Putting ‘sickies’ into perspective
The debate between the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and TUC over workers’ sick leave shows two extreme views, with the truth lying somewhere in between, according to IOSH president Lawrence Waterman.
An article in The Guardian claimed the two organisations were involved in a ‘row’ after the CBI claimed that too many workers were willing to “throw a sickie” to extend their weekends. The TUC hit back by accusing the employers’ body of “exaggerating the problem”.
Lawrence said: “There is no doubt that too many people take time off claiming illness. The trouble is their behaviour acts as a smokescreen for the very high levels of ill health directly caused by work. There aren’t many bricklayers who can ‘fake’ dermatitis, but it is estimated that the industry loses up to 10% of all skilled bricklayers because of this disease, caused by handling wet mortar.
“So let’s have a little less megaphone diplomacy and a bit more recognition that there are two problems to be solved – reducing the number of people genuinely made ill by their work and making it harder for people to fake it for a few extra days off.”
Best conference yet
IOSH also held its annual conference in Cardiff in April, with more than 700 delegates in attendance to hear from a host of leading international speakers and more than 90 exhibition stands.
First minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan, was in attendance to open the event and spoke passionately about the need for the safety and health profession to focus more closely on OH issues.
“There’s been a transformation in occupational safety over the past 30 years. Occupational health, however, is still a big, big challenge. The difficulty is that you can see people falling off scaffolds and buildings, but you can’t always see problems with occupational health. We want a healthier, wealthier and smarter Wales,” Morgan said.