Creating a Future for Occupational Health

Economic, social, technical, and political drivers are fundamentally changing
the nature of work and work environments, with profound implications for the
field of occupational health. Nevertheless, researchers and practitioners
entering the field are largely being trained to assess and control exposures
using approaches developed under old models of work and risks.

In an article published in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health (formerly
The Annals of Occupational Hygiene) important cross-cutting themes are
characterized and discussed to highlight important future directions of
occupational health. Changes in work organization and the resulting insecurity
and precarious employment arrangements change the nature of risk to a large
fraction of the workforce. Workforce demographics are changing, and economic
disparities among working groups are growing. Globalization exacerbates the
‘race to the bottom' for cheap labor, poor regulatory oversight, and limited
labor rights. Largely, as a result of these phenomena, the historical
distinction between work and non-work exposures has become largely artificial
and less useful in understanding risks and developing effective public health
intervention models. Additional changes related to climate change, governmental
and regulatory limitations, and inadequate surveillance systems challenge and
frustrate occupational health progress, while new biomedical and information technologies expand the
opportunities for understanding and intervening to improve worker health.

The authors suggest that occupational health training, professional practice,
and research evolve towards a more holistic, public health-oriented model of
worker health. This will require engagement with a wide network of
stakeholders. Research and training portfolios need to be broadened to better
align with the current realities of work and health and to prepare
practitioners for the changing array of occupational health challenges.

More info

AplusA-online.de - Source: Annals of Work Exposures and Health