AFOEM eBulletin – 6 April 2018

Workplace Health Without Borders – Occupational Health Practitioners subgroup

In September 2017, I was appointed to the Board of Workplace Health Without Borders (WHWB) (International) which is a global not-for-profit organisation formed in the spring of 2011 to address occupational health and safety issues around the world. The organisation was originally the brainchild of a group of occupational hygienists who recognised that their skills were needed in parts of the world where the specialist training they had received, was not available. 

The vision of WHWB is ‘A world where workers do not get sick because of their work’. Its mission is to engage occupational health professionals to ensure that workers and employers throughout the world have the knowledge and means to prevent work-related disease. This is an ambitious target, and one that cannot be solved with hygienists alone.

The Board of WHWB (International) believe that the interface between the worker and health care providers offer a unique opportunity to identify occupational illnesses and work-related death caused by exposure to health hazards. In many cases, when the worker is assessed and a diagnosis is made, it is too late to prevent the progression of the illness which may result in death.

The WHWB has a project underway in India which is helping to address silica exposure among agate workers who breath in high concentrations of fine dust containing silica when polishing stones into gems used in jewellery. The work is often located in the home, resulting in entire families, including children, getting sick from breathing the dust. Exposure is linked to debilitating, often fatal, lung diseases like silicosis and cancer and is also known to predispose workers to pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic airflow limitation, lung cancer, renal and other diseases. There is a general lack of education and awareness among workers, employers and even local medical practitioners and control measures are hard to implement because of the cost of materials and electrical power.

The WHWB team received a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to undertake a two-day workshop in 2014 which identified eight locations in the state with the highest number of stone crushing workers. WHWB then worked with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the People’s Training and Research Centre in India to develop an occupational disease prevention toolkit focusing on preventing silica exposure and designed prototypes of low cost engineering controls. The team also met with jewellery traders, health care providers and government agencies to encourage incentives and promotion activities to reduce silica exposure.

WHWB (International) is setting up a subgroup within the organisation focused on the clinical aspects of occupational health. The aim of the group is to improve the availability of advanced occupational medicine to areas of the world where it may not be available at present. This subgroup will be comprised of interested individuals working in a clinical field, or with a clinical qualification within occupational health – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and others. 

For more information about the subgroup, please contact Dr Clare Wood via email  drclarewood@gmail.com. All interested practitioners will need to be members of WHWB to be part of this subgroup. You can find information about joining on the WHWB website.

Dr Clare Wood
Occupational Physician
 

A message from your President

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Miguel Kabilio to the AFOEM Council as the inaugural representative of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM). Miguel is a highly regarded Occupational and Environmental Physician with over 20 years of experience in a wide range of industries including oil and gas, mining and health. He originally trained in Buenos Aries as an ophthalmologist before joining the Faculty in 2014. 

Miguel’s appointment to this new position on Council is a real embodiment of the development of the Model of Collaboration between AFOEM and ANZSOM. It will facilitate direct communication, so that both organisations can gain increasing benefits from the collaboration.  Miguel is actively engaged in both entities as demonstrated by his roles as Chair of the ANZSOM Western Australia (WA) Branch, a member of the AFOEM WA Regional Committee and Chair of the AFOEM WA Education subcommittee.  Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Miguel.

I am delighted to confirm that, at the meeting on Friday, 16 March, the Board accepted the recommendation of AFOEM Council to extend the arrangements between the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine (HKCCM) and AFOEM, for a further five years. This will include the provision of the AFOEM Stage B Written Examination and an external examiner. I extend my sincere thanks to all the Fellows and Faculty staff who have assisted in this process over the last few years. 
The AFOEM relationship with HKCCM is long-standing and is an important part of our Faculty history of international collaboration. We have been able to effectively review and update our procedures and policies for the examination, to ensure its continued success. We look forward to continuing to work successfully with HKCCM.

