25 years of HSE sees workplace deaths down - but there's still much to do
We are living in a very different world to that which existed when the Health and Safety at Work Act first came into being, said HSC Commissioner Joyce Edmond-Smith, the first person to address the conference.
She pointed to the changing patterns of work which mean the service sector now represents 70 per cent of all jobs, the majority of them in firms employing less than 50 people.
A multi-disciplinary approach, making occupational health support available for small firms - multiple jobholders, agency workers, home workers and people working away from base - is essential, she said.
Although much has been achieved in the quarter-century that the HSE has been in existence, with the number of workplace deaths now a quarter of what it was then, there is much to be done to meet the challenges of the next millennium.
She spoke about the new health challenges that occupational health professionals were faced with: an older workforce, workers coping with chronic conditions, pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace and the new uncertainties posed by new technology.
The old health challenges still persist, she added. In all, 2 million people in Britain have a health problem which they believe is caused by work.
"If we are to meet these challenges we must adapt, we must take risks and try new approaches and we must give a new impetus to our activities," she said.