Employers have a legal and ethical obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Occupational health is the scientific field that deals with the promotion and maintenance of workers’ health and safety. The primary aim of occupational health is to prevent injuries and illnesses from occurring in the workplace. By implementing effective occupational health programs, employers can protect their workers from harm and help them stay healthy and productive.
The Primary Aim of Occupational Health
After the Civil War, the industrial revolution began and many factories opened and employed young workers. The workplace at this time was full of safety risks and hazards. The Massachusetts Bureau of Labor report from 1872 highlighted many incidents involving lost limbs or death from poorly designed equipment. Factories were dirty and had poor ventilation, which caused many illnesses and even deaths. In 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded to oversee and ensure workers’ safe working conditions. The focus of occupational health used to be on those who did manual labor, like construction workers, but in recent times, it has been expanded to include all workers in every industry.
According to the World Health Organization, occupational health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and focuses on preventing hazards. The penultimate goal of occupational health is to prevent workplace-related illnesses and injuries through various actions and preventative measures. This includes encouraging safety in the workplace through safe work practices, monitoring the overall health of the workplace, and providing ongoing mental and physical health support. Occupational health helps employees to bring their health concerns regarding the workplace to the attention of their employer. The employer and employee can then work together to reduce health risks and stay compliant with evolving OSHA regulations.
Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
The risk for injuries and illnesses in a workplace without a focus on occupational health is high. Injuries occur on the job every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, there were 2.7 nonfatal work-related injuries per 100 full-time workers in the United States. The most common injuries are sprains, strains, and tears. Overexertion, by lifting or lowering items in a repetitive motion, is the cause of over 30% of workplace injuries. Companies need to institute safeguards and safety regulations to reduce the risk of injury in the workplace.
Workplace injuries and illnesses are very common and also very expensive. For an injury like a strain or sprain, the employer can be responsible for paying nearly $65,000 in direct and indirect costs. Occupational health focuses on reducing employees’ risk for injuries, thus reducing the employer’s associated worker’s compensation costs.
Benefits of Occupational Health
Occupational health reduces the number of workplace illnesses and injuries. This helps to reduce expenses due to worker’s compensation and sick days. It also boosts safety in the workplace by creating preventative measures that ensure workers can go about their daily work in a safe environment. An important component of occupational health is prevention. Prevention programs are designed to minimize the risk of health issues and prevent employees from getting sick or injured on the job. Occupational health can also boost productivity by reducing the number of work days missed due to injury or illness and improving employee morale.
Occupational Health in Your Workplace
Employers can work with an Occupational Health Provider, like Work Health Solutions, to prevent health-related risks and challenges in the workplace and also keep employees healthy by treating any existing health issues. There are a variety of services that occupational health providers can use to set their employees up for success. Here are some ways to implement occupational health in your workplace:
- On-site health clinics
- Educational programs to improve medical literary
- Regular health screenings or preventative exams
- Vaccination clinics
- Mental health support
- Telehealth offerings
- Pre-placement physical exams
- Absence and disability management
- DOT physicals and more!
There are so many ways to institute occupational health in your workplace and make employee health a priority. Reach out to an Occupational Health Provider today and make your workplace a safer place!
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 you may have about how we can assist you!