Promoting prevention with economic arguments - the case of Finnish occupational health services.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Both social and ethical arguments have been used to support preventive occupational health services (OHS). During the 1990s it became more common to support political argumentation for occupational health and safety by converting the consequences of ill health at work into monetary units. In addition, OHS has been promoted as a profitable investment for companies, and this aspect has been used by OHS providers in their marketing. Our intention was to study whether preventive occupational health services positively influence a company's economic performance. METHODS: We combined the financial statements provided by Statistics Finland and employers' reimbursement applications for occupational health services (OHS) costs to the Social Insurance Institution. The data covered the years 1997, 1999 and 2001 and over 6000 companies. We applied linear regression analysis to assess whether preventive OHS had a positive influence on the companies' economic performance after two or four years. RESULTS: Resources invested in preventive OHS were not positively related to a company's economic performance. In fact, the total cost of preventive OHS per turnover was negatively correlated to economic performance. CONCLUSION: Even if OHS has no effect on the economic performance of companies, it may have other effects more specific to OHS. Therefore, we recommend that the evaluation of prevention in OHS should move towards outcome measures, such as sickness absence, disability pension and productivity, when applicable, both in occupational health service research and in practice at workplaces.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In Finland like in many other countries, employers are legally obliged to organize occupational health services (OHS) for their employees. Because employers bear the costs of OHS it could be that in spite of the legal requirement OHS expenditure is more determined by economic performance of the company than by law. Therefore, we explored whether economic performance was associated with the companies' expenditure on occupational health services. METHODS: We used a prospective design to predict expenditure on OHS in 2001 by a company's economic performance in 1999. Data were provided by Statistics Finland and expressed by key indicators for profitability, solidity and liquidity and by the Social Insurance Institution as employers' reimbursement applications for OHS costs. The data could be linked at the company level. Regression analysis was used to study associations adjusted for various confounders. RESULTS: Nineteen percent of the companies (N = 6 155) did not apply for reimbursement of OHS costs in 2001. The profitability of the company represented by operating margin in 1999 and adjusted for type of industry was not significantly related to the company's probability to apply for reimbursement of the costs in 2001 (OR = 1.00, 95%CI: 0.99 to 1.01). Profitability measured as operating profit in 1999 and adjusted for type of industry was not significantly related to costs for curative medical services (Beta -0.001, 95%CI: -0.00 to 0.11) nor to OHS cost of prevention in 2001 (Beta -0.001, 95%CI: -0.00 to 0.00). CONCLUSION: We did not find a relation between the company's economic performance and expenditure on OHS in Finland. We suppose that this is due to legislation obliging employers to provide OHS and the reimbursement system both being strong incentives for employers.
Project description:A healthy workforce is vital for the sustainable social and economic development of any country. Assuring occupational health and safety (OHS) depends not only on the passing of quality working legislation and inspection of workplaces, but also on preparation of qualified specialists on OHS. Aimed at assessing of relevance of the content of training at Central Asian universities to the needs in prevention of risks of accidents and injuries and promotion of a preventive culture in the workplace, and finding out how they are compliant with the recommendations of the Mainstreaming occupational safety and health into the education (2010), we examined curricula of 20 medical and non-medical universities across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.The analysis of training programs showed that education in OHS and preparation of qualified specialists in Central Asiana countries is up-to-date and tailored to local needs for prevention of risks of accidents and injuries and promotes the notion of a preventive culture in the workplace.