Dr Johnn Olsen has now completed his term as the chair of the AFOEM Training Committee. On behalf of Council, the Faculty Education Committee, the Fellows and trainees I express our sincere thanks to Johnn for all his hard work and commitment in chairing the Training Committee, which is such an important role in the Faculty. I congratulate and welcome Dr Armand Casolin who has now been appointed to the position.

The scoping phase of the Employment Poverty and Health (EPH) Project has made excellent progress and the draft has been reviewed and approved by FPAC. Thank you to the Policy & Advocacy Unit for conducting a comprehensive review of RACP, AFOEM and other college’s publications in this area.  The aim of the project is to determine how doctors can effectively influence the social determinants of health (SDOH), including employment, to improve population health and wellbeing. The project will continue under AFOEM leadership over the next six to 12 months.

Dr Andrew Jeremijenko continues his passionate advocacy to raise public awareness about the potential health effects of Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) exposures. Andrew has been interviewed by the ABC and he also contributed to a feature article in The Herald Sun and an editorial about his views and recommendations to the PFAS Expert Health Panel. 

I regret to advise that on 21 March I resigned my position as a Director on the Board of the RACP. A recent experience on the Board has motivated me to examine my reasons for being part of the Board. I was not personally in agreement with a decision that was made and I therefore reached a conclusion that my position on the Board was untenable. I can reassure the Faculty that this will not affect my role as President of AFOEM and I remain fully committed to continue to work for the benefit of AFOEM and the College.

With best wishes,
Associate Professor Peter Connaughton
President, AFOEM

Collaborative Partnership initial meeting  

The Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation, which includes the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM – represented by Dr Robin Chase), insurer EML, the Department of Jobs and Small Business, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Department of Social Services, was formally launched on 7 March 2018 and met in Melbourne on Tuesday, 13 March 2018. The Partnership is working across sectors to improve disability employment and return to work rates for people experiencing work incapacity through illness and injury. 

The meeting on 13 March was an opportunity to update key stakeholders on the progress of the current projects being undertaken by the Collaborative Partnership. 

It was communicated that the most advanced body of work is the Cross-sector project, led by the Department of Social Services. The initial phase of this project was research undertaken by experts at Monash University’s Insurance Work and Health Group and led by its Director, Professor Alex Collie. These research findings are the first step in establishing an evidence base in this critical area of public health and social policy.

The research produced a high-level map of 10 major systems of income and benefit support in Australia including workers’ compensation, motor accident compensation, life insurance, veterans’ compensation, disability support and superannuation. 

The systems are variously regulated by state, territory and Commonwealth government authorities. The approach to system governance and benefit delivery varies substantially. In addition, each system has a unique set of rules and processes for determining who is eligible to access income support, the level of support provided, and the duration for which support will be provided.

Using publicly available data and data provided by members of the Collaborative Partnership (CP) it was possible to estimate the number of people accessing each benefit system for the 2015/16 financial year, as well as total income support expenditure. The results were staggering; during the 2015/16 financial year an estimated 786,000 people who were unable to work due to ill health, injury or disability received income support from a Commonwealth, state, territory or private source. An additional 6.5 million people accessed employer provided leave entitlements for short periods of work incapacity. A total of $37.2 billion was spent on income support for these people during the year. This does not even begin to consider total costs including medical or allied health expenditures. 

Work-related injury, which is ‘only’ part of the above, represents a huge economic and health burden – affecting more than half a million workers each year and, by Safe Work Australia’s estimate, at a total cost to the economy of at least $61.8 billion, or around four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The research highlights that this dramatically underestimates the true burden of health-related work incapacity in Australia. What’s missing is the burden associated with many illnesses, diseases and conditions that don’t happen in the course of employment, but still affect people’s ability to remain in work. This was underlined in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s national burden of disease study. It showed that many of the common physical and mental health conditions that frequently cause work incapacity – back pain, shoulder pain and anxiety – account for three of the five major conditions affecting people of working age in Australia.

