At RoSPA, we’re really proud of our history, which dates back to 1916. When you look back through our archives, it’s clear that one of the things we’ve been particularly good at over the years is ensuring that our work aligns closely to, and complements, wider priorities.
That is why we were so excited when Scotland’s Public Health Priorities
were published and we saw that our work – spanning home, water, road and occupational safety – supported a much wider health and wellbeing agenda across Scotland.
In this article we look at the six public health priorities and how our work fits in. It’s worth looking back at the 2015 Review of Public Health in Scotland
, which included a useful diagram that set out the core and wider public health workforce. RoSPA’s work obviously sits within the third/community sector ring but we have links to many other partners.
Priority 1: A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities
“Place” is a key concept for both Justice and Health in Scotland. At RoSPA, we believe that the places we live, work and are active need to be safe in order for Scotland’s population to flourish and live free from serious accidental injury, contributing to better outcomes for people and communities overall.
Our work aligns to “place” in many ways.
Scotland is surrounded by water. We have roughly 60 per cent of the UK coastline and around 30,000 lochs
. Unfortunately, the accidental drowning rate in Scotland is almost double the UK’s average
and a large proportion of drownings happen to people who never planned to be in the water – mostly runners, cyclists and walkers.
Design of water features and safety controls can play a large part in helping to reduce the likelihood of these incidents, which is why RoSPA is advocating for local authorities to adopt a water safety policy. A policy will risk assess all council-owned land and ensure new developments have considered the impact of water features and safety. This can help ensure that any identified water-related hazards are eliminated or controlled appropriately.
Housing plays a large part in health inequalities and can lead to many preventable diseases and unintentional injuries. According to the World Health Organisation, poor design or construction of homes is a major cause of home accidents.
Building regulations address many issues such as fire safety and accessibility. However, there are a number of simple, low-cost design improvements that can also increase safety in the home.
Following on from the previous success of Can the home ever be safe?
, RoSPA has just launched the Safer by design
framework, developed in consultation with industry, which sets out how new-build homes can be designed and built to be safer, particularly for young children and older people.
Play is essential to child development, both mentally and physically. Through play, children acquire skills and abilities which can be learnt in no other way. Having safe spaces for play is therefore extremely important. RoSPA provides advice
on the design, construction and suitability of equipment for play parks to ensure a safe space for children to grow and play safely.
In line with Transport Scotland outcomes, RoSPA in Scotland focuses efforts on reducing the number of casualties on Scotland’s roads, especially among those who are most vulnerable.
Through the Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ScORSA
), we provide relevant information, guidance and training for small to medium-sized enterprises to keep all those who drive for work in Scotland safe.
We are also working to provide better information and guidance for drivers over the age of 65 so they can continue to drive safely for as long as possible.
Priority 2: A Scotland where we flourish in our early years
In 2018, unintentional injuries in Scotland accounted for 1 in 9 emergency hospital admissions for children. Many more children are treated by GPs and by parents and carers following an accident. Those most at risk of being injured are under-5s. Every year, accidents leave several thousands of children permanently disabled or disfigured.
Most of these accidents are preventable through increasing awareness of key risks and how they can be mitigated, leading to behaviour change among parents and carers, and physical improvements in the home environment.
At RoSPA, we are committed to ensuring children can live and flourish in the early years without the pain and suffering of serious accidental injury. We constantly seek to raise awareness and encourage behaviour change through campaigns such as our joint project with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – Not for Play – Keep Them Away
– which focused on preventing the ingestion of laundry liquid capsules. Our most recent campaign – Keeping Kids Safe in the Home
– provides parents of under-5s with lifesaving advice and tools to help keep their children safe.
Priority 3: A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing
In 2017/18, 595,000 workers in the UK suffered from work related stress, depression and anxiety
It is important to recognise that work-related stress can aggravate and trigger mental health problems and poor mental wellbeing. RoSPA has strongly supported the adoption of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Management Standards for Work Related Stress and the Healthy Working Lives “Work Positive” Toolkit, and we have participated in the Healthy Working Lives Mentally Healthy Workplaces training. We are also working with partners to provide advice and signposting for employers through our National Occupational Safety and Health Committee
Priority 4: A Scotland where we reduce the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
Alcohol and drugs play a large part in unintentional injury. For example, recent research has shown the following:
- 250 people were killed and there were around 8,600 casualties in total in drink-driving accidents in Great Britain in 2017
- 26 per cent of accidental water-related fatalities in Scotland in 2018 involved drugs and/or alcohol
- In 2015, more than one in four (27 per cent) of adults hospitalised due to alcohol in Scotland were admitted for an unintentional injury.
RoSPA is committed to playing its part to help reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs.
Priority 5: A Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all
RoSPA supports a “whole-life” approach to work where people are supported to meet their full potential. We support inclusion and equality for all in the workplace by, for example:
Priority 6: A Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active
- Recognising the evidence that appropriate work is good for the nation’s health. While acknowledging the role that rehabilitation and return to work plays in the attainment of fulfilled and fulfilling lives, our focus on prevention highlights the impact that work that exposes people to harm has on their functional capacity and longevity.
- Communicating what “good work looks like”, including around the impact of an ageing population, and putting people back at the heart of the sustainability agenda. This can assist businesses to support workers across the life course, bringing personal and organisational benefits.
- Highlighting the needs of apprentices and the increasing number of people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities starting apprenticeships, such as through our Inquiry into the health and safety needs of apprentices. We work with partners to help tackle challenges such as this and wider challenges in relation to young workers. For example, the Safety Groups UK Learning About Occupational Health Through Experiencing Risk (LOcHER) programme brings young people together to learn about managing health risk in the workplace. This is an important step to help reduce the potential for long-latency disease and its impact on their health and wellbeing and contributes to them reaching their full potential.
- Bringing together higher-performing organisations in Scotland through the RoSPA Awards Excellence Forum, enabling them to discuss work-related health and safety issues within a local context, culture and industry. These organisations also assist RoSPA to develop the evidence base for “carry over” safety programmes from the workplace into other parts of life, a current focus being falls prevention.
The vast majority – in fact, 86 per cent – of unintentional injuries to those over the age of 65 are due to falls
. We are committed to reducing this by helping older people stay physically active. Some of our key work includes:
- The production of a short guide to help older people stay fit, healthy and accident free
- Free videos on facing up to falls and how to get up safely after a fall
- Joint work with the Technology Enabled Care Programme to provide advice and information for both carers and older people themselves on the safest action after a fall
- Contributing to the Falls and Fragility framework
- Providing training for practitioners on falls and older peoples’ safety
- Advocating for balance and strength exercises.
We also advocate cycling to keep fit and provide information on cycling safety as well as other activities such as winter sports and water sports.
In line with our vision for life, free from serious accidental injury, we seek to exchange life-enhancing skills and knowledge to demonstrate that accidents don’t have to happen. We love the fact that our work on this topic fits so perfectly within the wider context of public health in Scotland, and value the relationships we have with so many other key players across the sector. Together we can make a difference, working for lives that are more active, healthier and safer across Scotland.
Carlene McAvoy, RoSPA community safety development manager, Scotland
Posted: 1/23/2020 10:51:02 AM