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Comments on Emerging Issues in Health and Work


Introduction

It is difficult to determine or predict what issues will be foremost in people’s minds in a few years’ time. The nature and challenges of work are constantly changing, and technologies are advancing. Moreover the perception of risk, political and economic considerations, and hence priorities change as well. 

The following is simply based on a brainstorming exercise, in order to generate issues which may be the subject of further discussion and debate. The responses to a a brainstorming exercise, clearly depends on the constitution of the focus group: workers/ their representatives/ employers/ politicians/ health and safety officers/ occupational hygienists, physicians or nurses/ health and safety or environmental or health promotion officers etc. The points are not listed in any particular order and certainly not in priority or degrees of certainty. However an attempt has been made to try and categorise the points into various sets, although a number of them could very easily feature under more than one subheading.

 

Public Health and Policy

  • The setting of targets of occupational health (or ill health)

The Delivery of ‘Occupational Health’

  • Strategies for risk assessment and risk reduction that are appropriate to small and medium enterprises
  • The balance of 'supply': 'in-house' provision versus outside contractors/consultants versus health-service based delivery

Changing Emphasis of Hazards and Risks

  • More emphasis on psychological factors in relation to the workplace and health
  • Closer integration of assessment and handling of risks from industrial sources, and in the general environment

Technological Advances in Occupational Health

  • Measurements of biomarkers
  • Better predictive models for hazard prediction of new chemical entities, and for prospective risk assessment

Ethical Issues

  • Implications regarding fitness for work and the effect of work on health, arising from the new genetics.

Your Views:

What do you believe to be the emerging issues in relation to health and work?  

In relation to Health Care Workers, a consultation exercise is in progress in relation to Guideline Development.