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Wednesday, 11 December

Calling in the Experts

The HSE has appointed a new committee to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health.

The workplace health expert committee (WHEC) will be made up of nine members who will provide expert opinion on ‘emerging’ issues and trends, new evidence relating to existing issues and on the quality and relevance of the evidence base on workplace health issues.

Working under the leadership of an independent expert Chair, the WHEC will provide scientific and medical advice to HSE’s Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of Research, Professor Andrew Curran and to HSE’s Board.

The committee will encourage collaborative working with interested parties and partners while helping to identify issues of potential concern to government departments and businesses.

In particular, the WHEC will focus on chemical and physical hazards and human behavioural or organisational factors in the workplace, e.g. shift work that could lead to physiological and psychosocial ill health. It will not focus on wellbeing, sickness absence management or rehabilitation as these issues are dealt with elsewhere in government. The committee will not consider individual cases of ill health or disease.

HSE statistics show that approximately 13,000 people die each year from occupational lung disease and cancer as a consequence of past workplace exposures, primarily to chemicals and dusts. In addition, an estimated 1.2 million people who worked in 2013/14 were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by work, of which 535,000 were new cases which started in the year.

“Policy for health and safety needs to be informed by the best contemporary scientific evidence,” stated Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor, Chair of the committee. “It is our role to provide HSE with robust evaluation of emerging evidence of new hazards and new evidence of well recognised hazards. I greatly look forward to working with this distinguished panel of experts to achieve this.”

Picture: Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor – “Policy for health and safety needs to be informed by the best contemporary scientific evidence…”

Article written by Mike Gannon

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