Occupational Health Awards 2007: Kays Medical Award for Innovation in Occupational Health

Category judge: Christina Butterworth, health risk manager, BG Group HSSE

Christina Butterworth has worked in OH for 18 years. Her present role is health risk manager for BG Group, with responsibility for developing and implementing health standards, providing strategic occupational health advice and auditing both medical facilities and BG businesses around the world. She is chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s OH Managers Forum and has helped to develop two RCN publications: Clinical Supervision in the Workplace – Guidance for Occupational Health Nurses, and Competencies: An Integrated Career and competency framework for Occupational Health.

Shortlisted teams:

Hampshire Constabulary

About the organisation: Hampshire Constabulary employs 6,800 people.

The challenge: The force needed to resolve the issue of a number of officers being on restricted duties, which was leading to job dissatisfaction and illness.

What the team did: The OH team identified that of the 403 roles available to police officers, only 174 were high risk. A risk profile was introduced for all roles, allowing officers to return to full duties. Six other police forces now plan to adopt the approach.

Judge’s comment: “The innovation demonstrated one of the core benefits of good occupational health by introducing a risk-based rehabilitation programme that did not rely on previously-accepted generic risk criteria. Working with key stakeholders they were able to demonstrate how a change in perspective would provide benefits to the organisation and the employee in terms of meaningful work and productivity.”

Health Management

About the organisation: The team of four OH advisers worked for an investment bank to help eight disabled candidates for summer internships in 2006.

The challenge: There was a lack of pre-employment information and the individuals worked across numerous departments and had a range of disabilities.

What the team did: The OH team arranged reasonable adjustments and personal risk assessments. As a result, the bank now has a process in place for disabled staff in the future.

Judge’s comment: “By concentrating on employees’ ability to work, rather than the restrictions imposed by their disability, the occupational health team were able to support these previously excluded people on to the internship programme. In doing so, they showed the value of good occupational health intervention in employee fitness for work, meeting good business practice, and raising the profile of OH and the organisation.”

Surrey Police

About the organisation: The force employs about 2,000 officers and 2,000 civilian staff, and faced spiralling private medical insurance premiums.

The challenge: The force had to find an alternative to the popular private medical insurance scheme, as well as reduce the 2002-03 absence rate of 11.5 days per employee.

What the team did: It introduced funding for targeted treatment for musculoskeletal disorders using private healthcare and initiatives, including health screening and an employee assistance programme. The overall absence rate has now fallen to less than nine days.

Judge’s comment: “The occupational health team was faced with the challenge of managing ill health intervention costs within the same budget. Rather than looking for an alternative provider, they completely diversified and found a provider that could deliver a more targeted alternative. The new programme was able to tackle the major health issues and, in doing so, significantly reduced sickness absence and improved psychological and physical wellbeing.”

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