An influential committee of MPs has added its weight to calls for the government to offer employers financial incentives to encourage them to spend money on vocational rehabilitation programmes.
The Commons Work and Pensions Committee, in a report on the role of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also concluded that the HSE "is struggling to cope with its occupational health remit", because its OH policy is based, by its own admission, on incomplete data, and because it is failing to meet its OH targets.
The committee, chaired by Bradford MP Terry Rooney, backed national director for health and work Dame Carol Black in her call for a fit for work service, but argued this was not something that could be provided by the HSE.
"We also believe that there may be a need for financial incentives for employers to engage in rehabilitation programmes for injured or sick employees," it concluded.
The wide-ranging report argued that current levels of fines for health and safety offences were too low and were an insufficient deterrent.
The HSE could also be doing more to make health and safety information accessible and easier to understand. And the MPs expressed concern that the "HSE's construction inspectorate is not adequately resourced to ensure the maintenance of health and safety standards in the construction industry".
However, it applauded the HSE's work in developing its stress management standards, although it suggested that more could be done to spread the message to smaller businesses.
"We believe that there is potential for HSE to build on its stress management standards as a tool to demonstrate what a 'good', healthy workplace should be including what constitutes a good occupational health structure within an organisation," the committee said.
And it said it did not believe "exhortation" would be enough to engage employers in the provision of vocational rehabilitation.