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Healthy workplaces should integrate occupational health with public health: report

Public health

Central to this approach is the idea that work is a critical determinant of health and human development throughout a person’s life

Leading experts in occupational health research have issued a set of recommendations aimed at safeguarding worker health and reducing health inequalities exacerbated by workplace conditions, a latest Lancet report said. The recommendations come in the face of emerging threats to worker health, such as those brought about by changing work environments and exposures over the last 25 years.

The report makes following recommendations 

Integrating Occupational Health with Public Health

One of the key recommendations is the integration of the training of occupational health professionals and researchers with the core disciplines of public health. This integration is seen as crucial for addressing the complex, transdisciplinary challenges that arise in today’s rapidly changing work environments, where the social determinants of health play a significant role.

“There is also an urgent need for a better integration of occupational health within public health, medicine, the life sciences, and the social sciences, with the work environment explicitly conceptualized as a major social determinant of health,” the report states.

Designing and Evaluating Workplace Interventions

The experts emphasize the importance of designing and evaluating workplace interventions that focus on mitigating the emerging threats to worker health and well-being. They call for close collaboration between research funders, researchers, employers, worker organizations, regulators, and insurers to develop strategies specifically designed to be implemented in the real world.

“Work is an important social determinant of health in high-income countries. Measures to reduce health disparities need to include, to a substantial extent, measures to improve working conditions,” says the report.

Reviving the Concept of Healthy Work

Researchers and funding agencies are urged to prioritize creative methodological approaches to designing and evaluating workplace interventions. Central to this approach is the idea that work is a critical determinant of health and human development throughout a person’s life.

Piloting and Evaluating New Working Practices

To ensure that new working practices do not harm worker health or exacerbate social inequalities, the experts propose the routine pilot testing and rigorous evaluation of these practices before widespread adoption. This aligns with the principles of evidence-based policy making.

The experts also urge policymakers, employer organizations, unions, and public health professionals to prioritize the regulation and improvement of working conditions as a means to reduce health disparities and improve overall population health.

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