The various systems that support people with injury and illness that affect work capacity all have common goals: prevention, rehabilitation, promotion and engagement in good work and minimisation of costs. In isolation, none of them can achieve these objectives at a national level. To date very little attention has been paid to how these systems intersect and interact. The Cross-Sector project seeks to change that – to understand these relationships better, and improve them to deliver better outcomes for all Australians.

Dr Robin Chase
Occupational Physician

RACP Congress 2018 – ​five weeks to go

RACP Congress 2018 will take place at the International Convention Centre, Sydney, from 14 ​to 16 May 2018. With only five weeks to go make sure you register now for the pre-eminent event for all physicians in Australia and New Zealand.

The RACP Congress program will pose challenges, share the latest clinical and research updates and encourage delegates to think differently with sessions such as: Future of work staff global welfare with Mr Gastón Carrión. 

For more information on the RACP Congress program and speakers visit the Congress website www.racpcongress.com.au

ANZSOM 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting

The Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting will be held in Melbourne from Sunday, 7 to Wednesday, 10 October. The diverse program will highlight varying perspectives in occupational health including clinical updates, setting-specific issues, legal considerations and more. Workshops will build practical skills and site visits will bring learning to life across a number of fascinating workplaces. The conference will appeal to the wide range of professionals working in workplace health and provide unique networking opportunities. 

The meeting coincides with the 50th anniversary of ANZSOM which was formally established in 1968 in a historically fascinating way. 

The following is an abstract from the ANZOM website written by Dr E.M. (Mannie) Rathus.

In Australia the occupational health cauldron began boiling in the sixties with a contemporaneous surging of interest in all states. There were individuals in medicine who had recognised the importance of occupational health and small numbers of general practitioners in Queensland who practised in industrial areas were beginning to realise that they were faced with problems beyond those requiring first aid.

In the 1950's there had been a section of Industrial Medicine in the Victorian Branch BMA (later AMA) and a corresponding section of the BMA (later AMA) existed in New South Wales (NSW). In 1966 the Victorian and NSW sections held a joint meeting at Cabramurra to discuss the possibility of creating a national body. In 1968 the Victorian section was approached by the Secretary of the NSW. Section regarding the formation of an Australia-wide association. This meeting was held on Friday, 25 October 1968 at the Australian Institute of Anatomy, Canberra and was attended by about 32 members. These sober and enthusiastic colleagues on that day made a momentous decision and resolved to form the Australian Society of Occupational Medicine (ASOM) and all those attending became Foundation Members. 

Between 1970 and 1972 New Zealand physicians had shown great interest in the Australian Society of Occupational Medicine, and at the Scientific Meeting held in Melbourne in 1972 the name of the Society was changed and became The Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine and thus ANZSOM was born.

For the complete history of ANZSOM written by Dr E.M. (Mannie) Rathus please visit the ANZSOM website

History of Medicine Session – RACP Congress

Do you have an interest in the early days of the College? Would you like to share your research?
An opportunity exists to speak at the RACP Congress, 2018 in the History of Medicine Session.

You are invited to submit a short abstract (200 words max) for consideration. We look forward to hearing from our historians.

We invite you to submit your abstracts to Library.Heritage.Committee@racp.edu.au by Sunday, 22 April 2018.

$10,000 funding opportunity

Are you thinking of doing further training and getting more technical experience? Do you need funding to develop educational initiatives or present your research at a conference?

Applications are open for the RACP AFOEM Education Development Grant for 2018, which supports advancement of occupational and environmental medicine knowledge.

Applications close on Monday, 28 May 2018. Visit the RACP Foundation webpage for full details of other awards. For information about the eligibility criteria or application process, please contact the Foundation ​at foundation@racp.edu.au or phone +61 ​2 9256 9639.