Project description:Only 15% of the global population has access to occupational safety and health services. In Africa, only 5% of employees working from major establishments have access to occupational health services (OHS). Access to primary health care (PHC) services is addressed in many settings and inclusion of OHS in these facilities might increase efficiency in preventing occupational diseases. A cross-sectional study was conducted in four Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries aiming at assessing the availability of OHS at PHC facilities and the organization of OHS. We conducted a literature review to assess the provision and organization of OHS services. In addition to the review, a total of 23 doctors from Zambia were interviewed using questionnaires in order to determine the availability of OHS and training. Consultations with heads of ministries were done in four SADC countries. Results showed that in the SADC region, OHS are fragmented and lack a comprehensive approach. In addition, out of 23 PHC facilities, only two (13%) provided occupational health and PHC. However, OHS provided at PHC facilities were limited to TB screening and audiometric testing. Our study showed a huge inadequacy of trained occupational health practitioners. This study supports the World Health Organization's advocacy to integrate OHS at the PHC level.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To identify groups of municipal employees between the ages of 20 and 34 years with distinct utilisation trajectories of primary care services provided by occupational health service (OHS), measured as the annual number of OHS visits, and to identify demographic and socioeconomic risk factors that distinguish employees in the high utilisation trajectory group(s). METHODS:The present study is a retrospective register-based cohort study. All municipal employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland, aged 20-34 in the Helsinki Health Study, recruited from 2004 to 2013, with follow-up data for 4?years were included in the study (n=9762). The outcome measure was group-based trajectories of OHS utilisation, identified with a group-based trajectory analysis. The demographic and socioeconomic variables used to predict the outcome were age, first language, educational level and occupational class. The analyses were stratified by gender. RESULTS:A large proportion of the young employees do not use OHS. Trajectory groups of 'No visits' (50%), 'Low/increasing' (18%), 'Low/decreasing' (22%) and 'High/recurrent' (10%) use were identified. We found occupational class differences in OHS utilisation patterns showing that lower occupational classes had a higher propensity for 'High/recurrent' OHS utilisation for both genders. CONCLUSIONS:Preventive measures should be targeted particularly to the trajectory groups of 'Low/increasing' and 'High/recurrent' in order to intervene early. In addition, OHS utilisation should be closely monitored among the two lowest occupational classes. More research with longitudinal OHS data is needed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Disasters, crises and pandemics are emergencies which impact on businesses severely. The COVID-19 pandemic reached its peak in mid-April 2020 in the UK. During this period, NHS Occupational Health Services (OHS) were stretched to their limit along with other health services. OHS may have had to change their pattern of operation, operating times, services offered, etc. to cope with the pandemic. Data about business model modifications, services offered by the OHS businesses during the pandemic could help in better utilization of OHS resources in the future. AIMS:To understand the behaviour of OHS in different parts of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS:An online survey link was sent to both accredited and unaccredited UK Occupational Health Physicians (OHPs). RESULTS:Sixty-two OHPs responded to the survey. In the current pandemic, 51% of the OHS (95% CI 0.38-0.62) offered weekend or out-of-hours (OOH) services, 21% had to employ extra staff (95% CI 0.13-0.33) and 54% had to change their working hours (95% CI 0.41-0.65). Ninety per cent of the OHS (95% CI 0.78-0.94) continued to offer routine services; however, there was a decline in offering vaccination services. Fifty-six per cent of the OHS (95% CI 0.42-0.67) offered a dedicated telephone line and 46% of the OHS (95% CI 0.32-0.56) started a dedicated COVID-19 queries inbox. CONCLUSIONS:There was a change in the behaviour of the OHS to cope with the pandemic. Having a dedicated helpline to manage the crisis situation seemed a logical step whilst offering routine services.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Alcohol is associated with detrimental health and work performance outcomes, and one to three out of ten employees may benefit from interventions. The role of occupational health services (OHS) in alcohol prevention has received little attention in research. The primary aims of this study were to explore current practices of alcohol prevention targeting employees in occupational health settings, and examine whether and which perceived implementation barriers were associated with alcohol prevention activity. The secondary aim was to explore whether barriers were differentially associated with primary, secondary and tertiary prevention activities. METHODS:In this cross-sectional study, survey data were collected from 295 OHS professionals in Norway in 2018. Data were analysed by means of descriptive statistics, one-way analysis of variance, paired samples t-tests, and multivariate linear regression analyses. RESULTS:Overall, seven out of ten OHS professionals worked with alcohol-related cases less than monthly, while only one out of ten did so on a weekly basis. Their activities were more focused on tertiary prevention than on primary and secondary prevention. Physicians, psychologists and nurses reported to handle alcohol-related issues more often than occupational therapists and physical therapists. Higher levels of implementation barriers internal to the OHS' organisation (competence, time and resources) were associated with lower alcohol prevention activity. Barriers external to the OHS' organisation (barriers concerning employers and employees) were not. This pattern was evident for primary, secondary and tertiary prevention activities. A majority of OHS professionals agreed that employees' alcohol consumption constitute a public health challenge, and that OHS' should focus more on alcohol prevention targeting employees. CONCLUSIONS:Occupational health settings at workplaces may be particularly serviceable for alcohol prevention programmes since the majority of the population is employed and the majority of employees consume alcohol. An increase in overall prevention activity, and a shift from mainly focusing on tertiary prevention to an increased emphasis on primary and secondary prevention, may both hinge on increased training of OHS professionals, emphasising knowledge on the importance of working with alcohol prevention, and training in administering alcohol prevention programmes. Making alcohol prevention a priority may also require increased allocation of time and resources.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Continued improvements in occupational health can only be ensured if decisions regarding the implementation and continuation of occupational health and safety interventions (OHS interventions) are based on the best available evidence. To ensure that this is the case, scientific evidence should meet the needs of decision-makers. As a first step in bridging the gap between the economic evaluation literature and daily practice in occupational health, this study aimed to provide insight into the occupational health decision-making process and information needs of decision-makers. METHODS: An exploratory qualitative study was conducted with a purposeful sample of occupational health decision-makers in the Ontario healthcare sector. Eighteen in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the process by which occupational health decisions are made and the importance given to the financial implications of OHS interventions. Twenty-five structured telephone interviews were conducted to explore the sources of information used during the decision-making process, and decision-makers' knowledge on economic evaluation methods. In-depth interview data were analyzed according to the constant comparative method. For the structured telephone interviews, summary statistics were prepared. RESULTS: The occupational health decision-making process generally consists of three stages: initiation stage, establishing the need for an intervention; pre-implementation stage, developing an intervention and its business case in order to receive senior management approval; and implementation and evaluation stage, implementing and evaluating an intervention. During this process, information on the financial implications of OHS interventions was found to be of great importance, especially the employer's costs and benefits. However, scientific evidence was rarely consulted, sound ex-post program evaluations were hardly ever performed, and there seemed to be a need to advance the economic evaluation skill set of decision-makers. CONCLUSIONS: Financial information is particularly important at the front end of implementation decisions, and can be a key deciding factor of whether to go forward with a new OHS intervention. In addition, it appears that current practice in occupational health in the healthcare sector is not solidly grounded in evidence-based decision-making and strategies should be developed to improve this.
