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Federation of Occupational Health Nurses
within the European Union

Tarragona 2006

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Tarragona, Spain 2006

The 24th FOHNEU Board Meeting was held in Tarragona, Spain, 21ST-23rd September 2006


The meeting was attended by 18 representatives of 12 member countries.

The President extended her gratitude to the Spanish Association for hosting the meeting. Spain was also congratulated for its recent achievement in obtaining recognition of the Occupational Health Nurse speciality.

A warm welcome was extended to Simon Borg, the representative from Malta, his attendance at the meeting being a result of the FOHNEU twinning project.

The President went on to highlight some of the activities which have taken place since the last Board Meeting.


The website has been updated and the position of the webmaster formalised.

The organisation of the FOHNEU Congress has been complicated but is running to schedule. Support, marketing and actions are required by all members to ensure that the event is a success.

The HOHNEU project is progressing with an impressive input from expert groups and coordination from the FOHNEU President.

FOHNEU is now an official member of ESNO, our position on the board being of vital importance as the only representation of a preventative role.

FOHNEU was represented at the ICOH Congress in Milan, Italy and at the European Nurses Forum in Lyon, France.

Member Updates

Sweden has a new Liberal Alliance government who want to make changes in OH. They have said that they may close down some institutes such as The National Institute for Working Life which is where OHN’s are educated. This means that the education will be taken on by the universities.

The Swedish Association is concerned that the specialist qualification may lose some value in the conversion to ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and are actively lobbying against it. Sweden celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year & a celebration is planned.

Ireland has new regulations under safety at work concerning noise, vibration and asbestos exposure. Changes in risk assessment and medical surveillance are currently under review and the changes are the topic of discussion for trade unions

In the UK the NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) are proposing changes in the regulations on OH education which could undermine practice. The association of OH educators and the main OH Groups are lobbying against this.

Part 3 of the register is working.

The Government has appointed Dame Carol Black (GP) responsible for OH and is being actively lobbied by both OHNs & Physicians.. She will be invited to the FOHNEU congress.

Lots of opportunities are coming up in the UK to be seized by the OHNs

In the Netherlands there are further changes to the Dutch Working Conditions Act and the bill will be up for discussion in 2007. OHN’s are not mentioned in the law and the situation is very worrying as more and more are being dismissed. At the last association meeting some board members resigned leaving only three when the Constitution states five. It has become very difficult to function with so few members to carry out tasks. Education no longer exists programs have been stopped due to lack of applicants. The NNA has also been reorganised. And the OHN Association has decided not to subscribe the fees being 100000 €.The Association is functioning with so few members and the situation is becoming critical and unworkable.

Denmark is looking at the problem of the implications of the aging workforce. A budget has been assigned targeting “run down”, a physical & mental deterioration leading to early retirements in some sectors. The budget will also be used in the prevention of alcohol and tobacco dependence and health promotion. Discussions are going on in parliament on how to spend the funds. Money as before used in works inspection are now to be used to invest in improving the psychosocial working environment, which is very closely linked to sickness absence.

The OH service reform is being discussed.

A new logo has been developed.

There have been new developments in Finland since the update was written. Eeva has been invited to speak at a meeting in two weeks to advise on OH. Positive moves have been made towards government funding for OHN education.

Spain having had the OHN speciality officially recognised last year is now working towards establishing standards of competence and practise. The Spanish OH association, the AET are playing an active part and have key members on the board of the National Commission.

Portugal is seeing the application of the new law, brought in 2004, concerning the working environment. Inspections are stricter and the employment of a nurse in companies exceeding 200 employees is in force. Portugal has a high rate of work related accidents.

The Portuguese Association (ANET) has had a low profile recently, but with the election of a new board and Eduardo as President, many actions are planned to raise the profile of the OHN.

There is no specific education for the OHN. Specialities are now to be person centred, for example adult, infant family nursing. Occupational Health will be included in the speciality of adult nursing.

In Greece application of effective OH practise is compromised by reforms in the labour laws which allow more precarious working conditions. OH services are more often expected to be cost effective rather than being based on risk assessment.

A new Masters Degree course has become available to OHNs.

Simon Borg, Health and Safety Officer for the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN), gave the Board an insight into the OH situation in his country

Malta has a population of 450,000 and there are approximately for 4000 general nurses.

Occupational Health is relatively new and very few laws exist. OH & safety are regarded as one subject. Current practise is related to Health & Safety regulations non compliance of which carries heavy fines & even imprisonment. Nursing managers are individually responsible although they were not aware until recently. The Trade Unions are behind moves and developments.

There is no specialist OHN education and the role is undefined.

Simon would like to look into OH training by correspondence, linked to the UK or Ireland and requires help on the basics of the organisation of OH services and documentation.

There is no experience in risk assessment available in Malta and Simon would like references for software and risk assessment tools.

As a matter of interest, nursing is rated 6 in the Maltese injuries at work statistics.

After years of debate France has finally adopted the first paper outlining the creation of a nursing order or regulatory body. The French association, the GIT is involved in the working group defining nursing competence.

The GIT were very active at the Physicians Occupational Health congress in June and as a result have had invitations to develop working relations with government ministers. The profile of the OHN in France is increasing but remains an unrecognised speciality.

In Belgium legislation changes are being implemented relating to noise and asbestos regulations. Questions are also being raised about risk exposure of students. A new title “Assistant Prevention Advisor” is an example of giving a new name to an OHN covering everything from health and safety.

In education, many people are opting for Masters level rather than doing post 1st level certificates or diplomas which accordingly has resulted in fewer inscriptions for such courses.

The Belgian association, Vvvb is having difficulty recruiting new active board members.

The next FOHNEU Board Meeting will be held in May 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact the FOHNEU secretary for further details.

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Our partners

Healthy Workplaces
European Agency for Safety and Health at work
European Lung Fundation

Federation of Occupational Health Nurses within the European Union (FOHNEU)

You can contact Executive Officers of FOHNEU at the e-mail addresses here.