Occupational health refers to ensuring that workers are protected from workplace hazards. Safety regulations and policies prevent injuries, illnesses, and diseases. On the other hand, employee health refers to the state or condition of being healthy. Employee health is a broader term, which encompasses both mental and physical well-being. It also covers the prevention of disease and injury at work. The two concepts are closely related and often confused. Keep reading to learn more about their differences and how they work together!
What is Occupational Health?
Work-related injuries and illnesses affect more than three million people annually. The World Health Organization defines occupational health as “an area of work in public health to promote and maintain the highest degree of physical, mental, and social well-being of workers in all occupations.” This involves maintaining and promoting worker health, improving working conditions, and developing work cultures that value health and safety. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, sets regulations for employers to ensure their workplace is safe for workers. OSHA seeks to protect workers from potential workplace hazards and risks through hazard prevention, training, and safety awareness.
The primary purpose of occupational health is to prevent workplace injuries. With 2.7 million workplace injuries occurring in 2021, the physical cost to employees and the financial cost to employers is enormous. The most common work-related injuries are overexertion, contact with objects or equipment, and falls. Collectively, these injuries account for 84% of workplace injuries that occur in the United States.
What is Employee Health?
Employee health is the physical and mental state of employees. This broad term covers both physical health and mental well-being. Both of these aspects of health are important and should be equally valued by employers. Studies show that physical ailments can lead to mental health problems. Wellness and prevention are also part of employee health. Exercise, sleep habits, posture, and eating habits all contribute to employee health.
Poor employee health costs employers and employees thousands of dollars every year. From work-related stress to chronic diseases, like arthritis, healthcare costs for businesses are on the rise. It is more important than ever to figure out how to balance occupational health and employee health.
Why Should Employers Care?
Taking care of employee health and safety benefits both employers and employees. By reducing workers’ risk for accidents and injuries on the job, employers will experience reduced costs associated with accidents and injuries, including worker’s compensation, healthcare costs, and lost productivity. Employees are less likely to miss work due to illness or injury thus improving both efficiency and productivity. Employee morale will also improve with a safer work environment, which in turn reduces employee turnover costs for employers. Finally, employees and employers will experience lower health insurance premiums due to fewer workplace injuries. All in all, a focus on the well-being and health of employees is a good thing for both employers and employees.
How to Improve Occupational Health and Employee Health
Employers can work to improve the health and safety of their workforce through a variety of means. One way that employers can improve occupational health is through frequent and thorough safety training. OSHA requires employers to provide safety training in accessible language and vernacular. Employers should provide training to both new and experienced employees. This ensures that safety protocols are followed across the workplace.
A great way to improve employee health and occupational health is by creating a wellness program for your company. Wellness programs seek to prevent injuries and educate employees on health and wellness strategies. Wellness programs focus on improving employee health through exercise, ergonomics, and work-life balance. This can include swapping out office furniture for ergonomically correct furniture, weight-loss challenges, vaccination drives, and more!
Employee health and occupational health should be at the forefront of every employer’s mind and actions. Work Health Solutions offers a variety of services, including injury prevention and wellness programs, to help you improve your company’s occupational and employee health!
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!