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A clinical view on health and safety

14 March 2019
3 min read
Volume 28 · Issue 5


Sam Foster, Chief Nurse, Oxford University Hospitals, reflects on the need for risk assessment as an integral part of providing safe, quality care

If I were to say the words ‘health and safety’ to a nurse they would most likely conjure up a vision of a clipboard-holding individual wearing a fluorescent jacket, possibly in a hard hat, standing on a building site seeking assurances. We might, as nurses, take our thoughts further, and start to think about areas such as COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessments for the store cupboards that we typically have on our wards and departments. Rarely do I think we see our nursing roles, particularly those of us in leadership roles, as having a significant impact on health and safety.

This year, when one of my board colleagues left I was asked by my chief executive to temporarily take the lead on health and safety. I must admit, I was quite daunted—although I knew that we had a great health and safety team, it wasn't too long before colleagues were reminding me of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which provides a statutory offence of corporate manslaughter if it is found that senior managers organise or manage an organisation's activities in any way that:

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