Culture of disillusion sweeps OH profession

Many occupational health staff are
disillusioned with the profession, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s
sister magazine, Occupational Health.

Forty-three per cent
of respondents claim that occupational health is not given enough priority in
their company and 40 per cent claim that their lack of status within their
organisation is reducing their job satisfaction.

In the survey of 457
OH professionals, many felt undervalued, unappreciated and misunderstood by
their employers

One said, "I’m
seen only to keep employees in work and hand out plasters and paracetamol. It
is difficult for managers to see the need for noise/dust monitoring, screening
and so on."

Another said, "We
are tolerated because we have to be, but our office is so out of the way a
route map is necessary. OH is an afterthought by managers and only thought
about when the problem is ours."

Many respondents felt
that OH is viewed as a second tier to human resources or health and safety. One
said, "Many managers see OH as a cost and not a means of reducing
overheads. The Government has focused on safety over the years but not on OH.
This does not seem to be changing.’

Lack of resources was
a major issue for many of the OH professionals who responded to the survey,
with many citing poor access to computers and the Internet, and even office
support.

In response to a
question on their departments’ priorities in the year ahead, 15 per cent
answered sickness absence or absence management, and a further 9 per cent
picked health surveillance. Stress-related health issues were high, named by 8
per cent of respondents as their top priority.

Raising the profile of
OH, developing and improving the OH service further, health promotion,
education, musculoskeletal issues and increasing health awareness were also
high lighted as important.

By Eliza O’Driscoll

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