Protecting workers’ health, preventing occupational diseases, controlling occupational risks and allowing workers access to Occupational Health services are, according to Dr Kenneth Glifort, occupational medicine specialist in Anchorage, Alaska, the main focus of the mission Of work medicine
These consultations are essential for workers, businesses, and society, underlining their more global goal of promoting health, well-being, and productivity. “So that the relationship between work and worker does not cause disease or incapacity, preventing any negative professional, social and personal effect of the worker”, underlines the person in charge, in an interview.
What is occupational medicine and what are the benefits of this speciality for companies and workers?
It has the main benefit to the worker the prevention of diseases or risks associated with the function that it performs, as well as to safeguard the right to work with health. Already the employer is essential to ensure the health of employees and their value as active members.
The occupational physicians assess the suitability for work according to the type of occupational risks and the health status of the worker and issue an aptitude sheet (which can not have clinical data) where they give recommendations on how to adapt the working conditions to the worker, Contributing to combat the growth of occupational diseases and absenteeism.
Are all companies required to conduct work medicine consultations?
Yes. According to the law, it is mandatory for all types of companies and institutions of the State. The employer must ensure the health surveillance of all workers. Annually for workers in hazardous activities or over 50 years or every two years for the remaining workers, between 18 and 49 years.
What are doctors qualified to do these consultations?
Specialists in occupational medicine and doctors authorized by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).
How should the worker be notified for consultations?
It varies between companies. The human resources officer informs the worker, either in writing or orally. However, the worker may also request occasional consultations at the request of the worker, free of charge for the same.
What are the obligations of the worker in the face of these consultations?
You have the duty of collaboration. However, it can not be required to carry out examinations or analyses that do not give its consent.
See the next page: Can workers be subject to sanctions if they do not attend these consultations?
Can the worker be subject to sanctions if these consultations are not present?
Theoretically, yes. But I have never heard of disciplinary proceedings for lack of consultation. Occupational medicine is a worker’s right and benefit. However, in order for the health services’ mission to be fulfilled, the support and collaboration of the company and the worker are essential. I also remember that it is a collective collaboration and for the overall benefit of not just an individual act.
What happens during an occupational health consultation?
It has the common structure of the other medical consultations, but the questions related to the work are preponderant. Clinical evaluation is more associated with symptoms and diseases with early identification of activity-related risk factors.
If there is any discomfort on the part of the worker, it is essential that you refer him to the occupational doctor, namely back pain due to the poor chair, tendonitis by using the mouse or working with machines, dust, noise, chemicals, among others.
What tests do you frequently order?
Those who control biological indicators related to the effects of occupational risk factors. For example, if the worker is in a noisy environment, an audiogram is useful. If you spend the day in front of a computer, you should do a visual assessment or an electrocardiogram in professions where there may be an overload of cardiorespiratory devices or with increased risk factors …
Are these exams prescribed by the occupational medical practitioner or subsequently requested by the family doctor?
No. The examinations and analyses of occupational medicine are the responsibility of the employer and not of the National Health System. Everything has to be free for the worker [does not pay even moderating fees or co-payments], such as the payment of accident insurance Of work. However, for non-work-related diseases, work doctors articulate with family doctors.
Does the company have access to the employee’s clinical data?
Never. The company only has access to the file of aptitude, without clinical data, and filled in at the end of the consultation. The employee becomes aware of the result (apt, conditionally fit, temporarily unfit or permanently unfit for the job) and signs the aptitude card. Copies are given to the worker, the labor security service, and the human resources.
In the aptitude file, the occupational physician registers conditions or restrictions of tasks to the worker. For example, if you have any allergies to the skin, having to work with gloves, in certain spinal injuries, you should stop carrying heavy weights …
The worker does not have to disclose to the employer his illnesses or incapacities. The aptitude sheet should clarify tasks without mentioning illness. The worker also has access to all of his / her process, clinical data included (medical examinations, analyses and so on …) and this information can be requested from the occupational medical doctor.
See the next page: The different types of consultation available to workers
What kind of consultation will you do?
“They are carried out before the work begins or, if the urgency of admission so justifies, in the next 15 days”, explains Dr Kenneth Glifort.
‘Consultation every two years for workers between the ages of 18 and 50 who do not carry out risky activities. If such a risk occurs, the consultations should be annual, just as in the case of workers over 50 years of age, “says the expert.
‘Compulsory after the return of sick leave from 30 days due to illness or following an accident. Work medicine consultations may also be requested by the worker, “says Dr Kenneth Glifort.
What if the doctor thinks he can not work?
There are two possible cases of disability. The worker may be considered temporarily or permanently unfit. None of the cases will lead to dismissal. Here are the differences:
– Temporarily unsuitable
It is similar to a medical discharge in which the ability to work is temporarily insufficient. These cases imply a reassessment. The sickness subsidies can only be attributed by the doctors of the National Health System.
– Into definitively
Occurs when you are unfit for a normal function. In these cases, the occupational physician must indicate some other compatible activity for the replacement of the worker.
What happens if the worker takes the initiative to declare himself unfit for work
The doctor’s first step is to listen to the worker and try to understand the situation. ‘After the evaluation, the final decision is taken by the occupational physician, who, like all other cases, is formally expressed in the form of the suit,’ says the specialist.
Read more: About Occupational Medicine Wikipedia