Editor, UBM

June 23, 2015

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HSE launches new workplace health expert committee

The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed a new committee to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health.

The workplace health expert committee (WHEC) will meet for the first time on Wednesday 24 June 2015. It 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 stakeholders and partners whilst helping to identify issues of potential concern to Government Departments and business.

In particular, the WHEC will focus on chemical and physical hazards and human behavioural or organisational factors in the workplace (such as 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.

Professor Andrew Curran said: “I’m very pleased to have secured such a world-class team of experts in workplace health issues which will supplement our own in-house expertise in this area.

“Our statistics show that around 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.

“I look forward to working with the Committee to help us develop new strategies to reduce these and other causes of workplace ill-health”.

Chair of the committee, Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor said: “I am delighted to chair this important new HSE committee.

“Policy for health and safety needs to be informed by the best contemporary scientific evidence.  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.”

The Committee membership is as follows:

Chair: Professor Sir Anthony Newman-Taylor

Sir Anthony Newman Taylor is the President’s Envoy for Health and Director of Research and Development in National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College. Professor Newman Taylor is Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Imperial College and a Non-Executive Director of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

He was previously Head of the National Heart and Lung Institute and held the roles of Medical Director, Director of Research and Deputy Chief Executive within the Royal Brompton Hospital. He has worked as an advisor to government bodies in Greece, Spain and India in his specialist field of occupational causes of lung disease.

His research interests have included the occupational and environmental causes of respiratory disease, the determinants of childhood allergy and asthma and immunogenetic-environmental interactions in occupational asthma.  He is the author of chapters in many medical textbooks, including the Oxford Textbook of Medicine and Hunter’s Textbook of Occupational Diseases.


Professor Tar-Ching Aw

Professor Aw was interim Dean of the College of Medicine and is currently Director of the Institute of Public Health at United Arab Emirates University.

He has previously worked at the University of Kent in Canterbury where he was Professor of Occupational Medicine, as senior lecturer at the Institute of Occupational Health in Birmingham, and at US CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer.

Professor Peter Buckle

Professor Peter Buckle is currently a Research Professor at the Royal College of Art within the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. He is also Director of the Robens Institute. He holds visiting professorial positions at three leading UK universities (Imperial College, London; University of Nottingham; University of Leeds.) He is a Fellow and a past-president of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF). His specific areas of expertise are in optimising the performance and quality of the work system whilst simultaneously minimising errors and health risks to the work force such as accidents, musculoskeletal disorders and stress.

Professor John Cherrie

Professor John Cherrie is Professor of Human Health at Heriot Watt University and Principal Scientist at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) in Edinburgh. He has been involved in a wide range of research relating to human exposure science and occupational epidemiology, particularly related to cancer. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Hygiene and a former President of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.

Professor Paul Cullinan

Professor Paul Cullinan is Professor in Occupational and Environmental Respiratory Disease, Department of Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health, National Heart and Lung Institute (Imperial College), London.  He is also an Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London. He is a member of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, and is also Deputy Editor of ‘Thorax’.   His academic interests include the epidemiology of occupational lung diseases; in particular of occupational asthma; and also other environmental determinants of lung disease.

Emma Donaldson-Feilder

Emma Donaldson-Feilder is an Occupational Psychologist who specialises in working with organisations to achieve sustainable business performance through improvements in employee health, wellbeing and engagement. Emma is Director and Co-Founder of Affinity Health at Work, a specialist consultancy and research group.

Professor Len Levy

Professor Len Levy is currently Emeritus Professor of Environmental Health within the Institute of Environment and Health at the University of Cranfield, UK. Previously (up till October 2005) he was Head of Toxicology and Risk Assessment at the UK Medical Research Council’s – Institute for Environment and Health based at the University of Leicester. Len is an internationally well-known occupational and environmental toxicologist and risk assessor and holds a doctorate in experimental pathology from the Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Professor Keith Palmer

Professor at the University of Southampton, studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and the John Radcliffe Hospital. A former GP and Employment Medical Adviser with the HSE, he has since held a tenured research post at consultant grade in occupational epidemiology with the MRC Epidemiology Lifecourse Unit in Southampton. His research is focused on the epidemiology of occupational diseases, and the clinical management and prevention of work-associated illnesses. He shares in the leadership of a long-standing MRC funded research programme on work and health.

Dr Martie van Tongeren

Professor Martie Van Tongeren has over 25 years of experience in the field of occupational (and environmental) health.  In his current post as Director of Research at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) he is responsible for a multidisciplinary team of 25 scientists, covering a range of disciplines (including exposure assessment, toxicology, epidemiology, statistics, information sciences, human factors, ergonomy) and themes (Workplace exposures and health; Safety of Nanomaterials, Environment and Health; Workplace Interventions and Evaluations; and Work and Aging Population.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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