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What Is Occupational Medicine?

Almost 40 hours of the average person’s week are spent at work, and that amount of time at one job can impact health significantly. Injuries and illness can affect a worker’s ability to perform at their best and can cost companies significant sums in compensation and lost workdays. That’s where occupational health programs come in. These are healthcare programs that treat employees for illnesses and injuries they’ve sustained at the workplace as well as work to help prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

Known as Occupational Medicine or om, the field focuses on the relationship between work and health and aims to keep workers healthy and safe by creating safer workplaces. Occupational medicine physicians visit workplaces and assess employees on a wide variety of work-related health issues. Their duties also include advising employers and staff on how to make workplaces more safe.

Workplace injury is a major issue in today’s society and can affect an employee’s life outside of work. Injuries and illnesses that occur at the workplace are often very serious and can result in loss of function or even a lifetime disability. These incidents can be costly to both the injured worker and the employer, ranging from medical treatment to retraining. This is where a skilled occupational health physician can help to reduce these costs by working closely with both the injured worker and their employer.

For the injured worker, a good occupational medicine program can help them recover so they can return to work as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to their lives. This is achieved through comprehensive treatment plans including therapy, retraining and rehabilitation. For the company, a strong occupational medical program can cut insurance costs and lower workers’ compensation expenses by reducing the number of days an injured worker is absent from the job.

The most rewarding part of a career in occupational medicine is getting to know your patients and helping them to return to their normal lives and their work. The most challenging is seeing patients that haven’t responded to treatment and trying to figure out why.

A doctor specializing in occupational medicine is well versed in the regulations set by agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Transportation, as well as the proper procedures for reporting incidents. This expertise makes them an invaluable asset to both the injured worker and their employer.

In addition to treating injuries and illnesses at the workplace, an occupational health program can include employee assessments such as fit-for-duty testing. This is a way of ensuring that a potential new hire has the physical capacity to handle the responsibilities of their job or determine whether they need additional training to do so. This can ultimately save the company money by preventing costly errors such as a worker leaving work due to an undiagnosed condition or a wrongful termination lawsuit for failing to meet their employment obligations.


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