Eduardo Medeiros Cardoso
CEO & Co-Founder


Expert Contributor

The Importance of Occupational Health in the Health System

By Eduardo Medeiros Cardoso | Mon, 07/25/2022 - 17:00

Ensuring the health of employees is a major challenge for companies. In this sense, occupational health practices are extremely important. In addition to dealing with the handling of occupational examinations, such as admission and dismissal, occupational health has to do with employee safety.

Thanks to the right actions, it is possible to guarantee better working conditions, reduce the risk of accidents and avoid diseases related to the job or the work environment.

To achieve all these results, it is necessary to understand in depth what occupational health is, its importance beyond the mandatory issues as well as how to enhance the results by integrating it with care practices.

Understanding Occupational Health

We can define occupational health as the set of rules and procedures to minimize, eliminate and neutralize the risks arising from work activities.

It is supervised through mandatory programs by law, such as the Environmental Risk Prevention Program and the Occupational Health Medical Control Program, in addition to the requirements detailed in the 36 Regulatory Norms.

These actions are supervised by the Labor Department and aim to ensure that private and public organizations and government agencies adopt safety and medical measures for their workers.

Unlike occupational health, which focuses on risks arising from work-related activities, healthcare seeks to promote health in all spheres, implementing care for disease prevention and a better quality of life for employees.

The integration of healthcare and occupational health practices is the key to effective results in organizations: healthier and more engaged employees and greater productivity, in addition to compliance with legislation.


Why Invest in Occupational Health Practices?

As we have seen, the company has full responsibility for the health and safety of its employees. According to the report, Safety and Health at the Heart of the Future of Work, around 6,500 deaths worldwide occur every day as a result of occupational diseases, in addition to 1,000 due to occupational accidents.

In 2019, Mexico had 4 million working days lost due to wrist, ankle and back injuries, which represented a financial loss in productivity of 3.7 percent of GDP.

There is still much to be done within companies. According to data from the IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute) in 2021, more than 400,000 work accidents and more than 8,000 occupational diseases were recorded.

With that in mind, I have listed some reasons why every company can invest in occupational health practices, regardless of size or the segment in which it operates.


Prevent Occupational Diseases and Accidents at Work

The main objective of occupational health is to reduce work-related illnesses and accidents. By instituting programs in this sense, companies provide a safer and more comfortable environment, favoring the performance of employees and avoiding absences.

According to IMSS studies, the occupational diseases that most incapacitate Mexican workers are external causes (about 30 percent), musculoskeletal disorders (about 25 percent) and mental disorders (about 10 percent).

Also according to the institution, it is necessary to consider that these data are based on the registration of Social Security absences; that is, they do not apply to informal workers. As a result, the numbers could be even higher.

Other examples of common occupational illnesses are:

  • Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI);
  • Loss of vision from exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents;
  • Loss of hearing;
  • Respiratory diseases, such as asthma and accumulation of silica in the lungs due to inhalation of allergenic or irritating elements.

In addition to the direct impact on workers, illnesses and accidents also bring financial damage to the company. The greater the number of work accidents, the greater the company's social security accident factor, increasing its Social Insurance rate, which impacts the final amount of payroll expenses.

Avoid Fines and Labor Impasses

As we have already explained, occupational health practices are mandatory by law. With the implementation of the ELSSA Seal, it became even more difficult to fail to comply with occupational health and safety obligations, as deadlines and inspections will become even more stringent.

In this sense, the main fines imposed on companies are related to the following factors:

  • Noncompliance with Regulatory Norms;
  • Failure to send the Work Accident Report;
  • Delays or failure to perform medical examinations, as detailed in the Occupational Health Medical Control Program;
  • Failure to provide protective and training equipment.

Failure to comply with the requirements listed above can create serious impasses for the company. If it is proven that an employee has suffered an accident at work or developed some occupational disease, for example, the company may have to respond in the civil and criminal spheres.

Understand the risks to which employees are exposed.
Promote adequate training to perform the function safely.
Encourage a good organizational climate.

Health Diagnosis

The performance of occupational medical examinations is provided by law to ensure the monitoring of the worker's health. However, it is not always possible to cover all the base indicators and identify the health profile of employees.

Therefore, it is essential that the company is concerned with carrying out complementary exams to the occupational exams, for an uncomplicated identification of the company's profile and definition of the best strategies to be adopted.

It is a way to expand healthcare and show employees its importance.

Occupational health practices are mandatory, as provided in the legislation, but the organization can go further and associate it with care practices. By adopting this strategy, the impact is direct on the health, safety and comfort of the employee, reducing absences and increasing productivity.