BOHS Applauds Works and Pensions Committee Report Recognizing Work-related ill-health prevention as Key to Decent Jobs

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), a Scientific Charity and the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection, welcomes the publication of the Works and Pensions Committee report, which recognizes the crucial role of prevention and the elimination of workplace exposures in promoting decent jobs. The recommendations outlined in the report published on Wednesday, reflect a comprehensive year-long inquiry into the Government’s Plan for Jobs and employment support measures. BOHS actively contributed to the inquiry, emphasizing the significance of prioritizing the prevention of work-related ill-health

BOHS is quoted in several points throughout the report, reiterating the necessity of focusing on prevention as the primary objective in occupational health policies. According to BOHS, policies focusing on rehabilitation and getting people back to work, fail to address the fundamental issues that drive individuals out of employment and create barriers to meaningful engagement within various sectors. The Society insists on articulated government action that ensures individuals do not face the consequences of ill health when entering the workforce, necessitating a change in focus, from treating or mitigating occupational illness to preventing it.

Occupational hygiene, distinct from occupational health, centres on proactively preventing people from getting ill in the workplace. This approach not only benefits individuals by providing a health-risk-free work environment but also presents a strong economic case for implementing a prevention-centred strategy. As quoted in the report, Professor Kevin Bampton, CEO of the British Occupational Hygiene Society stated: ” It is very clear from Covid that being able to prevent people from getting ill is a lot cheaper and easier than dealing with the impact of illness. If we do not prevent and manage illness in the workplace, it can be economically catastrophic for individual companies and indeed to the whole economy.”

Prioritizing the prevention of work-related illnesses through effective occupational hygiene is essential. BOHS emphasizes the need for a “joined-up approach,” which highlights and promotes opportunities for healthy working.  Employers play a crucial role in promoting decent work, foster employee trust, and adapting to evolving expectations regarding work flexibility and transition into different industries or sectors. BOHS highlights the importance of supporting employers in understanding the fundamentals of decent work, enabling them to create engaging workplaces. Professor Kevin Bampton said “The more we can support employers to understand some of the basics about decent work, the more effective we will be. We can throw as much money as we like at individuals, but the employer has to be supported to enable people to engage”.

BOHS President Alex Wilson said: “I am delighted to welcome the publication of the Works and Pensions Committee report, which acknowledges the significance of prioritizing the prevention of work-related ill-health in promoting decent jobs. BOHS is determined to place prevention at the centre of health policies, protecting individuals from workplace exposures and saving thousands of lives”.

BOHS is committed to promoting occupational hygiene and encouraging work environments that prioritize the health of employees. The Society remains dedicated to collaborating with stakeholders, policymakers, and employers to drive positive change and achieve its vision of a country where work is not a cause of acute or chronic ill-health.