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This month's round-up of occupational health research includes papers on the causes of a decline in worker mortality since the late 1970s, and the higher likelihood of women police officers being bullied than their male counterparts. Sarah Silcox reports.
Occupational mortality trends 1979-2010
Excess deaths attributable to most workplace hazards fell “substantially” in the 30 years to 2010 in the UK, according to an analysis of the death certificates and occupations of 3.17 million men.
For example, the annual excess of deaths from chronic bronchitis and emphysema fell from 170.7 during 1979 to 1990 to 36 from 2001 to 2010. Excess deaths from injuries and poisoning fell from 237 to 87.5. The authors suggest these improvements reflect safer working practices, but also a decline in the number of men employed in more hazardous jobs, including mining. Notable exceptions to the general improvement were diseases caused by asbestos, especially in some construction trades, and sinonasal cancer in woodworkers.
In practice: the highest priority for future preventative work is the minority of occupational diseases for which excess mortality remains static or is increasing, including cancers in woodworking and asbestos-related disease, the authors conclude.
Harris EC et al. “Trends in mortality from occupational hazards among men in England and Wales during 1979-2010”. Occupational & Environmental Medicine, published online 14 March 2016.
Female police staff more likely to be bullied
More than two-thirds of female police staff report that bullying is a problem at work and almost three-quarters are not confident that their employer would deal fairly with any complaints of bullying, according to a Unison survey of 1,000 members in the police. Women police staff, including 999 call handlers and fingerprint experts, are more likely to be bullied than male staff; 58% of female staff said they had been bullied compared with 45% of male staff. Humiliation, being belittled or embarrassed, is identified as the main form of bullying, followed by excessive criticism, being excluded or victimised, and excessive monitoring of work. Both male and female police staff believe that poor management is the most common cause of bullying, closely followed by workplace culture and staff cuts.
In practice: Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Bullying is specifically prohibited by the police’s own code o