Numbers of local authority are dropping and this means work for OH nurses
The health and safety of millions of workers around the country is being put
at risk because of a big reduction in local authority inspectors, the TUC has
And picking up the pieces of such cuts will, in part, inevitably fall on
occupational health nurses, both in primary care and those working in industry,
the unions’ body has warned.
Over the past four years the number of local authority inspectors has fallen
by 360, or 24 per cent, while injuries in the service sector – the area that
councils are responsible for – have risen by 4,112, or 15 per cent, the TUC
An increasing number of service sector injuries are being reported in
leisure centres, banks, shops, call centres, care homes and hairdressing
salons, which have seen injuries rise from 26,709 in 1996/97 to 30,821 in
The increase comes at a time when injury rates have been falling across the
economy as a whole, argued the TUC.
In 1998/99, the last year figures were available, 10 workers were killed in
the service sector, with a further 30,000 suffering serious injury, including
broken limbs, amputation and loss of sight, the survey found.
Scotland had seen the greatest drop in the number of council inspectors, it
Owen Tudor, the TUC’s senior policy officer working with prevention,
rehabilitation and compensation, said, when fewer inspectors are available, a
workforce often depended more on OH nurses.
"But they are not an alternative – and bluntly, there are not enough of
either," he added.
While there would be an impact on OH nurses working in industry,
particularly in sectors with larger employers such as banking, the main onus
would fall on OH nurses in the primary care setting.
"People getting injured, where there is not an OH nurse on site, will
have to go off to their GP, which will mean an increase in workload for OH
nurses in primary care," he said.