Many accreditations and training courses are available which support them in developing the additional skills required to become a medical expert witness. Medical experts must be accredited for some referrals before providing assessments or commenting on areas such as permanent impairment.

Common Occupational and Environmental Physician acronyms explained


Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


Bachelor of Science


Doctor of Medicine


Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery




Member of the Royal College of Physicians


Australasian Medical Review Officers Association


Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, A.K.A, Royal Australasian College of Physicians


Fellow of the Australasian College of Legal Medicine


Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice

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