The Society of Occupational Medicine has welcomed its first nurse president, Professor Anne Harriss, this week.
Harriss is the first non-physician to serve as SOM president and succeeds Dr Will Ponsonby.
A focus of my role will be ensuring that government and business understand the role of occupational health and asking for universal access to it,” – Prof Anne Harriss, SOM
She has worked in occupational health in a variety of industries, including roles with a major hotel chain, in the oil and gas sector and in the pharmaceutical industry.
She also has her own consultancy and has spent a significant amount of her career in education, serving as course director for occupational health nursing programmes at the Royal College of Nursing and London South Bank University, where she was course director for programmes in OH nursing and OH health and safety.
Harriss, who is also CPD editor for Occupational Health & Wellbeing, said: “A focus of my role will be ensuring that government and business understand the role of occupational health and asking for universal access to it. Covid-19 has highlighted the importance to the economy and public health of effectively supporting workplace health.”
She was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing and Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Harriss also became the first person in the Faculty of Health at London South Bank University to become a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.
Harriss is also involved in the development and delivery of the OH practice abroad, including public health projects in South Africa and projects with the New Zealand Association of Occupational Health Nurses.
SOM has been pressing the government to ensure OH support is offered more widely to the UK population as people return to work.
SOM CEO Nick Pahl said: “There is a strong economic case to implement access to occupational health for all employers. Occupational health services are key in supporting employees back to work and keeping them in work safely during these challenging times. Anne brings a wealth of experience to highlight the vital role occupational health plays”.