Occupational health is an essential field of health care. This public health field focuses on ensuring employee well-being and safety in the workplace.
every year 340 million occupational accidents occur around the world. Additionally, 160 million victims suffer due to workplace injuries and illnesses.Source: International Labor Organization
Employees are what runs a company. So, they are the most important investment of any business.
When an employee becomes injured on the job, bringing him back to health becomes the top concern.
However, preventing employees from becoming injured or ill in the first place should be the primary goal.
Hence, workplace health mainly focuses on employee injury prevention.
In addition, occupational healthcare services include pre-placement testing and employee wellness. Furthermore, employees are offered mental health assessments, occupational therapy, and more.
Prioritizing occupational safety and health is crucial for both individual and business well-being. Because it leads to higher productivity and lower costs for healthcare.
Regardless of what type of business a company runs, it should take occupational safety and health more seriously.
Moreover, employees should adequately know about their workplace health and safety rights.
So, whether you are an employer or employee, read on to learn all about occupational health care.
History of Occupational Health
Historically, the focus on occupational safety was mainly centered on workers who did manual labor. This included factory workers, miners, construction employees, etc.
After the Civil War ended, factories started opening throughout the United States.
However, these factories frequently employed minors as well as inexperienced workers. On top of that, the factories were riddled with safety risks.
According to the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor, back then, equipment was faulty, and the factories were dirty. These and poor ventilation forced the workers to breathe in toxic fumes.
Unfortunately, thousands of workers faced fatal injuries and lifelong illnesses. All due to the lack of occupational safety and health.
Finally, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established to ensure workplace safety and health care.
After the establishment of OSHA and the occupational health Act, workplace accidents were reduced by 65%.Source: Occupational Safety And Health Administration
So, that is where occupational safety and health started its journey. From there, we have come a long way with occupational health programs.
What Is Occupational Health?
So, what is occupational health?
According to World Health Organization,
Occupational health is a public health field that promotes employees’ physical, mental, and social health in all occupations.Source: World Health Organization
The practice and science of occupational safety involve several disciplines. For example, mental health, social health, occupational medicine, nursing, psychology, hygiene, etc.
In essence, occupational health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace.
Occupational safety works to mitigate the risk of injuries and disease. Besides, it includes working hours, workplace policies, employee leaves, salary, etc.
Primarily, the goal of workplace health is to treat existing health problems. Additionally, it tries to identify and reduce risks that cause such health issues.
Other than that, employers have to abide by the OSHA standards for working conditions. Additionally, the working environment should promote sound mental health too.
Finally, occupational safety mandates employers to devise rehabilitation programs for injured workers.
Objective of Occupational Health
Occupational health and safety refers to the health and well-being of employees at work.
The main objectives of occupational safety include:
- Improving the availability of occupational health services.
- Educating employees about their health and safety rights.
- Promoting a safety-first work culture for ensuring employees’ health.
- Prevention and mitigation of workplace illness and accidents.
- Improvement of the work environment to make it conducive to worker safety.
- Development of action plans and national policies to promote occupational safety.
- Ensure collaboration with other national health programs.
Why is Occupation Health Important?
So, why is occupational health given so much importance?
Failing to implement occupational safety will harm both the organization and the employee.
Moreover, occupational safety is crucial to prevent and treat workplace injuries. But how common are the risks of workplace injuries?
According to the National Safety Council, one workplace accident happens every seven seconds. That is 540 workplace injuries per hour!
Employers pay more than one billion dollars per week as compensation for workplace accidents and injuries. And this cost doesn’t even count the other demerits.
For example, workplace injuries expose employees to tremendous physical, mental, and psychological challenges.
So, occupational health is a must to:
- Prevent workplace accidents and injuries
- Provide necessary care to injured employees
- Ensure good work hours, policy, and environment
- Take care of employees’ mental and psychological health
- Moreover, workplaces are legally obligated to maintain occupational health and safety guidelines.
Hence, occupational safety and health is essential to protect employees from risk and hazards. Furthermore, it saves employers from losing billions to insurance companies.
Benefits of Occupational Health
Strong occupational health reduces workplace injuries and risks. Other benefits include the following:
- Reduced Expenses for Employers
- Workers Compensation
- Strong Workplace Safety
- Boosts Employee Morale
- Improves Goodwill
- Ensures Overall Health & Wellness
Reduced Expenses for Employers
Occupational safety involves identifying the areas of risk in the workplace.
Then, educate employees on safety guidelines to reduce and eliminate workplace injuries. This reduces the money employers lose every year on workers’ compensation.
Moreover, employers don’t have to spend on expensive treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Occupational health programs educate the workers on their rights to get proper treatment. Moreover, workers learn how to file for adequate compensation for their injury or illness.
