Practical Ethics in Occupational Health
By Peter Westerholm, Tore Nilstun, John Ovretveit
Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing
This textbook is a must for every OH department as it covers all aspects of ethics and confidentiality, doing so in a practical manner and using case studies to explore issues and explain the rationale behind many difficult decisions.
Chapters cover both the theoretical aspects of ethics and areas specific to OH, such as risk assessment, health surveillance, drug and alcohol abuse and sickness absence management. Each chapter follows a similar pattern, exploring the key ethical points of beneficence, autonomy and justice, with concluding comments or final thoughts.
However, although it is aimed at a European market, it is written from a northern European perspective and therefore does not take into account the different cultural issues and attitudes to OH in the EU.
Unfortunately, as this book is written mainly by physicians, it is very medically and clinically orientated, with only one OH nurse contributor – Dr Stuart Whitaker (see ethics article on page 20).
Occupational hygiene, management and the unions have similarly limited representation, which is why the chapter written by Laurent Vogel, from the European Trade Union Technical Bureau, is particularly useful.
It seems that many of the controversial issues highlighted by the medical writers had been discussed at length in the nursing arena, and that the nursing profession had given clearer guidelines to its practitioners.
That being said the book is still an invaluable text for all OH practitioners and, in particular, those new to the profession or studying for specialist or higher qualifications.
Reviewed by OH consultant Greta Thornbory MSc RGN OHNC DipN OH PGCEA MIOSH