Local Authorities: Treat Occupational Health as part of Public Health
We have been concerned of late that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act- that gave local authorities responsibility for public health spending – hasn’t yet recognised the importance of occupational health. In a bid to discover current spend on work related respiratory disease, 402 councils were contacted through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
This work was also commissioned to show further support to the HSE’s Helping Great Britain Work Well scheme, breaking down the current barriers between occupational health and public health. Of the 217 local authorities that responded to the FOI, just eight reported allocating any funding to respiratory health and within those eight; only four stated that the funding was specifically related to in – work projects. The funding was mostly supporting employee focussed smoking cessation programmes. The investigation showed that the vast majority of councils across the UK are not investing in work related respiratory health programmes.
We have developed a report to encourage local authorities to put occupational health into their strategies. The report was launched during a Westminster dinner hosted by Stephen Pound MP on 16th November. It identifies how local authorities, with the support of the BSIF and BSIF members, can achieve positive outcomes. This can be achieved by:
- recognising occupational health as part of public Health and dedicating a set amount of their budget to tackling work related respiratory disease
- commissioning targeted publicity campaigns to raise awareness of the diseases
- spporting training in the correct use of Respiratory Protective Equipment
- ensuring that all tight fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment is competently face fitted by Fit2Fit Accredited face fitters
- ensuring that all personal Protective Equipment is supplied by Registered Safety Suppliers
- accessing the willing support of BSIF members
To download the report visit www.bsif.co.uk
More than 31 million people are now in work and the issue of workplace illness will not disappear.  Occupational health is public health. Work related respiratory illnesses are a huge threat to UK society and must start to be given the critical focus it needs.