National School of Occupational Health Conference 2014
WORKING TOGETHER: FOOD FOR THOUGHT We thought this report on the above conference would be useful reading for members.
the above NSOH Conference this September. The conference was attended by a wide
variety of occupational health professionals. However the largest number of
attendees were occupational health physicians and there was much talk on the
subject of multidisciplinary occupational health working. Although there was a
proportion of OHPs who remain territorial of the SOM there were many OHPs who
said they now view multidisciplinary working as essential to the survival of
the profession. The conference theme for the day was occupational health within
the food industry and some aspects of talks by contributors are summarised
Rosie Hancock: Physiotherapist at
RehabWorks This talk
was about developing a functional capacity assessment within a food
distribution warehouse. The physiotherapy team worked closely with ergonomists
and was based on site to enable employees requiring support to be referred as
quickly as possible. Initial telephone assessments were carried out using the
biopsychosocial model to identify low and high priority referrals. Employees
with less serious problems were offered advice by telephone whilst those with
major problems had face to face appointments. Emphasis was on functional analysis
of different job roles and tasks undertaken by employees, communicating in
language employees understood. Reports sent to human resources focused on
employee’s functional capacity, avoiding unnecessary clinical details. Most
employees were eventually able to return to full duties.
Adrian Hurst: Occupational Hygienist This talk
was about occupational hygiene issues within the food industry. The control of hazards
in the food industry was seen as a huge task, partly because many workers were
poorly trained, lowly paid, and tended to accept poor health. Risks were increased
by factories meeting time pressures.
Some of the
diverse hazards identified included;
· Slips, trips and falls.
· Noise. Manufacturers were often unprepared
to rebuild factories designed to reduce noise levels.
· Extreme heat and cold. Workers were at risk of heat exposure
near ovens and cold exposure in food freezers.
· Allergies. Allergies of workers included to
mist from crab meat and food additives, for example silica and acetic acid in
vinegar. Although measures have been taken to reduce the level of flour dust
exposure that can lead to asthma, further measures are still required overall.
· Cleaning chemicals
· Ionising and non ionising radiation. Ionising radiation was used to
control the number of food ingredients in ready meals to maximise profits.
· Local exhaust ventilation. Local exhaust ventilation still
needed much improvement and some factories had discontinued LEV as they were
seen as too difficult to clean!
that safety behaviour was easier to change than health behaviour, and whilst
safety within the food industry had improved significantly health hazards had
still not been reduced adequately. It was essential for ergonomists to work
closely with other occupational health disciplines.
Simon Parry: Health and Safety
Executive Simon’s talk
was about health and safety within the food industry. Regulating the food
industry was a considerable challenge due to there being 400.000 employees
working within varying work settings. There was agreement with the previous
speaker that improvement of safety was far greater than of health and worker
health was often undervalued. If organisations had poor safety records it was
likely that the health of their employees was also ignored.
remained musculoskeletal injury and mental health problems. Emerging issues
were the need to support the aging workforce adequately and the increasing
pressure of shift work due to increased consumer demands. Support of the
multicultural workforce had improved.
viewed occupational health support as vital. When asked why there was not
adequate occupational health representation at the HSE the response was that
the HSE agreed but that their resources were limited from above. The HSE only
felt able to regulate the industry effectively in partnership with other
Emma Donaldson-Feilder: Psychologist
discussed the different type of psychologists that can be accessed by work
organisations, namely occupational psychologists, health psychologists,
clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists and neuropsychologists. The type
of psychologist that offers support would depend on the work situation, for
example occupational psychologists could strategically support workers to build
and leadership within companies, especially the role of the line manager, were
seen as key to psychological wellbeing of employees. Bureaucratic feedback was
viewed as unhelpful, however if employees were offered positive feedback they
felt valued, resulting in a productive organisation.
divided into groups for part of the day and able to attend two of four talks
during this time. I therefore did not attend a talk about supermarkets and the
food chain by Susan Carty of Tesco’s or one about human factors by Sue
Mackenzie from the Institute
of Ergonomics about the
role of human factors.
I summarise the two talks attended below: Alison Clark: Dietician at British
Dietetic Association Alison
managed a workshop describing the foods that are considered to improve mood
which could enhance work performance. Foods mentioned included porridge oats,
bran flakes, oatcakes, pitta bread, bananas, blueberries, blackberries,
sardines, eggs, nuts and green tea. The importance of regular meals, adequate
hydration and the circular Eatwell Plate was emphasised.
Anne Byrne: Occupational therapist Anne’s
fascinating talk was about the role of the occupational therapist in the whisky
industry in Scotland.
109 distilleries in Scotland
employing 10.000 workers. The nature of the whisky production process made it
impossible to modernise the distilleries significantly and there were
considerable demands on the workers. Nevertheless workers tended to be
reluctant to take absence due to the supportive nature of these family
businesses combined with living in areas that tended to be socioeconomically
deprived with few work opportunities.
of whisky making was complex, involving a wide variety of tasks. Alison worked
closely with the occupational health team carrying out Functional Capacity
Evaluation which assessed tolerance to a known job using Jobs Demands Analysis
and a pain scoring system.
rotation and regular short breaks at hourly intervals assisted employees cope
with this heavy and intensive type of work. Multidisciplinary working between
the occupational therapist, occupational health team and outside organisations
was seen as key to success.
Professor John Harrison: Head of the National School of Occupational Health and
Richard Heron: FOM and Vice President, BP International
was arranged to replace a speaker who was unable to attend but proved very
appropriate due to focusing on the importance of good multidisciplinary
huge health challenges facing workforces in the UK
including removing the retirement age and more employees suffering chronic
health conditions and yet there was still a dearth of occupational health
provision in the UK.
There was a
real need for multidisciplinary occupational health to stand up together to
make things change, communicating across public health and liaising with DOH
and DWP. The National School of Occupational Health, opened in August 2014, was
in its infancy and wanted to develop standard setting and better training
opportunities for all occupational health disciplines, demonstrating commitment
to diversity. The School currently covered England
and Wales but it is hoped it
would also cover Scotland
and Northern Ireland
in the future.
health research needed to be disseminated more widely than just in medical
journals, for example in human resource journals. All healthcare professionals
needed to recognise the patient’s work needs within their wider health care plan.
This was an
inspirational conference. It seems clear that occupational health is now recognising
the importance of multidisciplinary working in order to maintain the
effectiveness and credibility of the profession. It will be interesting to see
how the development of the new National School of Occupational Health proves to
be a player within this process."
Jane Wakefield, AOHNP (UK) member October 2014
Change to Law concerning Criminal Record Checks
Lewis has extracted the following from a round robin from a respected
law firm called Lewis Silkin. She felt that it would be useful for our
It will become a
Criminal Offence to require Employees or job applicants to make enforced subject
access requests for the employer. Unless the person is to work in a defined and
regulated sector enforced criminal record checks will become unlawful
want information about the criminal records of job applicants or employees for
various reasons. One way of obtaining such information is to require an
individual to make an “enforced” subject access request under the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA) in order to get a copy of their own criminal record.
The practice of requiring individuals to reveal their criminal records is at
odds with the right to privacy and the rehabilitation of offenders, so enforced
subject access has long been a contentious issue.
It will soon
be a criminal offence for employers to require employees or job applicants to
make enforced subject access requests and then provide the employer with the
results. This is because of a previously dormant section in the DPA that will
come into effect on 1 December
cannot apply themselves for criminal records checks on employees or applicants,
except in specific circumstances. These are primarily where a person will be
working with children or vulnerable adults or in specific regulated sectors, in
which case the employer can and in some cases must get information on the
person’s criminal history. Some employers therefore make it a precondition of
employment that the individual must obtain information on their own criminal
record from the police, by making a subject access request, and then pass on the
Up until now,
this practice has been discouraged by the Information Commissioner’s Office
(ICO) but has not technically been unlawful. Section 56 of the DPA makes it an
offence to require a person to make a subject access request and reveal the
result, but implementation of this provision was delayed by the Government. It
will now be fully in force from 1 December 2014. Anyone convicted of the
offence will face a fine of up to £5,000 in the magistrates’ court or an
unlimited fine in the Crown Court. The ICO has indicated that it intends to
prosecute those who continue to enforce subject access requests, in an effort to
stamp out this practice.
