In his talk, ‘Investing in the future of occupational health’, Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC), said it is an exciting time for new developments in the OH profession.
He outlined some current OH pilots being run by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Describing some of the pilots under way, Callaghan said that ‘Constructing Better Health’, launched last October, is a culmination of a partnership between government, employers and unions, involving people at the heart of the construction industry who want to make a difference.
Another pilot, Safe and Healthy Working, aims to give small and medium-sized businesses in Scotland access to an OH service, and there are a number of other small-scale pilots under way that represent a shift in emphasis to being proactive rather than reactive, by solving problems before people become ill.
OH practitioners can play a key role in persuading managers to keep in touch with people on sick leave to encourage them back to work.
Callaghan also said that the HSE’s campaign to help tackle musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) is working, but more still needs to be done, and the HSE is planning a ‘blitz on back pain’ in the summer.
Leadership will play a key role in the future, he added, and the HSE is compiling examples of where individuals have made a difference to health and safety. “If you know of someone who has made a difference, let me know and we will publish the case studies later in the year,” he promised.
The HSE is providing an evidence base and a variety of health and safety pilots and initiatives for OH, said Callaghan. “But, what else does the OH profession need?” he asked. “Tell us and participate.”