As one of the professional bodies involved in the establishment of the Occupational Safety Consultants Register [OSCR], the British Occupational Hygiene Society [BOHS] is wholly supportive of the aim behind the scheme to raise the standard of advice being given by consultants to employers.
In its section on raising standards, Lord Young’s Report recommends professionalising health and safety consultants through an accreditation scheme, with a qualification requirement that all consultants should be accredited to professional bodies. This OSCR’s starting point, as announced at its launch on 15 October, is the accreditation of just safety consultants. Currently, therefore, it does not include occupational hygiene or other specialist occupational health and safety consultants, and businesses requiring advice on the management and control of health hazards in the working environment should continue to utilise the BOHS Directory of Occupational Hygiene Consultants. This is searchable online via the BOHS website, www.bohs.org/consultants-directory/ and remains the only UK listing of qualified occupational hygiene consultants.
BOHS is continuing to work as part of the OSCR network towards the next stage of the scheme. We fully anticipate that this will address its expansion to include consultants who are Members and Fellows of our Faculty of Occupational Hygiene. As it stands, the scheme is a register only of safety consultants who offer general safety advice. It does not yet provide a complete service signposting employers towards those who are experienced and qualified beyond the scope of safety risk assessments, such as occupational hygienists who can advise on, for example, the health effects of exposure to chemical hazards and how to control them effectively in the workplace. Expanding the scheme in this way will address Lord Young’s recommendation.
Of special note is that the entry requirements and standards for members of the Faculty of Occupational Hygiene are at least equivalent to those for CMIOSH, IIRSM Fellow and CEHP status – the only current eligibility criteria for entry to the Register. “It is a concern”, states David O’Malley, Registrar of the BOHS Faculty, “that one of the main drivers behind the original impetus for the Scheme – the issue of ‘consultant creep’, where consultants give wrong or misleading advice on areas outside their expertise – will not be addressed, and that the credibility of the scheme risks being undermined until the scope of the specialist disciplines operating in this field has been recognised and incorporated.”
Nevertheless, Steve Perkins, Chief Executive of BOHS, is encouraged. “The recent progress that has been made in bringing the OSC Register to its current stage is welcome, and indicative of how proactive cooperation between HSE and the professional bodies representing the wide range of professionals working in occupational health and safety can begin to make a difference. We look forward to the next step.”