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Trends in Occupational Health in Latin America

By Eduardo Medeiros Cardoso - Welbe
CEO & Co-Founder


By Eduardo Medeiros Cardoso | Chief Digital Officer - LATAM - Wed, 03/15/2023 - 10:00

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Trends in occupational health in Latin America this year will be shaped by a number of factors, including technological advances, changes in labor laws and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key developments we can expect to see include:

1. Increased emphasis on mental health: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a special emphasis on the importance of mental health in the workplace. Therefore, companies are likely to adopt programs that help their employees deal with stress and anxiety, in addition to providing support for cases of more serious mental illnesses.

2. Increased remote work: Remote work has become much more common during the pandemic and many companies are predicting that this trend will continue into 2023. This will require companies to adapt their occupational health policies to ensure their remote workers receive the same level of care and support as those who work at your facility.

3. Adoption of digital technologies: Technology will play an increasingly important role in occupational health in 2023. Companies are likely to adopt apps and other digital technologies to monitor their employees' health, track exposure to harmful chemicals, and identify occupational health risks.

4. Focus on prevention: Prevention will remain a crucial element of occupational health in 2023. Companies are likely to take steps to reduce the risk of occupational injury and illness, including training and awareness programs, as well as the implementation of workplace safety measures.

5. Stricter regulations: It is expected that there will be greater regulation of occupational health practices in several Latin American countries in 2023. This will include stricter regulations for chemicals and other hazardous substances as well as stricter safety guidelines in the workplace. 

Occupational health in Mexico is an important and constantly evolving topic. In recent years, several trends have been identified in this field that are transforming the way in which safety and health are approached in work in the country.

In a survey carried out on preventive health with data from the company Welbe Care with more than 8,000 employees during 2022, it was identified that 35% of women over 40 years old had not carried out their preventive female checkup in the last three years and more than 78% of men over 45 have never had their prostate antigen study. All these employees have access to social security, but they do not use it because of the long waiting time.

Within this research it was also found that when healthy employees are covered by a preventive health program, women use the program three times more than men, remain healthier and improve their results. For the cases of employees with a chronic illness, it was noted that before the program, more than 13% did not know that they suffered from a chronic illness and the base was divided between controlled chronic and uncontrolled chronic. For those controlled during one year of monitoring, their indicator of absences from work was practically nil, compared to the uncontrolled segment who take a rate of four to 10 days of annual absence.

One of the most important trends is the growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace. In the past, occupational health focused mainly on the prevention of injuries and physical illnesses related to work. However, more and more companies are starting to understand that the mental health of employees is equally important and that it can have a significant impact on productivity, job satisfaction and employee retention.

To address this trend, many companies are implementing mental health and wellness programs that include stress management training, meditation and mindfulness activities, and psychological support for employees in need. In addition, working conditions that can contribute to stress, such as work overload, lack of autonomy and workplace bullying, are also being addressed.

Another important trend is the increasing demand for safety and security in the workplace. This is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought to the fore the need for proper health and safety measures in the workplace to protect employees and prevent the spread of the virus. However, this trend also extends beyond the pandemic and is related to a growing awareness of occupational risks in general.

To address this trend, many companies are adopting more rigorous safety measures, such as the use of technology and training programs to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. They are also focusing on employee training on occupational hazards and the importance of following safety policies and procedures.

Another important trend is the adoption of digital technologies and tools in occupational health management. Technology can play a key role in improving occupational health and safety by enabling real-time data collection and analysis. This can help identify occupational health risks and problems before they become major problems.

To address this trend, many companies are investing in technological solutions for occupational health management, such as:

1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: AI and machine learning will be used to help physicians make more accurate and informed decisions. Analysis of large data sets, such as electronic medical records, will help identify patterns and trends that can help prevent early diagnosis and development of personalized treatment plans.

2. Telemedicine: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedicine and the trend should continue in 2023. Virtual consultations with doctors and nurses, remote follow-up of patients and monitoring of chronic conditions will be increasingly common.

3. Virtual and augmented reality: VR and AR are being used to simulate procedures and train employees. In 2023, we will see the increasing use of VR and AR technology for the treatment of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

4. Wearable devices: Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and accurate. In 2023, we will see an increase in the use of these devices in the monitoring of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as in the early detection of diseases.

5. Blockchain: Blockchain technology can be used to store patient data in a safe and reliable way. In 2023, we will see more cooperation between insurance companies, companies, hospitals and clinics adopting blockchain technology to keep electronic medical records secure and accessible.

Those are just a few of the technology trends in healthcare that we will likely see this year. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect new innovations to emerge and change the way healthcare is managed and treated.

In summary, occupational health in Latin America in 2023 will be characterized by a greater emphasis on mental health, adoption of digital technologies, increase in remote work, prevention of occupational injuries and injuries, and greater regulation to guarantee the safety of workers.

Photo by:   Eduardo Medeiros

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