Occupational Medicine is that branch of medicine that focuses on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace, but also promotes health in all aspects of life: private and the work related ones.
“Occupational Health is the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations by preventing departures from health, controlling risks and the adaptation of work to people, and people to their jobs.” - (ILO / WHO 1950).
“Occupational Health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and has a strong focus on primary prevention of hazards”. (WHO)
The practice of having an occupational health policy ensures that workplaces and work practices are safe and not detrimental to employees’ health, and ensures that employees are fit for the job they are practicing. If there are difficulties, either with the workplace or with an employee’s medical fitness, the occupational medicine specialist’s role is to advise on adjustments of the workplace, and/or to give appropriate assistance and support to the employee and employer.
Occupational Health also plays a key role in providing impartial, evidence-based advice to the third parties, such as insurance and pension companies, about retirement on grounds of ill-health and related matters.
OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE SPECIALITY
There is an evident difference between the specialties in their perceptions on the general health of an organization’s workforce.
Occupational Medicine Specialists has an in-depth understanding of epidemiology, disease prevention and toxicology. They have the knowledge to identify, assess the risk to health and know how to control workplace hazards and also know how to recognize, prevent and manage occupational diseases. They also advise management on these risks and on their implications for employees’ health and for business continuity.
In assessing the medical fitness for work, the Occupational Medicines Specialists understands not only the health of the employee but also the workplace background, taking into account not only the psychological and physical status of the workforce, but also the environment, and any implications it may have for the employee’s health.