Changing times for occupational health

This is my first issue as editor of Occupational Health, and there couldn’t be a more exciting moment to take the helm. There’s never been a better time for occupational health – it’s very high on the government’s agenda, and the Health and Safety Executive’s agenda. And those are not my words. It’s what Dr Andrew Curran of the Health and Safety Laboratory told delegates at last month’s SOHN conference.

Almost everybody working in OH thinks the government’s ‘Health, work and wellbeing’ strategy should put OH higher up the public health agenda, along with the appointment of a new Occupational Health Director. As the minister responsible for OH, Lord Hunt, told Occupational Health, we need to “get OH out of the hut at the end of the corridor and into the mainstream.” Our article looks at what these developments might mean in practice.

The strategy offers opportunities and challenges. A big concern is how it can be achieved with too few qualified OH nurse practitioners. We should all take part in the debate about the respective roles of qualified OH nurses and technicians, and indeed the whole range of partners involved in delivering OH services in today’s workplaces.

The role of this journal is to support all those who work in the OH arena to play their part in improving public health. The best way to do this is to spread the word about good practice and build up the evidence base that will raise standards in OH delivery.

We would like to hear from all of you who are making a difference in the workplace, so please do not hesitate to contact Occupational Health with your research, stories and opinions. Likewise, if there is something you would like to see addressed in these pages, please let us know. This is your journal – we look forward to hearing from you.

By Noel O’Reilly, editor

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