Trainees' Day 2018 – reduced registration rate

RACP Trainees’ Day and Trainees' Dinner is an opportunity for Basic and Advanced Trainees to network and discuss professional critical topics and training pathways. 

We are pleased to advise that due to the generous contribution from our sponsors Trainees' Day registration rate is now AUD $50. 

We would like to thank our sponsors Westpac, Avant Mutual, Novartis, Professional Transcription Solutions and the NSW Government for making this reduced rate possible. 

Trainees who have already registered will be contacted and will receive a refund equivalent to the difference in the registration rates.

Register and view the program on the Congress website

Evolve posters at RACP Congress 

Evolve will be at RACP Congress to share and promote effective strategies that help implement the Evolve recommendations into everyday clinical practice. To stimulate ideas, discussions and action, there is an opportunity for you to showcase your work on Evolve to your colleagues. There will be no formal Congress selection process or presentation on these posters. If you are interested in being a part of this event, please contact evolve@racp.edu.auand we’d be happy to support you in developing a poster for display.

Evolve resources
For the latest Evolve resources to help implement the recommendations in your daily work, visit evolve.edu.au/resources.  

Updated Physician Readiness for Expert Practice (PREP) Program Requirement Handbooks now available

The new PREP Program Requirements are now available on the relevant Basic Training and Advanced Training specialty web pages.

Basic Training
The 2019 Basic Training Program Requirements apply to all trainees registered in a PREP Basic Training program in 2019. Program requirements for 2020 will be released in line with the revised Basic Training Curricula.

Advanced Training
The 2019–20 Advanced Training Program Requirements are available on the new Advanced Training specialty web pages. The 2019–20 Requirements apply to all trainees registered in a PREP program in 2019 and/or 2020.

PREP trainees and their supervisors should familiarise themselves with the updated program requirements for their specialty. It is the responsibility of the trainee to ensure that they are following the correct guidelines for each training year.

Interested in being featured in Women's Agenda?

Women’s Agenda is an online publication for career-minded women that’s looking to feature more women in medicine, and cover issues relevant to women pursuing careers in health. They regularly run Q&As and profiles on a wide range of different women. If you’re interested in potentially being featured, you can contact the Marketing and Communications team at media@racp.edu.au. You can check out the publication online: www.womensagenda.com.au

CPD credits registration date

Due to a technical issue with the MyCPD platform a small number of Fellows were unable to register their CPD credits before the due date – 31 March 2018.

​Impacted Fellows have been individually contacted and have been given an extension until Monday, 9 April to complete their 2017 MyCPD record.

If you have any questions the CPD team can be contacted using the following details.
Australia - MyCPD@racp.edu.au, +61 2 8247 6201
New Zealand - MyCPD@racp.org.nz, +64 4 460 8122

AMA Public Health Awards 2018 – call for nominations 

The AMA is seeking nominations of people or groups who have made an extraordinary contribution to health care and public health. Recipients will be invited to attend the 2018 AMA National Conference in Canberra in May 2018, where the awards will be presented. In the year following the presentation of the awards, recipients will have the opportunity to participate in interviews with interested media, and engage in AMA supported activities promoting their work in their field of expertise. 

Nominations are sought in the following categories: 

  • AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award
  • AMA Woman in Medicine Award.

More information regarding the awards and the nomination process may be found on the AMA website. Nominations close COB Monday, 23 ​April 2018.

Career opportunities

View all ​positions vacant

Conferences and events

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses. 

Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine Toowoomba conference – Innovation in Aeromedical Transport

View all occupational and environmental health medicine events.

Go to the events list at any time to see what events are coming up.

AFOEM contact details

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Victoria Patterson, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6351
Email: afoem@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Georgina Kempton, Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8247 6268
Email: occenvmed@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit
Email: examinations@racp.edu.au

AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit
Email: accreditation@racp.edu.au

AFOEM CPD enquiries:
Email: mycpd@racp.edu.au
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