Workplace Health Management

Workplace Health Management (WHM). There are four components to workplace health management.

  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Workplace Health Promotion
  • Health determinants such as lifestyle and social status
  • Environmental Health Management

In the past, policy was often driven by compliance with legislation. The new approach to workplace management of health management is based on both legislative requirements as well as health targets that are set by each industry’s working community. Effective Workplace Health Management must be based on the knowledge, experience, and practice gained in three disciplines: workplace health promotion, occupational health, and environmental health. WHM should be seen as not only a means of continuous improvement and community health, but also as a framework for collaboration between different agencies. It provides a platform for cooperation between local authorities and business leaders in the development of communities through improved public and environmental health.

A Healthy Workplace Setting – A cornerstone of the Community Action Plan

WHP is defined in the Luxembourg Declaration of European Union Network for Workplace Health Promotion as the collective effort of employers and employees to improve the health, well-being and productivity of workers

You can achieve this by combining:

  • Improvement of the work environment and organization
  • Encourage employees to be active participants in health activities
  • Encouraging personal development

The EU network Luxembourg Declaration describes workplace health promotion as a modern corporate strategy that aims to prevent ill-health and promote health and well-being. Workplace programs have been shown to reduce absenteism, lower cardiovascular risk, reduced claims for health care, decreased staff turnover and decreased musculoskeletal injury. They also offer the possibility of increased productivity and a return on investment.

 

Many of these improvements are possible only if employees, employers, and the society involved in the activities necessary to make a difference. Empowering employees allows them to take control of their health. Occupational Health Advisors are well-equipped to conduct needs assessments for health promotion initiatives with their working populations, to prioritize them alongside other occupational safety and health initiatives, and coordinate activities at the enterprise level so that the planned initiatives are implemented. For many years, occupational health services were involved in the assessment and evaluation of fitness for work as well as the assessment of levels of disability for insurance purposes.

Some occupational health services have developed the concept of maintaining work ability in otherwise healthy workers. These efforts were made in some cases to address the increasing challenges posed by an aging workforce and rising costs of social security. OHA’s are often at the forefront these developments.

It is important to increase the emphasis of occupational health services in order to promote workability and prevent non-occupational workplace avoidable conditions. Some occupational health services will need to be more proactive in workplace health promotion without decreasing the focus on occupational diseases and accidents. OHA’s are able to plan, deliver, and evaluate workplace health promotion and maintenance programs.

Employers and employees have recognized the benefits of health promotion at work over the past decade. Workers spend approximately half of their day working. This provides the perfect opportunity for employees and employers to exchange health messages and create healthy work environments. Each group’s needs will determine the scope of health promotion.

Smoking cessation, healthy nutrition, and physical exercise are some of the most popular health promotion activities.

If employees feel that these factors are essential for their well-being, health, and quality of living, then health promotion can also be directed at other social, cultural, and environmental health determinants. This could include improving the work environment, motivation, stress reduction, burnout reduction, flexible working hours, career development plans, and career enhancement. These factors can all contribute to the overall health and well being of the community.

A Healthy Community Setting This is the company’s potential impact on the environment and the effects of its products or services on other environments. Think about how much the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident in 1986 had an impact on entire countries.

Although environmental health impacts of companies are controlled by different legislation than those that apply to Health and Safety at Work, there is a strong link between protecting the working environment, improving the work organization and culture, and the company’s approach to environmental management.

Leading companies combine occupational safety and environmental management to maximize the use of human resources and avoid duplication. Even in companies that don’t have environmental health specialists, occupational health nurses can contribute to environmental management.

About the Author: Will Myers