Health promotion and prevention in occupational health systems in Europe
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Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Department of Occupational Diseases and Environmental Health)
Objectives: In the contemporary Western culture, working population health issues, stressed in various publications, have been perceived as a crucial part of public health. To deal with occupational health issues properly, occupational health services (OHS), aiming at the protection of the workers’ health, are organized in many countries. The survey was to find the differences in occupational health systems that the European Economic Area countries use in order to execute prophylactic activities focused on diseases of affluence and how the OHS are used for health promotion actions. Material and Methods: The survey was conducted with the use of an on-line expert questionnaire. No deep statistical analysis was performed as for the designed aims of the study simple statistics were sufficient. Results: All the reviewed countries have organized OHS. The funding mechanisms are based mainly on the financial involvement of employers. In the majority of countries, the main goal of the OHS is certification of the ability to work. Workplace surveillance aiming at the occupational risk assessment and health promotion activities that focus on work-related and/or occupational diseases are the most popular services provided within national systems. Conclusions: Occupational health professionals are well placed to perform actions directed at health promotion and prophylactics of a wide range of diseases – not only occupational/work-related, but also non-communicable, particularly life-style-related diseases of affluence. The engagement of the occupational medical services (OMS) in prevention of the non-work-related health issues would be valuable. However, it would be inevitable for employers to finance a wider range of services to a greater extent.
Andrzej Marcinkiewicz   
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Occupational Diseases and Environmental Health, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland