07/14/2004

SMEs need greater access to occupational health support

The work of occupational health physicians (OHPs) is highly rated by
organisations, but small and medium sized businesses have little or no access
to their support. A new joint survey at the University of Glasgow (UK) has been
published recently on this topic.

The research titled 'Competencies of Occupational Physicians ­ the customer's
perspective' surveyed the consumers of occupational medicine services to seek
their views on the skills and competencies they expect from occupational
physicians.

Dr. Ewan Macdonald, Head of HWLRG, said: 'This study confirms the low level of
occupational health support available to most firms and demonstrates a need to
improve access to that support, particularly for small and medium sized
enterprises.'

Dr Macdonald also added that it is rare for the medical profession to ask for
the opinion of its customers about the skills they require of doctors and this
study has validated the present training programme. But the study also
suggested that there needs to be a change in training emphasis with assessment
of disability, fitness for work and sickness absence management, together with
the ability to assess occupational health hazards and a good knowledge of Law
and Ethics all being particularly important.

While the research found that the majority of large companies tend to have a
full time occupational physician or one who visits regularly, a significant
percentage of small and medium sized companies indicated they had little or no
access at all.

Dr Nundita Reetoo, one of the research team members, said that workers and
employers from small and medium sized enterprises had had more contact with
occupational health nurses than physicians, but wanted access to competent
occupational health physicians which was relatively rarely available.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work