A council on Merseyside is launching an innovative internal health unit,
bringing together its occupational health, employee counselling, health and
safety and health promotion functions under one roof.
The move by Sefton council is believed to be the first time four such
functions have been brought together in this way. The internal health unit will
work out of the personnel department but retain complete autonomy.
Previously the council had an internal health and safety function and
purchased an OH service externally, managed via the health and safety function.
Alan Manchester, health and safety manager at the council, said he wanted to
see more seamless tackling of OH and health and safety issues – with a closer
relationship to employees’ actual working circumstances – as well as to instil
a culture shift whereby different functions worked more closely together.
"There should be the possibility to learn together and support each
other," he said.
In the longer term he hoped to ensure greater intervention to help workers
before problems got to the point where they had to take time off work.
"I do not want the primary reason for contact with the service to be
one of absence. I would want to be looking at problems that might be arising
prior to absence," he said.
Sefton council hopes the unit will be up and running from 1 October,
depending on when premises become free.