The global burden of Occupational Health (OH) issues is considerable. Fatal and non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses worldwide equate to a cost of approximately €2680 billion, equivalent to 4% of the global GDP or the entire GDP of Great Britain.[i] Consequently, organisations, their workforce, and society have to bear a substantial cost.

The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the International SOS Foundation and KU Leuven University have recently launched “Occupational Health: the Global Value and Evidence”. This new whitepaper discusses the value of Occupational Health (OH) from a global perspective and provides a synthesis of global evidence on the effectiveness of OH interventions and cost effectiveness.

Work related health issues are far reaching, through the impact on organisations, employees and their families and on the wider community and ultimately the economy. Effects are across industries and ailments, from the impacts of a bad flu season[ii] to accidents and injuries. Many of these issues are preventable or at least can be reduced, hence the enormous potential of Occupational Health programmes. This report provides comprehensive evidence of significant positive health related impact and return on investment of successful Occupational Health interventions.

The paper demonstrates that Occupational Health services have a clear value: they improve the health of the working population; contribute to the prevention of work-related illnesses; prevent avoidable sickness absence through the provision of early interventions for those who develop a health condition; and increase the efficiency and productivity of organisations. They can also play a major part in protecting and revitalising the global economy

Specifically first, the benefits of investing in OH are improvements in employee health, reductions in absenteeism, presenteeism and healthcare costs, and in improvements in reputation. The overall health-related impact and return-on-investment of well-designed OH programmes is positive for a wide variety of interventions in different countries”, the report argued. There is also strong moral rationale for investing in OH.

Finally, there is an opportunity by taking occupational health beyond minimum national legal requirements, and offering guidance to others to expand the value of occupational health to these dimensions in the future,” the report pointed out.

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