Academic research


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Getting the best from the fit note

Peer reviewed and published

University of Nottingham
Dr Carol Coole, PhD, Professor Avril Drummond, PhD
Professor Paul Watson, PhD
Dr Fiona Nouri, PhD
Mrs Iskra Potgieter, MSc

The fit note was introduced in 2010 to replace the sickness certificate and facilitate those with health
conditions to stay in work by encouraging GPs to focus on what a patient is able to do at work. However,
despite this major policy change, no research studies have been published that have evaluated the fit note
from the perspective of all the main stakeholders, namely employed patients, GPs and employers (including
human resources, line managers and occupational health practitioners). This study aimed to investigate and
reach agreement on how the fit note can best be used by all stakeholder groups to aid return to work and work

SAFELAB, national culture and safety in...

Peer reviewed and published

Delft University of Technology
DR. Frank Guldenmund, Mrs. Zarah Glaap
Delft University of Technology

• To create a research network of safety scientists and to develop a theoretical framework on safety and internationalisation.
• To combine and aggregate accident data to appropriate volume, and to analyse these data and search for intercultural patterns.
• To develop a dynamic model for lab safety.
• To apply the acquired knowledge in the design of laboratories.

• The network of safety scientists develops a theoretical framework and an overall research program. Methods will be selected for analysing influence of culture on work accidents.
• Collection of accident data, pattern recognition and analyses: lab accident reports from different universities will be grouped into large European data sets and analysed.
• Multidisciplinary teams of safety scientists, researchers on the built environment and industrial designers, explore culture dimensions in the (a) man-machine relation, (b) man in built environment and (c) man – man relation. Findings will be transferred into an advice on improved lab-safety design.

• The establishment of an European network for safety science. The program will also lead to consensus on a theoretical framework on safety and national culture. Furthermore, SAFELAB will make statistically valid data available on work accidents in multicultural laboratories.
• Development of a dynamic model for safety. The model will be a tool for lab-managers to anticipate on culture related safety problems in the laboratory and includes a blue-print for ‘culture-proof’ lab-design.
• In the long term SAFELAB will lead to the improvement and harmonization of the safety standard of European laboratories. Harmonized lab-safety standards will facilitate European scientist of the future in their mobility within Europe.

Over the last decades the influx of foreign knowledge workers into Europe has increased, leading to laboratories being populated by scientists with different cultural backgrounds. This change in heterogeneity of population adds to improved resilience and thinking power. Literature states, however, that multicultural teams can be more unsafe than mono-cultural ones (Benton, 2005).
SAFELAB aims to unite knowledge of scientific disciplines to develop a knowledge domain on ‘Safety in Laboratories’, and in particular explore the influence of (national) cultural aspects on safety. The impact of this program would ultimately be a way to facilitate and support the European scientist of the future, which fits into Europe’s ambition to improve its market for highly skilled workers.

Musculoskeletal injury as part of the...

Peer reviewed and published

University College Cork
Dr Birgit Greiner, Sheilah Nolan
Dervla Hogan
IOSH short report: Hand-on

The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) in hand-intensive health care occupations, specifically in Irish chartered physiotherapists, physical and athletics therapists and to identify work risk factors and best practice strategies for the prevention of WRULDs.

Two questionnaire studies were conducted: A cross-sectional study with 347 employed and self-employed therapists and a follow-up study with 74 students at baseline in their final year of training with follow-up 12 months after graduation (n=22) to investigate early career onset of WRULDs.

Musculoskeletal symptoms were high with 82.5% of experienced therapists reporting symptoms in at least one upper limb body part during the past year and a 25.7% annual prevalence of incapacitating symptoms. Upper limb symptoms to the shoulders, neck and thumbs accounted for most of the 12 month prevalence. Neck, shoulder and wrist symptoms accounted for most of the incapacitating symptoms. 37.5% reported at least one clinical diagnosis.
Work risk factors with significant associations to UL health included perceived physical effort during manual therapy, work organisation - specifically lack of sufficient breaks and input into scheduling, and psychosocial factors including social support, predictability of work and influence at work. Analyses accounted for demographics, physical work load, lifestyle factors and mental health. Therapists with injury prevention training and with risk assessments completed in their workplace had a lower rate of UL symptoms. One year incidence rate for new symptoms in graduates was 40% with 15 newly developed incidence cases, mainly in thumbs and neck.

Recommendations, conclusions
Results suggest that injury prevention training that goes beyond the current manual handling training programme with a particular focus on UL injury prevention is crucial at an early career stage. Guidance documents and detailed good practice models on work organisation, rest breaks, input into scheduling and provision of peer and professional support for the prevention of WRULDs needs to be considered and developed for hand-intensive health care occupations.

Incentives for a health promoting school...

Peer reviewed and published

A0_SEP v5 hsg.pdf
Hochschule für Gesundheit - University of Applied Sciences
Dr Sven Dieterich, Günther Gediga
Gerrit Schnabel
Heinz Hundeloh

The aim of the school development award “Good and Healthy School” is to reward schools in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) for their health oriented organizational development. Within the application procedures a broad range of health and safety related quality aspects are considered.
The evaluation of this incentive system includes the yearly questioning of the participating schools and a survey of about 1.000 participating and non-participating schools.
20% of all schools in NRW applied for the award at least once. More than 270 of them have been awarded one or more times. The main motivation to participate is the necessity to receive impulses for school development. Furthermore, external feedback, prize money, and public recognition play a significant role.
Incentive systems in schools can lead to substantial improvements. It does not only achieve an impact by its monetary incentive but by the mediated health and safety related contents.

The effectiveness of occupational health...

Peer reviewed and published

German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the Administrative Sector (VBG)
Dr Susanne Roscher

It is becoming more important for companies to avoid the continual overworking of their staff and to actively invest in improving their employees’ health awareness. VBG supports its member companies with an occupational health management advisory service.
The evaluation of a project to introduce occupational health management in a company from the insurance sector is presented. Data was collected by means of an online survey (N = 629) conducted prior to and after measures were implemented. The survey comprises a number of different constructs relating to the fields of ‘stressors’ (e.g. excessive demands, stressful social climate), ‘resources’ (e.g. social support) and ‘well-beeing’ (e.g. psychosomatic problems). Specific change hypotheses were put forward and examined on the basis of the measures implemented.
Overall, the results indicate an improvement in the stress situation within the company. Excessive demands, in particular, were reduced. The hypotheses put forward in relation to the individual measures were, to a large extent, corroborated, and prove that the occupational health management project was a success.

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