A systematic approach to health surveillance in the workplace.
ABSTRACT This paper reviews the range of health surveillance activities which can be utilized in the workplace by occupational health professionals for assessing fitness for work and contributing to the prevention of occupational illness and promotion of good health. The systematic approach described categorizes health surveillance procedures into occupational or non-occupational, risk-based or unfocused, and as primary, secondary or tertiary preventive measures. All categories of health surveillance are currently being practised to some extent, but the type of surveillance may not match the needs of the workplace in some situation. In order to aid health professionals in deciding which procedures should be implemented, recommendations based on an assessment of health risks are made. The key proposal is to establish a minimum level of periodic health surveillance for all workers based on a targeted lifestyle health risk assessment and a structured health questionnaire. Additional procedures can then be added sequentially as appropriate to manage any health risks in the workplace. The role of the unfocused periodic general medical examination is discussed in the context of the systematic approach and allows occupational professionals to critically appraise its usefulness.
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ABSTRACT: Quality-of-work-life (QWL) includes broad aspects of the work environment that affect employee learning and health. Canadian health care organizations (HCOs) are being encouraged to monitor QWL, expanding existing occupational health surveillance capacities. To investigate the understanding, collection, diffusion and use of QWL indicators in Canadian HCOs. We obtained cooperation from six diverse public HCOs managing 41 sites. We reviewed documentation relevant to QWL and conducted 58 focus groups/team interviews with strategic, support and programme teams. Group interviews were taped, reviewed and analysed for themes using qualitative data techniques. Indicators were classified by purpose and HCO level. QWL indicators, as such, were relatively new to most HCOs yet the data managed by human resource and occupational health and safety support teams were highly relevant to monitoring of employee well-being (119 of 209 mentioned indicators), e.g. sickness absence. Monitoring of working conditions (62/209) was also important, e.g. indicators of employee workload. Uncommon were indicators of biomechanical and psychosocial hazards at work, despite their being important causes of morbidity among HCO employees. Although imprecision in the definition of QWL indicators, limited links with other HCO performance measures and inadequate HCO resources for implementation were common, most HCOs cited ways in which QWL indicators had influenced planning and evaluation of prevention efforts. Increase in targeted HCO resources, inclusion of other QWL indicators and greater integration with HCO management systems could all improve HCO decision-makers' access to information relevant to employee health.Occupational Medicine 02/2005; 55(1):54-9. · 1.45 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background. Work-related stress is a major problem for mental health. The occupational physician has the opportunity to gather information on the perception of stress from workers in the course of regular medical examinations. Method. 1,231 subjects, engaged in 6 different occupations, were invited to compile the Demand/Control/Support and the Effort/Reward/Imbalance questionnaires. Results. A specific profile of work-related stress emerged for each group of workers. Radiology physicians reported high control over work, but also exceedingly high demand and effort, high overcommitment, low social support, and low rewards from work. Health care workers were often overcommitted but had high levels of reward and social support. Low levels of social support and reward were recorded for mature workers, while special force policemen engaged in law enforcement during the G8 meeting had high levels of social support and regards, so that their resulting stress levels were closer to the reference group of employees in an insurance company with no front-office. Conclusion. The practice of administering questionnaires to groups of workers who are subject to medical surveillance is useful for monitoring mental health and well-being.Psychiatry journal. 01/2013; 2013:701872.