What is an Occupational Physician?
Occupational medicine is a clinical specialty, and is the branch of medicine that is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health. They step back and assess the individual's environment, as well as how their overall health can affect their ability to work safely.
The work of an occupational physician can vary according to the hazards of a particular industry, and involves clinical medical activity and investigation of workplaces. They often work with multidisciplinary teams that include nurses, ergonomists, occupational hygienists, occupational health advisors, psychologists, psychiatrists, physiotherapists health, safety and environmental specialists, and therapists.
What does an Occupational Physician do?
It has been proven that being out of work can have significant negative effects on an individual's physical and mental health; getting back to work can improve self esteem and can aid in recovery and rehabilitation. Occupational ill health costs companies a staggering forty million working days every year - it is very easy to see how occupational medicine is important for the economy, for society and for individuals.
An occupational physician can help employers identify specific areas of risk for the health and safety of their workers. This in turn will help reduce injuries and illness in the workplace, as well as reduce the cost of insurance premiums for a company. If a worker does get injured, then the physician can advise on the best rehabilitative treatment, as well as assess them to determine if there are any ongoing risks for their health in the workplace. Occupational health services are also used to assist companies in managing short and long-term absence situations.
Occupational physicians evaluate the interaction between work and health. They are responsible for employee health and must:
- have knowledge of worksite operations
- promote health in the workplace and lifestyles
- help prevent work-related ill health & injuries
- improve attendance and performance of the workforce
- be familiar with toxic properties of materials
- be familiar with hazards and stressors of work processes
- determine an employee's physical and emotional abilities for work
- advise on fitness, workplace safety, prevention of occupational injuries, and disease
- diagnose and treat occupational diseases and handle injuries
- possess knowledge of rehabilitation methods
- provide rehabilitation to help individuals return to work
- recommend/implement policies to maintain a safe and healthy workplace
- give advice on alternative suitable work for people with health problems
- recommend adjustments in the workplace to help people stay at work
- have knowledge of workers' compensation laws; local, state, and federal
- be able to organize and manage the delivery of health services
- conduct research into work related health issues
- ensure compliance with health and safety regulations
- advise on medical health and ill-health retirement
What is the workplace of an Occupational Physician like?
Occupational physicians are employed in government agencies, industries, research and teaching, private clinics, or as consultants in the field of occupational health and safety.
Occupational Physicians are also known as:
Occupational Medicine Physician Preventive Medicine Physician Public Health Physician Occupational and Environmental Physician