Organisations failing to make use of OH support

Just
one in seven workers in the UK have the benefit of comprehensive occupational
health support according to research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The
research, conducted by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), found that
only around 30,000 organisations made use of wide-ranging occupational health
(OH) support to protect and promote the health of their employees.

These
findings are based on a telephone survey of 4,950 organisations of varying
sizes from both private and public sectors. Comprehensive OH support is defined
as encompassing:


Hazard definition


Risk management


Provision of information


Modifying work activities


Providing training on OH related issues


Measuring workplace hazards


Monitoring trends in health

The
survey also showed that around 44 per cent of large organisations – but only 2
per cent of very small companies – used this kind of support. However, some 15
per cent of companies, employing around 7.5 million workers, make use of more
basic OH support covering hazard definition, risk management and provision of
training.

Employers
stated the main reason for having OH support was concern for health, safety and
well being of employees. Also reported was concern about litigation and costs
of absence.

Bill
Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC), said: "This
survey gives us a detailed view of the use of occupational health support in
the UK. It also gives us a baseline to assess how well we are achieving our
revitalising health and safety goal of encouraging better access to
occupational health support.

"With
only 3 per cent of UK companies using all of what we would consider to be the
key elements of occupational health support, a lot more needs to be done to
help prevent people becoming ill because of their work. Our approach will
remain focussed on the work needed to provide everyone with appropriate
occupational health support regardless of the size or type of organisation they
work for."

By Ben Willmott

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