Strong Workplace Safety
Strong occupational safety and health programs make the workplace safer.
For example, employers can organize health screenings. These will ensure employees operating risky equipment are physically fit to do so.
Also, workshops are organized to teach workers how to operate machinery safely to avoid accidents.
Boosts Employee Morale
Workers will feel more valued if workplace health is prioritized and proper safety measures are implemented.
This results in a significant increase in morale, which enhances employee productivity.
Maintaining occupational health has a direct impact on the company’s reputation.
For example, companies prioritizing occupational safety and health receive appreciation from their employees, clients, and the media.
Ensures Overall Health & Wellness
Occupational safety programs help minimize the risk of workplace health issues. This also includes mental health evaluations of employees.
What’s more, access to mental health resources and wellness programs can empower employees. So they’ll be able to tackle every situation efficiently.
Occupational Health Services
The primary goal of occupational health is to ensure a safe and secure working environment for employees.
Occupational health takes a proactive and preventive approach to employee health and wellness. It may provide a variety of services.
Here are the most common occupational health services employers offer to their workers:
- Occupational Medicine
- Physical Therapy
- Physical Exams
- Medical Specialist
- Tests & Screenings
- Behavioral Health Services
- Mental Health Services
- Workers’ Compensation & Injury Care
Here work-related injuries or illnesses are treated. Employers hire physicians trained in occupational injury diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, these professionals teach employees how to be safe at work.
This is an active treatment approach given to injured employees. It allows them to recover swiftly so they can return to work soon.
Physical examinations include pre-placement health screening.
In addition, employees are given regulatory and return-to-work health exams. These services ensure occupational health and safety in the workplace.
Some workplace injuries and illnesses require extensive treatment. For example, injuries that require surgical treatment fall under this service.
Here, medical specialists provide fast and effective treatment to the employee.
Tests & Screenings
Pre-placement screening, workplace drug screenings, and alcohol testing are part of this service.
Employers can keep constant telemedicine services for their employees. This service can provide on-demand health care to employees.
Vaccinations are required to protect your workers against infectious diseases. In addition, employers can consider quarantine for employees who have traveled recently.
Behavioral Health Services
Employees may benefit from access to onsite behavioral health specialists.
However, telemedicine health services could be beneficial if that’s not possible. Additionally, health screening measures should be available.
These would ensure sound behavioral health and battle addiction and pain.
Mental Health Services
Ensuring employees’ sound mental health is as important as their physical fitness.
If they are stressed, depressed, and anxious, the business outcome will suffer greatly. So, employers should take measures to improve workers’ mental health.
Therefore, ensuring a friendly and stress-free work environment can go a long way.
In addition, employers can hire therapists to counsel employees suffering mentally and emotionally.
Additionally, self-guided cognitive and behavioral therapy courses could be made available. These could help improve employees’ overall health.
Workers’ Compensation & Injury Care
This service includes preparing customized treatment plans for injured workers. It also provides pain management strategies for gravely injured employees.
Moreover, it includes the monetary compensation they’ll receive for their injury.
How to Improve Occupational Health
Want to improve the occupational health of your employees? Here are some tips you can follow to begin:
- Establish Safety First Motto
- Monitor Employees Overall Health
- Offer Effective Medical Insurance
- Proper Support for Sick Leave
- Offer Guidance & Advice to Employees
- Improve the Work Environment
Establish Safety First Motto
As an employer, you should identify the risky points of the workplace and encourage safe working methods.
Moreover, you must ensure compliance with OSHA’s legal standards.
So, organize workshops and meetings to teach employees about the safety first method. Make it clear that nothing is as important as employee safety.
Monitor Employees Overall Health
You should appoint someone to monitor employee health closely. Also, identify if something in the workplace is making them sick.
Additionally, appoint an in-house doctor who can assist employees with minor illnesses.
Offer Effective Medical Insurance
Every organization should offer medical health insurance to their employees. Health insurance covers the expenses of accidental workplace injuries and unexpected illnesses.
Proper Support for Sick Leave
Another important aspect of occupational health is providing workers with proper support in case of sick leave.
Your management should help find them better treatment plans and approve the required sick leave.
Moreover, you should plan how your workload will be handled in the absence of employees.
Offer Guidance & Advice to Employees
Mental and psychological health is also a crucial part of occupational health. So, organize weekly, quarterly, or monthly mental health workshops with professionals.
Moreover, employees go through work pressure, life crisis, and other problems. So you can contact a therapist who’ll advise and guide the employees in times of need.
Improve the Work Environment
The work environment has a significant impact on employees’ occupational health. Continuously working under pressure and stress can negatively impact their overall health.
So, keep the work environment stress-free and friendly. Additionally, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and work milestones.
Moreover, you can organize game days and weekend retreats for employees to improve their morale.