An occupational health professional is, technically, never off duty - even while on leave - so they are inadvertently exempt from the Working Time Regulations.
Proposed Working Time (Occupational Health Amendment) Regulations are now being prepared, with a year-long period of consultation ending on 31 March 2006. Opinions will be gratefully received by the under-secretary of employment (Leisure-Education Specialist Scoping), with special responsibility for OH affairs during the consultation period.
'As if it were a workplace'
The Health & Safety Executive's (HSE) newly-created 'working holiday department' has been carrying out a report into the need for constant vigilance, which can only be exerted by trained occupational health personnel. As a result, the following preliminary outline of information to be contained in the guidelines has been drafted.
Risk assessments are particularly required to avoid repetitive strain injuries on lever-operated gambling machines. The dangers of poker machines are well-known. Traditional gambling, such as the use of betting shops, has its own dangers, since there may be passive smoking hazards. Above all, the tensions engendered by the uncertainty of the outcome of the observed sporting activity or, worse, participating in it, can lead to disability considerations, such as the inability to concentrate leading to the despair of, for example, failing to spot a winner. Occupational health personnel on holiday in Las Vegas should never fail to alert the UK HSE of the risks to British travellers.
Whether participating in sport at an active or proficient level, it would be negligent for a member of the OH profession to fail to advise fellow participants on safety procedures.
At the start of the holiday, usually on boarding the coach to the destination, a written report should be compiled. The use of a data-protected questionnaire is strongly recommended to accumulate the necessary detail.
Upon its completion, it should be copied to the travel agent, as well as the HSE, covering concerns that have arisen, whether there is any basis for them or not. The final assessment will of course be completed at governmental level.
As the likely outcome of an adverse report will be abolition of the sport in question, it is natural that confidentiality must be respected in full. Therefore,