Tea-breaker: is health and wellbeing an OH priority?
Our January ‘Tea-breaker’ poll asked if OH professionals should spend more time focusing on their ‘traditional’ roles of preventing occupational exposure, ensuring fitness for work and helping those off sick back into work, rather than on the holistic health and wellbeing of the workforce.
The question divided opinion, with only a small majority (53%) arguing that the world of work has changed and that addressing wider health risks in the workforce and promoting wellbeing is now a vital component of OH.
Two in five practitioners (40%) agree that the ‘workplace wellness agenda’ dilutes the role of OH and takes the focus away from its core components. Seven per cent of respondents were undecided on the issue.
Further analysis of the survey will be published in the April/May edition of Occupational Health [at Work].
CIPD calls for more action on wellbeing
There is an ‘implementation gap’ between understanding the need to address employee wellbeing and what employers are actually doing about it, a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) concludes. ‘An effective employee wellbeing programme should be at the core of how an organisation fulfils its mission and carries out its operations and not consist of one-off initiatives,’ it says.
Workplace violence in the retail sector
Over 240 shop workers are assaulted every day across the UK, a survey conducted by the trade union Usdaw reveals. The poll of over 5,000 retail staff also revealed that 33% of shop workers had been threatened by customers over the past year and that 53% had been verbally abused. The research was carried out as part of the union’s Freedom From Fear campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers.
Sickness absence in England’s NHS
Lord Carter of Coles has called for a ‘national people strategy and implementation plan’ to help improve productivity and performance in the NHS. His independent report for the Department of Health also calls for improved management of sickness absence, which varies ‘from 2.7% to 5.8%’ between trusts. A ‘common definition and improved collection of data’ are required, the report says, along with improved working practices to motivate and support staff when they return to work. High rates of alleged bullying and harassment also need to be addressed.
IOSH appoints occupational physician as chair of trustees
Occupational physician Dr Bill Gunnyeon is the new chair of trustees for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Gunnyeon is past president of the faculty of Occupational Medicine and former chief medical adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Council in hot water after Legionella death
Reading Borough Council (RBC) has been fined £100,000 with £20,000 costs for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, following the death of a pensioner from exposure to Legionella at one of its care homes. A 95-year old man was staying at the council’s The Willow’s care home, while recovering from a broken leg. According to the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, there were systematic failures in the maintenance of the shower plumbing and inadequate training of staff.
Occupational hearing loss
Up to one-fifth of hearing loss among workers is caused by occupational noise exposure, a systematic review published in the International Archives of Occupational & Environmental Health concludes. Occupational hearing loss is greatest in those working in industry, shipbuilding, construction, the military and farming, with risk primarily related to the degree of noise exposure and whether or not hearing protection is used. Impulse noise tends to be more harmful than continuous noise at the same level. Overall, most hearing loss is due to increasing age, with men losing more hearing with age than women.
The latest Research Plus is available free of charge on our website
Research Plus, funded by a grant from the British Occupational Health Research Foundation
, is freely available to all OH professionals. It is published as part of the Occupational Health [at Work]
journal. It highlights original research and systematic reviews from a wide range of current publications meeting evidence quality criteria.
Please visit http://www.atworkpartnership.co.uk/researchplus
to search all of the articles in Research Plus free of charge from 2007 to the present day.
The February/March 2016 issue looked at some of the latest research in a number of areas, including carpal tunnel syndrome, upper limb disorders, and hepatitis B and C treatment. An example of one of the articles is given below:
More than one in four physicians in training have depression or depressive symptoms at any one time, according to this meta-analysis of 31 cross-sectional studies and 23 longitudinal studies, with a combined total of over 17,500 individuals. Depression or depressive symptoms were mostly measured using self-report questionnaires; just three papers used clinical interviews. The overall prevalence of either depression or depressive symptoms was 28.8% (CI 25.3%–32.5%), though estimates varied depending on the type of assessment tool used – 21% for the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire to 43% for the two-item PRIME-MD – and tended to be higher in studies of low methodological quality. Prevalence estimates from US studies did not differ significantly from those conducted elsewhere. Analysis of longitudinal studies found a significant increase (16%) in symptoms within one year of starting training.
To read all of the articles in the latest issue of Research Plus, please visit our website.