Share and share alike

review of the second study day held by the Ayrshire Occupational Health Nurses’
Group, formed in 1997, to encourage networking and professional development, by
Sarah Agnew

symposium, which was open to all practitioners and associates in the field of
OH nursing, was formally opened by Francis Baker, of Napier University, who
highlighted the importance of learning, and questioned whether it occurred as a
result of absorbing knowledge, or by questioning the receipt of knowledge, and
whether it is the experience or the authority that counts when learning. Baker
herself has recently become a member of the Faculty of Homeopathy, in which
there are only eight registered nurses.

MacRae, from Ayrshire and Arran NHS Health Board, introduced Scotland’s Health
at Work Award (SHWA) and highlighted a framework for health improvement,
saying: “Government White Papers are now recognising SHWA as a leading health
promotion initiative.” There is an online booking system for free information
(see weblink).

McIntyre, a health and safety consultant from Hodgins Smith Safety Consultants,
advised on the recent changes in health and safety legislation, particularly
the asbestos regulations that are due to be fully in force by May 2004. Another
interesting subject was the use of mobile phones while driving as a workplace
activity, and their implications for employers and occupational health
practitioners (see legal, page 12).

McKendrick, an ergonomist from Associated Health Specialists, presented a
personal perspective on managing lower back pain.

of the main concerns she raised was the lack of risk assessments and control
measures within many workplaces – regardless of the recommendations made by OH
professionals. She reiterated the fact that manual handling training should be
seen as a supplement and not as a substitute for risk assessment.

solicitor Michael Lamont gave a lively presentation on the legal aspects of
managing absence, particularly unfair dismissals in the case of both short and
long-term absence. This opened up some debate on how employers manage
disability, frequent and persistent short-term absences and capability issues.

Barrowman, area nurse manager at BMI Health Services, opened the afternoon

Chadwick, director of the RSI Association gave an overview of repetitive strain
industry (RSI) and the cost to business. The RSI Association was founded in
1989, and is the only organisation of its kind in the UK. It has a journal and
a website giving free and useful information.

also gave information on management and treatment for RSI conditions. In
particular, he discussed the negative cycle of stress and problems with
healing. He also explained the five steps to recovery information, which is
available on their website. He is keen to get in touch with occupational health
practitioners, and he promoted the RSI awareness week and conference – 23-29
February 2004 (see weblink).

Innes, lecturer Glasgow Caledonian University, presented a literature review on
‘Aspects of Health Risk Associated with Call Centre Working’. As the number of
call centres grows, so do the associated health problem, and Innes pointed out
that there are very few academic papers published in this area. She gave an
overview of health risks including visual difficulties, work-related upper limb
disorders, acoustic shock and mental health issues.

Murray, regional director, Scotland, of Wellwork, delivered a lively
presentation addressing practical challenges for the OH practitioner, which
encouraged debate on professional development issues and the future education
of occupational health nurses, as well as the political agenda.

closed the day by calling for more research and best practice to be shared between
OH practitioners and concluded that nothing was as constant as change, and
change makes challenges.

the day, stands were available during registration and lunch demonstrating skin
care products, developments in IT within occupational health, and various
pieces of equipment and OH recruitment.

the symposium was a worthwhile experience – not just from the point of
attending but the opportunity of networking with colleagues and other
associations. We are always grateful for feedback from the delegates, and it
has been interesting to read through the evaluations. The fact that we have
already had topics suggested for next year is a positive reflection on this
year’s study day. I would like to thank the speakers and organisations that made
the day such a success.

Agnew is group secretary of Ayrshire Occupational Health Nurse’s Group. If you
are interested in attending or speaking at a group meeting, please contact

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