As a consequence of general policy guidelines on health, safety and the environment, specific guidelines on the management of occupational health were issued in 1989. The objective of these 'Occupational Health Management Guidelines' is to assist the management of operating companies in fulfilling their responsibility to maintain high standards of occupational health, thereby ensuring compliance with legislation and adherence to company policy. The guidelines present the key elements of an occupational health programme. They clearly describe occupational health as a management responsibility that can be managed in the same manner as safety and other aspects of the business.

To obtain a better idea of current standards and practices of occupational health management, Shell companies were requested to report on the contents, objectives and results of their occupational health programme, preferably in the format of an annual internal occupational health report. Analysis of the data received shows that, over a two-year period, considerable progress has been made. However, it also transpires that a planned, logical approach in occupational health is still lacking in several companies and most companies need to review their programme according to the philosophy of the Occupational Health Management Guidelines. In particular, a greater emphasis should be placed on proper health risk assessment, the basic step in an occupational health programme. There is often also an unnecessary reliance on medical examinations with an usually inadequate analysis of data generated and subsequent justification of these procedures.

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