Occupational Physicians Reporting Activity (OPRA)

OPRA started collecting information about cases of disease or illness caused by work in 1996. The scheme currently comprises:

  • Approximately 300 consultant occupational physicians who are based in National Health Service hospitals and private industry throughout the UK
  • 34 of these are 'core' reporters who report to OPRA every month
  • The remainder are mainly 'sample' reporters who report for one month each year
  • Two reporters from the Health and Safety Executive also report to OPRA every month

Information reported to OPRA gives a very broad picture of occupational disease and work-related conditions in the UK since OPRA incorporates all of the categories covered by the other THOR component schemes:

  • Respiratory (SWORD)
  • Skin (EPIDERM)
  • Musculoskeletal (MOSS)
  • Hearing (OSSA)
  • Mental ill-health (SOSMI)
  • Infectious disease (SIDAW)
  • Other conditions not included elsewhere

The commonest diseases reported are:

  • Musculoskeletal, e.g. back pain and upper limb disorders
  • Mental ill-health, e.g. anxiety, depression and stress

A significant number of cases of contact dermatitis are also reported.

The musculoskeletal (spine and limb) problems not only affect people carrying, lifting and manufacturing, but also office workers involved in tasks such as intensive computer work. The high numbers of musculoskeletal cases reported suggest that the awareness of methods to reduce the physical risks of work, such as safer lifting methods and safe weight limits, needs to be increased. For computer users, an awareness of ergonomic design of working areas and correct posture, plus the need for regular breaks and alternating tasks, should be heightened.

The types of mental ill-health reported reflect the fact that in many industries or professions, especially in contexts such as health care, a range of stressors are putting extra strain on employees.

The OPRA scheme also serves to highlight cases which may have not have reached other specialist consultants, and so acts as a useful cross-reference both within THOR and for those monitoring the THOR research results.

Reporting to OPRA

Details of how to report and methods of reporting to OPRA:

What OPRA reporters say

Personal views from Dr T Hussain and Dr D F Gallagher.
For further details, see: Why report to OPRA?

Some OPRA reporters use THOR data to assist them in benchmarking the incidence rates of work related ill health in their companies, for example, the account by Dr J McCaul.

Studies

  • OPRA denominator study
    Three-year rolling survey to investigate the estimated number and industry of employees who are under the care of the occupational physicians in OPRA
  • Diagnostic preferences study
    A study to examine the validity and reliability of mental ill-health diagnoses reported by occupational health physicians and consultant psychiatrists
  • Asthma study
    Exploring occupational asthma diagnosis using respiratory case studies

Database information sheet

Further information for patients requesting details on THOR, see: THOR database information sheet (PDF, 110 KB)