Effective Management of Health and Safety Programs: A Practical Guide, 3rd edition. Moser R Jr., ed., Berverly Farms, MA: OEM Press, 2008 Mar; :267-279
Since the publication of the earlier editions of this text, consulting relationships between health care professionals and industry have come under increased scrutiny [1-3]. Links between academic institutions and the pharmaceutical industry, in particular, have raised questions about ethical challenges and conflicts of interest may may affect professionals . In 2007, a national survey of physicians addressed consulting links between physicians and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries; results showed that most physicians (approximately 94 percent of 3,167) had some type of relationship with these industries, ranging from financial reimbursements for meetings to gifts to lecture fees . Although occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) specialists were not surveyed in the study, the message for the discipline is none the less clear: In providing services to industry, the OEHS professional must be aware of potential ethical challenges and strive to demonstrate the highest principles of integrity. Although OEHS physicians do not have the attendant responsibilities and pressures of prescribing certain medications to the extent that primary care physicians have, other challenges to their professional integrity and ethics may surface. For example, industry-sponsored research, and professionals who participate in such work, face continued challenges regarding potential conflicts of interest. Nonetheless, as the science of occupational and environmental expands to meet new challenges in the workplace such as nanotechnology, genetics, and biotechnology, considerable opportunities and challenges will be available for OEHS professionals who provide consulting services. In this chapter, the term consultant refers to professionals who deliver services within their domain of expertise to an organizational entity and in a non-employee status. The chapter primarily addresses the range of services OEHS professionals provide and gives practical guidance on both becoming and selecting a consultant. SUMMARY: Health and safety consultants are likely to continue to have considerable opportunities in the coming years. In fact, the complexity of running many businesses, especially manufacturing operations, includes diverse elements in health and safety, such as legal liability, regulatory accountability, and standards of care, among others. These challenges will likely result in further demand for high-quality health and safety consulting services. Businesses, however, need to be apprised of the capabilities of health and safety consultants, who, in turn, would be wise to enhance their skills in understanding business operations. Stimulating consulting challenges are likely to appear in many areas of health and safety, including the academic/private sector (especially in conducting research) in education and in training. Although potential conflicts of interest may arise in any academic/industry relation, balancing the benefits and risk can overcome such impediments . Notable concerns about ethical issues have focused generally on the biotechnology industry, genetics [12), and federally funded clinical trials. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, full disclosure of other professional commitments is advisable for anyone considering working as a health and safety consultant [13).
Management-personnel; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs; Decision-making; Training; Education; Occupational-health; Environmental-health; Safety-personnel; Teaching; Pharmaceutical-industry; Professional-workers; Physicians; Medical-equipment; Standards; Regulations; Health-services; Health-standards; Safety-education; Health-care; Safety-research; Biotechnology-industry; Genetics