New health body to raise standards

A new trade body representing occupational health providers will help HR
managers raise workplace standards, said health and safety experts.

The Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) aims to
promote the industry by providing health and safety information and services.

COHPA deputy chairman, Dr Michael Goldsmith, said the collective hoped to
set the standard in occupational health.

"For an HR director who may not be very knowledgeable on occupational
health issues, we’re there to provide them with the help they need," said

The group, which currently comprises 15 companies, has been welcomed by
occupational health and safety experts.

Lawrence Waterman, president-elect of the Institution of Occupational Safety
and Health professional body, said he was optimistic the new group would raise
the profile of workplace health issues.

"Occupational health is the great understated issue of British
industry," said Waterman. "We welcome anything that helps raise
awareness of employers’ responsibilities and helps people, like your typical HR
manager, manage them."

Waterman, who is leading a workplace health campaign in the construction
industry, said good practice was not always easy to implement.

"It’s like holding a party with 37 types of guests," he said.
"You tend to need the help of many different professionals in an
organisation. Any help bringing people together is welcome."

A spokeswoman for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) said it was happy
to work with any group that hoped to improve industry standards.

"We encourage occupational health in the workplace, and anything that
helps that is of benefit," she said.

Goldsmith said he hoped COHPA would eventually become the most influential
group in the industry, and one that would have the ear of the Government.

By Paul Yandall

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