The European perspective

The bi-annual board meeting of the FOHNEU was held on 19-21 September and
discussed the vital role OH nurses have to play in the health of the European
Union, by Charles McGraham

The Federation of Occupational Health Nurses within the European Union (FOHNEU)
held its bi-annual board meeting in London on 19-21 September 2002. It was
hosted by the RCN OHN European Working Group and received generous sponsorship
from the Mid Downs OHN Group.

At the HSE-sponsored official reception, Sandra Caldwell, head of the Health
Division, congratulated FOHNEU on its growing role of linking and representing
the group of health and safety practitioners with the closest daily contact
with Europe’s working population.

A proactive challenge

After explaining the HSE/Health Division’s approach to combating and
reducing incidents of occupational ill-health, Caldwell challenged delegates to
be proactive both in their approach to solutions to control emerging
occupational ill-health issues, and in dealing with historical, but still
present, problems.

She then introduced Owen Tudor who represented the Health and Safety
Commission. Owen, having explained his position in representing employees on
the HSC, acknowledged the vital role and contribution of OH nurses in the care
of workers.

Also present were Roswyn Hakesley-Brown, president of the RCN; Sharon Horan,
chair of the RCN Society of Occupational Nurses; Bernie Jackson, chair of the
RCN OH Managers Group; and David Snashall, HSE’s chief medical adviser.

High-profile attendees

The following evening, HSC chairman Bill Callaghan joined the delegates.
Colleagues representing other EU member states were impressed that the head of
the health division, and two people from the HSC, in particular the chairman,
were willing to take time to demonstrate their interest and appreciation of the
contribution that OHNs make to the health of Europe’s workforce.

RCN president Roswyn Hakesley-Brown gave a short speech saying that it was
clear to her that a good OH service is crucial to both the health as well as
the wealth of nations.

"A healthy workforce equals a healthy economy, which equals the
facility for a country’s reinvestment in healthier and other social
infrastructures. Doing the right thing in the right way at the right time is
something that OH nurses have cause to celebrate in their multifaceted roles.
They’re there where the client groups are, in the workplace where it matters,
keeping workers safe."

Charles McGraham is HM Inspector of Health and Safety (OH) and chair of
the UK RCN OHN European Working Group


The Federation of Occupational Health
Nurses within the European Union represents Europe’s 45,000-plus OH nurses and
aims to:

– Ensure that OHNs in the EU are competent and fully equipped
to contribute to the health, safety and well-being of Europe’s working

– Encourage OHNs to carry out practice and practice research

– Establish links and networking opportunities between OH and
safety practitioners in the various countries so they can support and inform
each other. To share ideas and best practice in order to provide
cost-effective, quality healthcare for Europe’s businesses

– Establish contact and maintain dialogue with and support the
main EU bodies responsible for health and safety and key international nursing

– Ensure the role of the OHN is recognised by governments,
employers and employee representatives

European Week for Safety and Health

This year’s European Week for Safety
and Health was marked by a variety of events and conferences with an emphasis
on psychosocial stress.

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