Occupational Health Awards 2008: the winners

Overall winner and winner: Award for Innovation in Occupational Health
Constructing Better Health
Judge: Sharon Horan, occupational health consultant

Constructing Better Health tackled the special problems of the building sector, including a transient workforce and fears of litigation, and set industry standards for work-related health and OH competence, as well as building an innovative knowledge portal and centralised workforce database.

The overall winner was selected by a panel of judges, who are all leading figures in occupational health:

  • Cathy Harrison, senior professional adviser, occupational health, health and work, and national lead, Condition Management Programme, Department of Health

  • Dr Gordon Parker, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, consultant occupational physician

  • Julie Staun, president of the Federation of Occupational Health Nurses in the European Union

  • Dr Stuart Whitaker, senior lecturer in occupational health, University of Cumbria

Comments from the overall winner judging panel:

“This project showed leadership and a clear strategy evident in the wide consultation that led to a national approach to occupational health from a local pilot. It was an outstanding achievement to consolidate diverse interests, cultures and traditions in one of the most complex industry sectors, including small companies and the self-employed. The project developed national standards for delivery and data collection with benefits for both employer and employee. It has reached a very wide audience and has the potential to be adapted as a European model.”

Award for Absence Management
Welsh Assembly
Judge: Graham Johnson, operations manager, Bupa Wellness

From an absence rate of more than 12 days lost per employee in 2002 at a cost of £600,000 a day in lost time, the Welsh Assembly cut absence to eight days per person during 2007 through an innovative range of approaches including good use of management of information, management training, a dedicated HR adviser, more OH support and lifestyle fairs.

Award for Mental Health and Stress Management
Winner: Metropolitan Police Service
Judge: Professor Geoff Shepherd, policy adviser to the employment programme team at Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

The Metropolitan Police Service devised ‘The Camel’s Back’ – a stress awareness training programme using professionally acted real-life scenarios, and involved stakeholders from all parts of the force. Stress has been reduced by 17.4% in the year since 2006-07, and less than one day per year per officer is lost to stress.

Award for Risk Management and Ill-Health Prevention
Winner: Sarsen Health
Judge: Anne Harriss, reader in educational development and course director for occupational health nursing programmes, London South Bank University.

Sarsen Health persuaded sceptical managers in the building industry of the benefits of OH by working in partnership with construction firm Durkan Group. They introduced health assessments which identified those needing regular surveillance, and improved control measures.

Award for Intervention for Musculoskeletal Disorders
Winner: United Biscuits
Judge: Claire Raistrick, senior teaching fellow in occupational health, and health and Safety Executive programme leader, University of Warwick.

United Biscuits identified that the highest levels of sickness absence over three years were related to musculoskeletal problems and introduced a two-year plan, offering all staff physiotherapy assessments and redesign of work stations. The move led to a reduction in sick pay costs and absence.

(Occupational Health, December 2008)

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