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.
In the Convention the following definition was given:- "The term 'occupational health services' means services entrusted with essentially preventive functions and responsible for advising the employer, the workers and their representatives in the undertaking, on..
the requirements for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment which will facilitate optimal physical and mental health in relation to work the adaptation of work to the capabilities of workers in the light of their state of physical and mental health".
There are an extensive range of roles that can be associated with an Occupational Health, these being;:
- Identification and assessment of the risks from health hazards in the workplace. This involves surveillance of the factors in the working environment and working practices which may affect workers' health. It also requires a systematic approach to the analysis of occupational "accidents", and occupational diseases.
- Advising on planning and organisation of work and working practices, including the design of work-places, and on the evaluation, choice and maintenance of equipment and on substances used at work. In so doing, the adaptation of work to the worker is promoted.
- Providing advice, information, training and education, on occupational health, safety and hygiene and on ergonomics and protective equipment.
- Surveillance of workers' health in relation to work.
- Contributing to occupational rehabilitation and maintaining in employment people of working age, or assisting in the return to employment of those who are unemployed for reasons of ill health or disability.
- Organising first aid and emergency treatment.
- Develop and execute health and safety plans in the workplace according to legal guidelines
- Prepare and enforce policies to establish a culture of health and safety
- Evaluate practices, procedures and facilities to assess risk and adherence to the law
- Conduct training and presentations for health and safety matters and accident prevention
- Monitor compliance to policies and laws by inspecting employees and operations
- Inspect equipment and machinery to observe possible unsafe conditions
- Investigate accidents or incidents to discover causes and handle worker’s compensation claims
- Recommend solutions to issues, improvement opportunities or new prevention measures
- Report on health and safety awareness, issues and statistics
Environmental health and safety managers are also known as occupational health and safety specialists, corporate safety directors, environmental protection officers or safety consultants. They prevent and eliminate injury and illness to employees and assist companies to comply with safety laws. They inspect workplaces, and minimize or eliminate hazards from processes, such as incorrect working methods, and materials, such as potentially toxic chemicals.
Environmental health and safety managers inspect and evaluate the environment, equipment and processes in working areas to ensure compliance with government safety regulations and industry standards. Their chief goal is to protect the employees, customers and the environment. They identify potentially hazardous biological, chemical and radiological materials and collect samples of them for analysis. They recommend changes to protect workers, and educate employees on how to prevent health problems through the use of safety training programs. They also investigate accidents to identify their causes and find ways to prevent them in the future.