Managing occupational health in a european business

A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play" may once have helped to
sell millions of chocolate bars but what are the real challenges of
occupational safety and health management facing major European companies?
These were addressed in a case study presentation by European Occupational
Health Physician at Mars Europe Dr Stephen Deacon, at the Institution of
Occupational Safety and Health’s conference in London last month on the
challenges ahead for the profession.

Dr Deacon drew attention to the extensive health and safety framework
created by technical standards, European Union and member state legislation,
and articles 95, 137, and 140 of the European Treaty.

Despite these common standards and the existence of specific directives on
different aspects of risk assessment, there is no single recommended
methodology for risk assessment, nor are "competent persons" well
defined. Taken together with cultural and language differences, developing a
European overview is difficult for any multinational business. Not
surprisingly, there are noticeable differences in injury and disability rates
across Europe.

He pointed out that Mars Europe is a highly complex organisation. It has
five business divisions, 14,000 associates, 60 locations, 30 safety managers,
20 OH doctors, 60 OH nurses, different reporting lines for safety, health, and
environment and an organisation culture of "diversity". To manage
this complexity, the company has adopted a threefold approach embodying five principles
– quality, responsibility, efficiency, mutuality and freedom combined with
corporate standards – 12 global safety procedures, and a blueprint for
occupational health with guidelines for implementing OH services.

And the outcome of all this effort? Deacon said the company’s injury,
absence and disability rates are at least equal to, or in many instances better
than, the national rates in the countries in which it operates.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health represents 25,000 safety
and health professionals in industry, commerce and the public sector. Tel:
0116-257 3100;

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