Answering the HSE's call to raise the profile of occupational health, gas utility Transco called in OH provider Liberty to come up with solutions. By Jenny MacKenzie
Steering a path for 22,000 staff through what have been some choppy waters of change for gas company Transco has been the greatest challenge for OH provider Liberty.
Liberty, which regards Transco as its biggest client, took up the Transco contract in April last year and the 15 OHAs and two RGNs who make up the Transco team are running what contract manager Sharon Horan describes as "a meaty job".
Transco was formed in 1994 eight years after British Gas was deregulated, gaining responsibility for the national gas network and gas emergency service.
The Liberty OHAs are now starting to work as a team, and at their second team-building session at Transco's Solihull headquarters in January this year, they took time to share experiences and recognise each other's achievements.
Colleagues listened to comments about the need for flexibility at a company "downsizing, streamlining and undergoing tremendous change".
An added pressure for Transco came with a Health and Safety Executive audit of the company last March. In line with the government's recommendations to raise the profile of OH in large UK companies, it was no surprise that the HSE called for OH care to be given a higher priority within Transco.
Most pressing for the Liberty team, however, has been the need to implement an effective OH care structure, after the upheavals caused by the company changes. The team needed to reclaim ownership for the company care, to establish consistency after a series of agency involvements and to update records.
Jim Gillan is the OH link for Scotland, an area that throws up specific challenges. "Many employees spend a lot of time driving," he says. "A lot work from their vans, with a lap-top and a mobile. It is quite a lonely job and many communicate this."
Health surveillance checks are carried out at the nearest office, or in outlying areas - in hotel rooms or conference centres. Full health surveillance medicals are given every three years, with those exposed to chemical-related lung functions and skin disorders being checked on a one-year basis.
"The workforce is ageing," Gillan says, "Many of