Occupational Health Awards 2009: Best Occupational Health Team

The judge: Gail Cotton

Gail Cotton (MBA RGN OHND CMIOSH) is head of OH and fitness at Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service, providing occupational health to the fire service and to businesses in the East Midlands. She is also a former president of the Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners (UK).

Cotton represents OH nurses on regional and national working groups, and is on the Occupational Health Journal Editorial Board. She has recently been appointed to the Chief Fire Officers Association OH Networking group to support the implementation of the business strategy for improved communication, consistency, and sharing of good OH practice amongst Fire Service Occupational Health departments.

Shortlisted teams: 

Nestlé UK

What they did: The Nestlé UK OH team transformed itself into a centralised service and standardised provision while maintaining the ability to tailor services to meet local sites.

Impact on staff and the organisation: Sites now have full-time access to advice and cost savings, improved data, and improved access to rehabilitation.

Judge’s comment: “Radical change in OH delivery in a UK-wide organisation has meant far-reaching efficiencies and use of resources to improve standardisation of practice and delivery. The change has meant creating a new small OH team that is now nurse-led. The team developed a bespoke electronic records management system, and improved communication for team and business.”

Morgan Est

What they did: Collaborative working was introduced between OH, HR and safety staff at this civil construction company leading to better communication, site visits and online lifestyle screening.

Impact on staff and the organisation: Sickness absence has been reduced and there are now clear trigger points allowing early OH intervention for those on long-term sickness absence.

Judge’s comment: “Initiatives were developed to meet the company need for a wellbeing programme. Shared resources and technology with other agencies have had benefits. OH professionals benefit from networking and more collaborative working. OH team staff turnover has been reduced, and morale improved.”

University of Strathclyde

What they did: The OH team worked with HR to introduce a new sickness absence policy, including absence recording, collaborated with safety professionals, and introduced a range of wellbeing and health surveillance interventions.

Impact on staff and the organisation: The team has improved health across a diverse workforce and optimised resources.

Judge’s comment: “This relatively new OH team have demonstrated that they are embracing the challenges set by the university. These include wellbeing initiatives, disability services and absence management. They emphasised ongoing continuous improvement throughout their entry, and actively collaborate with many internal and external partners. There is ongoing development of the OH team.”

West Yorkshire Police

What they did: OH nurses have worked more closely with police force departments and introduced a nurse-led service allowing nurses to work autonomously while communicating effectively with internal and external partners.

Impact on staff and the organisation: Absence figures are showing a downward trend, and the causes clearly identified so that resources can be targeted.

Judge’s comment: “The team changed the ways of working within the individual divisions to suit the organisational needs, and thus improved communication. Sickness absence is reducing due to the effectiveness of the OH team collaborating with managers and community health teams. The team is acknowledged by senior management of the organisation as deserving of the ‘Team of the Month’ award, presented by the chief constable.”

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