IOSH Update

Make the workplace more worker-friendly

IOSH has called for more ‘worker friendly’ workplaces in its response to the government’s Green Paper, A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work.

The response calls for better monitoring, improved prevention of long-term health problems and better health support in workplaces as part of a suite of measures to create working environments that put the health of employees first.

IOSH president, Neil Budworth, said: “With 35 million days lost and two million people suffering work-related illness, we must all understand that good health and safety really is good business, and that ‘worker friendly’ workplaces are productive and mutually beneficial.”

The response also calls for doctors, nurses, health and safety practitioners and HR professionals to work together to ensure illness or disability does not lead to permanent absence from workplaces, and for better information and incentives to be made available for employers, so that they can take back people who have been ill or are disabled.

Key arguments IOSH has put forward in the response include:

  • Those entering the workplace for the first time, returning after a long absence or changing occupation, should be given adequate safety and health awareness training.
  • Only a few thousand specialist OH doctors and nurses work in the UK. With training, IOSH believes an additional 10,000 health and safety practitioners could play an active role in preventing ill health.
  • Most doctors receive little training in occupational health – something IOSH believes must change for the government to achieve its aim of getting one million people off incapacity benefit and back into work.

Budworth added: “The government’s proposals for incapacity benefit reform have shone a much-needed light on the sad state of the nation’s OH services, and must give new impetus to improve.

“The vast majority of employers and employees in the UK have little or no access to good advice on work-related health. If the government is to achieve its target, this gaping hole must be filled.”

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