In her keynote speech, Shona Robison, shadow minister for health, and social
justice and Scottish Nationalist MSP for Dundee East, said the Government’s new
strategy on workplace health and safety must be backed up with better terms and
conditions for occupational health nurses (OHNs).
Commenting on Scotland’s "appalling health record and worrying low life
expectancy", Robison said she would be happy to back an all out smoking
ban in public places where food is served.
She told delegates that the death rates from heart disease and cancer were
too high, and that OHNs play an important role in making both workers and the
work environment healthier. However, despite OH services being well placed to
take a health promotion role and so help to reduce health inequalities, not
enough employees of smaller organisations have access to OH.
During her speech, Robison also spoke about the level of bullying and
aggression in the workplace, saying the number of attacks on public sector
workers staggered her – in particular, those on healthcare workers.
"This is totally unacceptable. I support a zero tolerance level, with
attacks on any staff being considered an aggravated assault," she said
She also pointed out that a growing demand brings with it the problem of
finding enough OHNs to do the job. She said that in Scotland, registered nurses
with no, or still to be completed, OH-specific training now fill 50 per cent of
She said that if the Government’s new strategy on workplace health and
safety puts OH at the forefront, it must back it up with training and better
terms and conditions.