Occupational health

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Occupational health is the field of healthcare concerned with enabling an individual to undertake their occupation, in the way that causes least harm to their health. It contrasts, for example, with health and safety at work, which is concerned with preventing the individual from coming to harm from any incidental hazards arising in the workplace.

For example, repetitive strain injury and back pain, are common occupational health risks, for most work in an office environment, but crushing an arm, as a result of a collapsed shelving unit, is a health and safety matter instead.

While specialists in the field of health and safety at work are often inspectors, engineers, administrators, and regulators, those in the field of occupational health are typically doctors or other medically skilled individuals. They advise on things such as how to avoid particular pre-existing medical conditions causing a problem in the occupation, correct posture for the work, frequency of rest breaks, preventitive action that can be undertaken, and so forth.

For the UK, the government organisation dealing with occupational health is the Employment Medical Advisory Service.

A new occupational health organisation - the Health and Work Service - was created by the Coalition government in 2014, in the UK, to provide advice and assistance to employers in order to get people back to work, who have been on sick-leave for long periods of time.[1] The service, funded by government, will offer medical assessments and treatment plans, on a voluntary basis, to people on long term absence from their employer; in return, the government will no longer foot the bill for Statutory Sick Pay provided by the employer to the individual.

In some countries, occupational health is administered by the same organisation as health and safety at work, and therefore is sometimes treated by those countries as a single field.


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