Why the new
rule? The core
issue is that subject access requests provide far more information than an
applicant is legally required to disclose. For example, unless they are working
with children or vulnerable adults, or are applying for a job covered by the
Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order 1975, applicants do not have to
give information about “spent” convictions – i.e. where a certain period of time
has elapsed since the conviction without the perpetrator re-offending. A spent
conviction is “wiped” from an individual’s criminal record and he or she is
entitled to hold themselves out as someone who has never been the subject of
subject access requests ride roughshod over these boundaries. The response to a
general subject access request will show spent convictions as well as live ones
and will also show police reprimands, warnings and cautions. While it is
unlawful to refuse to employ someone because of a spent conviction, there is no
specific legal remedy for anyone who is forced to reveal their full criminal
history and then refused employment because of information disclosed. Jonathan
Bamford, head of strategic liaison at the ICO, has called enforced subject access an “unsavoury practice” that
undermines the rehabilitation of offenders.
this mean for employers? The new rules
will not affect employers’ duties to carry out their own checks on applicants
for jobs which are covered by the 1975 Exceptions Order. For jobs that do not
fall within that Order, however, employers should urgently review their
recruitment practices – especially if they make offers of employment conditional
on the production of a clean criminal record.
will risk a criminal conviction if they seek to force an applicant to provide
their criminal record by making a subject access request. An alternative option
is simply to ask applicants to disclose their criminal records voluntarily.
Employers should explain to individuals that they do not need to disclose spent
convictions - and there is no certainty they will provide accurate information.
We have been contacted by Arianna Long, a United States internet
resource provider who believes some of their resources may be useful to
UK OH nurses. Her email follows:
the rise of the internet, online education has become a more integral part of
our higher education system. Many prominent colleges and universities in the United States
are now offer online course options as an element of their curriculum. It is
encouraging to see the educational system advancing so quickly, but
unfortunately, when students try to research these opportunities, information
is fragmented and not easily accessible. Because of this, my team and I have
worked to fully research, catalogue, and publish a comprehensive database of
every online nursing program offered by an accredited educational institution
in the U.S.
This is especially important as it is documented that the US face a
shortage of nurses between 2009 through 2030. We hope that our databases and
featured resources will help attract and drive more students and professional
into this field.
Part of the reason why I thought to reach out to you is because other nursing
organizations, nursing education programs and governmental entities recently
cited our resource on their websites, enabling students, educators, and their
families to access our database.
your users could also benefit from having the same access, especially those who
may be interested in pursuing a career in the US, we thought we would take the
time to reach out to you as well. The database is available to anyone, it does
not involve any cost, and is updated yearly. If you wanted to get your students
connected with these resources feel free to provide a link to AccreditedOnlineColleges.org
from your page.
We hope that you find these sites of some use. October 2014
Useful Reading (suggested by Sarah O'Hara) Listed below are some interesting articles:
a) Mental Health Absence Workers with previous sickness absence with common mental health disorder (CMHD) are at increased risk of recurrent CMHD sickness absence. Environmental Health 2010;onlinefirst:doi:1007/s00420-010-0540-4
b) Overtime Raises CHD Risk 3-4 hours of overtime per day results in 1.56 increased risk of CDH European Heart Journal 2010:onlinefirst:doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq124
c) Healthy Lifestyles Reduces Mortality Modest but sustained improvement in diet and lifestyle could have significant public health benefits Archives of Internal Medicine 2010;170(8) 711-718