"Broaden your vision" is the message the profession has given the HSE following the publication of its discussion document on developing an occupational health strategy for the UK.
The HSE received more than 560 written responses to the document and further comments were made by some of the 320 people who attended open meetings. It has now made available a summary of the responses it received.
Most respondents, 84 per cent, agreed that the strategy should encompass the wider values people associate with and the aspirations they have for OH, while the 17 per cent who disagreed did so mainly because the values do not appear to recognise that work is fundamentally good for people as opposed to being a source of harm.
Respondents felt the vision is too narrow and needs to be more positive. It was suggested that the vision should:
- Embrace the positive contribution that work can have for health.
- Address the effect of health on work, as well as the effect of work on health.
- Provide for health in the workplace, not just the prevention of ill-health.
- Not use the term "ill-health" as it limits the scope of the vision.
- Include the effects of work on society and the environment.
- Embrace opportunity for work issues.
On the issue of how to sell the benefits of occupational health to employers, many respondents felt that a cost-benefit approach should be pursued, emphasising the costs to business and the individual, including invisible costs such as management time and costs obscured by insurance.
The HSE is taking all these comments into consideration as it develops a final strategy for the Health and Safety Commission to agree. It is likely to be launched this spring.