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SOM welcomes first step to support safe and healthy workplaces through occupational health

Posted by Ann Caluori | Tue, 20/07/2021 - 19:11


SOM welcomes the Government’s response to the challenge of keeping workplaces safe and healthy. There is a compelling case for occupational health, with less than half the workforce having access to occupational health (OH).


SOM welcomes the focus on quality OH services, to secure improved employee health and productivity – enabling those with long term health conditions, Long COVID and disabilities to remain in work if they wish to do so. We are pleased that the response recognises the lack of access to OH services, to only around half of all employees.


SOM welcomes recognition that occupational health (OH) professionals are uniquely placed to enhance the productivity of the nation by keeping workers healthy and safe.[1] We hope steps are taken to build capacity and access to OH. SOM welcomes investment in OH, particularly in training up the next generation of OH professionals. SOM agrees with the response’s focus on encouraging employers to support employees with health issues and applying the evidence base around what works in getting people back to work.


The President of the SOM, Dr Jayne Moore, said: “SOM welcomes investment in occupational health as it facilitates healthy and safe workplaces. Occupational health doctors, nurses and health professionals are vital to ensuring there is the capacity for scale up of occupational health services that we all want. It will help business confidence as they support workforce health, and as we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown. We look forward to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review backing up this response with investment in the occupational health workforce.”


SOM is hopeful the Comprehensive Spending Review will support efforts to move towards universal access to occupational health (OH) and better support for return to work for people with Long COVID.


The response has been developed after extensive work with SOM and other stakeholders – covering activity to support the development of health and work research capacity, OH outcomes and quality standards, and incentives to support OH.


We are also pleased to see the Government has established a collaborative partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and the independent Academic Forum for Health and Work to develop the proposal for a new Centre for Work and Health Research. Government is committed to further developing the proposal with these delivery partners, including exploring the merits in the form of a potential new centre by beginning development work in this area starting this year.


SOM is holding a Universal Access to Occupational Health Summit on 21st September 2-5pm. Further details and registration here.


[1] Health, work, and wellbeing – evidence and research


Full press release here