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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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New roles for Pearce and Gander

Two directors from the Research School of Public Health have been appointed to key positions within a new five-member National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee announced by Labour Minister Margaret Wilson.

The committee will provide expert independent advice on major occupational safety and health issues directly to government, chaired by Professor Neil Pearce. Professor Pearce is the Director of the University’s Centre for Public Health Research, and has particular interests in epidemiological methods, asthma, chronic diseases and the association of social class with mortality.

Serving on the committee will be Professor Philippa Gander, who directs the University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre. Professor Gander is a specialist in circadian physiology, and has interests in occupational fatigue, shift work and sleep research.

Ms Wilson says the committee membership represents an excellent balance of research and professional expertise covering most areas of occupational health and safety. The committee’s first task is to develop a research agenda to inform the Government’s research initiatives and provide direction to the wider research community.

“At present the research infrastructure for occupational health and safety in this country is fragmented, with expertise spread across a diverse range of universities and departments. Although the Department of Labour seeks expert advice on health and safety issues, until now there has been no advisory body of experts to provide an independent assessment direct to government.”

Research, particularly in regard to emerging health issues, will be an invaluable guide for future government policy in the health and safety area, Ms Wilson says.

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