This month’s Occupational Health news

Stress-busting guide for call centres

Finance sector unions have launched a new guide on how to tackle stress and
very high staff turnover in call centres. The guide, produced by the Alliance
for Finance – a partnership of 21 trade unions and staff associations within
the UK financial sector – suggests ways to tackle unacceptable targets, lack of
control over workloads, boring and repetitive work, noise pollution and

RSI awareness

The RSI Association is to hold a major conference on RSI to mark the fourth
International RSI Awareness Day on Friday 28 February.

Mental health week

This year’s Mental Health Action Week 2003, organised by the Mental Health
Foundation, will take place on 20-26 April 2003. On 22 April, the foundation
will launch the results of a survey examining work-life balance and its effects
on mental health.


The web address for the Vaccine Administration Taskforce site was printed
incorrectly last month (Review – OH January 2003). The correct address is  We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

MS scare for nurse anaesthetists

Nurse anaesthetists may be at greater risk of contracting multiple sclerosis
because of their exposure to volatile anaesthetics, a study has suggested. Such
anaesthetics are chemically related to organic solvents used in industry,
exposure to which may increase the incidence of MS. The study, published in the
journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found 11 out of 13 nurses
studied in Sweden were exposed before contracting MS.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

H&S improvements

Local authorities need to take urgent action to improve their health and
safety records if they are to meet Government targets, the Health and Safety
Commission said. Bill Callaghan, chairman of the HSC, said there was a worrying
decline in resources allocated to health and safety enforcement and a reduction
in inspection and enforcement activity.

Male nurse increase

One in 10 nurses in the UK is now a man according to the latest statistics
from the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Annual statistics, covering the year to
the end of March 2002, showed that more than 10 per cent of those on the
register were men.

Plant firm payout

A plant hire firm, Lock Brothers of Erith, Kent, has been fined £5,000 and
ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation and £2,450 costs after a lorry driver
received serious head injuries at a building site in February last year. The
driver fell 20 foot off a first floor slab that had been left without any
physical barrier around it.

HSE set to cut falls

The HSE has joined forces with trade unions UCATT and Amicus, and industry
body the Electrical Contractors Association to launch a pilot project aimed at
reducing falls from heights. The initiative involves ‘toolbox’ talks providing
information on ladder safety, and distributing advice cards.

Pregnancy guidelines

Guidance to help employers ensure pregnant women have a safe and healthy
experience at work has been published by the HSE. Employers must carry out a
proper risk assessment to identify potential hazards to pregnant workers. The
guide, New and Expectant Mothers at Work, A Guide for Employers, explains how
this can be achieved.

Fire regulations

New regulations to control fire and explosion risks from dangerous
substances and potentially explosive atmospheres came into force in December.
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
will implement the requirements of two European Union directives.

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