OH practitioners and health and safety officers have had an uneasy relationship over the years. Although both disciplines are there to ensure the same end – the health and well-being of those at work – the differences between the jobs remit, training and qualifications often results in poor communication.
It doesn’t help that many companies organise their OH and health and safety people into completely separate divisions, with OH usually associated with the HR department and health and safety aligned with the corporate management, facilities resource.
This issue is addressed in our story on page 16. The article, which is written by occupational safety and health practitioner John Walker, is based on a presentation he gave to an IOSH conference earlier this year, providing the convincing argument that OH and health and safety practitioners can work together, both positively and fruitfully.
Reading his list of workplace hazards – from physical hazards to psychosocial hazards – the strong link between the two disciplines becomes clear.
So it is disappointing to discover that according to a research carried out by IOSH and recruitment company MDH (page 6), half of the occupational safety and health practitioners questioned admitted spending less than a quarter of their time devoted to OH issues.
Whether this is a training needs’ issue or a lack of resources and time is unclear. What is more encouraging is that, according to the survey, health and safety practitioners think employers should be investing more in OH issues, in particular, stress and musculoskeletal disorders, which remain the greatest hazards of all in the modern workplace.
We’re also devoting a whole issue to MSDs in a special Occupational Health Extra published later this month.