What’s the Difference Between Occupational Health and Occupational Safety?

Unravel the distinction between occupational health and safety to create a healthier, safer, and more productive workplace. Occupational health focuses on enhancing both physical and mental well-being, including lifestyle choices, genetic predispositions, and mental health, alongside workplace hazards. It aims to promote employee wellness through tailored programs, addressing issues like sedentary lifestyles, smoking cessation, disease management, and weight loss. In contrast, occupational safety concentrates on preventing workplace accidents and injuries. It is governed by regulations and standards, such as those set by OSHA, that mandate safe working conditions. Navigating these nuances can be challenging, but by embracing both health and safety, employers can build a culture of well-being and safety, boosting morale and reducing costs. Let Work Health Solutions guide you towards creating a healthier, safer, and more efficient work environment.
occupational health and occupational safety

Though occupational health and occupational safety sound similar, they refer to separate fields of employee wellness. Occupational health refers to the maintenance of workers’ physical and mental well-being. This means helping employees improve their overall quality of life through health and wellness initiatives. On the other hand, occupational safety focuses on reducing risks in the workplace. This means preventing accidents from happening and providing resources or training to reduce negative consequences. Together, occupational health and safety provide a comprehensive approach to employee well-being, promoting employee health in all aspects of their lives.

Occupational Health: Promoting Wellness

Occupational health aims to promote employee physical, mental, and social wellness. This holistic approach to employee wellness goes beyond the workplace to account for lifestyle choices, genetic predispositions, and mental health. 

Occupational health recognizes the importance of employees’ physical health for maintaining work productivity, thus encouraging employees to seek preventative healthcare and make healthy lifestyle choices. Occupational health programs also focus on mental and emotional well-being, recognizing that work-related stress is increasingly common. These programs provide employees access to mental health resources, such as stress management seminars, yoga classes, and counseling sessions. Additionally, creating workplace protocols and procedures that value employee work-life balance is another essential element of occupational health. 

Occupational health typically takes the form of workplace health and wellness programs featuring a range of initiatives to support employees on their journey to healthier lives. Every organization’s wellness program will look different because the needs of every employee set are different. A good health and wellness program is one that your employees will use. Health programs can be personalized to fit the needs and goals of your staff. Start by asking your employees what their health goals are or what things they would like to see change in the office. Once you have their input, you can start developing the program. Here are some common examples of health programs:

  • Smoker Cessation Programs

This type of program isn’t just for smokers. It can also prevent your employees from picking up smoking.

  • Disease Management

Chronic illness may be inevitable for some employees. Offer them services, training, and therapy to deal with chronic conditions they have, like diabetes and arthritis.

  • Weight Loss Programs

These programs focus on balancing exercise with nutrition to help employees achieve their weight loss goals.

As part of a comprehensive approach to employee wellness, occupational health helps employees achieve long-term, sustainable health.

Occupational Safety: Protecting Employees

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA oversees nearly every industry in the United States, including the construction and automotive industries. OSHA requires employers to create a safe workplace free of hazards. To do this, employers must follow the safety regulations set forth by OSHA. Failure to institute these guidelines and violations results in a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.

Even with these guidelines, work-related accidents and injuries still occur. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries occurred in 2022. Additionally, over 5,000 fatal work-related injuries occurred in the United States in 2022. Occupational safety initiatives and regulations seek to mitigate risks and hazards in the workplace, reducing the likelihood of employee injury or illness.

Occupational safety encompasses safety regulations and initiatives employers can use to go beyond what is legally required. This includes conducting hazard assessments, implementing safety procedures, and creating emergency protocols. Occupational safety is crucial for a variety of reasons. By identifying and mitigating potential hazards in the workplace, occupational safety measures reduce the likelihood of accidents, promoting the health and safety of employees. Engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and employee training all contribute to creating a safe workplace. Occupational safety initiatives can also lead to cost savings for employers. Initiatives like injury prevention programs have proven to reduce the number of work-related injuries, thus reducing costs associated with workers’ compensation, medical expenses, and productivity losses.

By following regulations and beyond, occupational safety allows employers to ensure their employees’ safety.

How Occupational Health and Safety Work Together

Although they are different, occupational health and safety work together to create a health and safety culture. Employers should prioritize the health and safety of employees. By investing in occupational health and safety, employers can holistically care for employee wellness, promoting their well-being in the workplace and beyond.

Employees who feel their health and safety are essential to their employer are more productive and motivated. Health and safety provisions also boost morale across the office. Improving the health and safety of your office will also lower both your healthcare costs and worker’s compensation costs, as employees are less likely to be injured on the job. 

Employers can contribute to a healthier, safer, and more productive workforce by utilizing both occupational health principles and occupational safety regulations.

How Can We Help?

Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. Our quality service is backed by years of experience working with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small governments, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions about how we can assist you!

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Work Health Solutions

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Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.