Major survey reveals mixed attitudes to OH services across industry
Occupational health services are in need of major improvement, the CBI has
In a large-scale survey of companies employing a total of 1.8 million
people, the employers’ body uncovered a patchy approach to OH, with fewer than
half of construction firms giving it a high priority.
Other safety-critical industries showed a more responsible approach, with 71
per cent of offshore enterprises and 64 per cent of those in the chemicals
sector considering occupational health a high priority.
But the true picture may be worse. Because the sample was self-selecting, it
reflected the views of those more likely to have an interest in OH, said the
The confederation urged partnerships between employers, trade unions,
Government and employees to improve health in the workplace.
It said smaller companies received inadequate advice and the Health &
Safety Executive should shift its emphasis from target-setting to providing
support and guidance. It concluded that specialist OH providers were the most
appropriate for smaller firms and called for financial incentives to use them,
and for insurance companies to encourage greater take-up.
The Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners welcomed the
CBI’s initiative in urging its members to make OH a priority. "It is not a
core part of business at present and we welcome anything that can be done to
persuade people to recognise it more," said AOHNP secretary Cathy Howells.
The CBI report includes good practice case studies. In one, a medium-sized
manufacturer cut the number of days lost through musculo-skeletal disorders by
47 per cent after introducing manual handling instruction and a physiotherapy
It also gives data, broken down by sector and size of organisation, on
sickness absence and OH services.