Project description:Background:Promoting healthy lifestyles at work should complement workplace safety programs. This study systematically investigates current states of occupational health and safety (OHS) policy as well as practice in the European Union (EU). Methods:OHS policies of EU member states were categorized as either prevention or health promotion provisions using a manifest content analysis. Policy rankings were then created for each prevention and promotion. Rankings compared eight indicators from the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks-2 data on prevention and promotion practices for each member state using Chi-square and probit regression analyses. Results:Overall, 73.1% of EU establishments take preventive measures against direct physical harm, and about 35.4% take measures to prevent psychosocial risks. Merely 29.5% have measures to promote health. Weak and inconsistent links between OHS policy and practice indicators were identified. Conclusion:National OHS policies evidently concentrate on prevention while compliance with health and safety practices is relatively low. Psychosocial risks are often addressed in national policy but not implemented by institutions. Current risk assessment methods are outdated and often lack psychosocial indicators. Health promotion at work is rare in policy and practice, and its interpretation remains preventive. Member states need to adopt policies that actively improve health and well-being at the workplace.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In many European countries, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) providers report their activities and results annually. Ideally, this report should offer an overview of their activities and of the outcome regarding occupational health and safety. To establish a set of epidemiological and performance indicators for electronic reporting of data that can be used for OHS surveillance and prevention purposes. Consequently, the selected data can serve as indicators for exposure to and prevention of occupational risks (epidemiology), and contribute to the evaluation of the functioning (performance) of OHS providers.<h4>Methods</h4>An extensive literature search in combination with an investigation of existing reporting models was performed. The resulting list of potential indicators was assessed by different stakeholders and divided into indicators for epidemiology and for performance. Then in a feasibility study, the relevance and availability of the indicators were assessed in 17 external, 49 internal (in company) and 10 mixed OHS providers.<h4>Results</h4>From the literature survey, we obtained 1100 indicators. After validation, 257 were taken into account in the feasibility study. An indicator was considered relevant when more than 2/3 of the respondents answered in favour of the indicator. The same criterion was applied for availability. Respectively, 82% and 62% of the performance and epidemiological indicators were considered to be relevant for external OHS providers. All relevant performance indicators were available. Of the epidemiological data, only 53% were available. Remarkably, internal OHS providers assessed fewer indicators as relevant (29% and 27% of performance and epidemiology indicators respectively), but these were mostly all available (90%).<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study shows that it is possible to provide a snapshot of the state of OHS by means of the registration of data. These findings could be used to build a data warehouse to study national health and safety profiles and to develop a uniform report for all European countries.
Project description:An emerging issue in occupational health and safety (OHS) is that interventions increasingly have to demonstrate that they offer sufficient value for money. To this end, the last decennia have seen more and more economic evaluation methods being employed in this field. However, several recent publications have indicated that many of the published studies suffer from important shortcomings. This paper aims to highlight difficulties in assessing the value of OHS by use of current economic evaluation methods. First, a summary framework presents an overview of the costs and benefits relevant for OHS interventions. Next, three elements from this framework are selected that are at the same time crucial to OHS value, but also challenging to measure and monetise: Effects on worker productivity, 'intangible' benefits, such as reputation effects, and the influence of the broader legal⁻fiscal context in which an intervention takes place. The following sections then discuss the following research questions for each of these elements: Why is it difficult to exclude these factors from OHS economic evaluations? Why do they pose a challenge to the quality of economic evaluations in OHS? How can they be included, and what are the known advantages and disadvantages of the methods to measure these factors? Future work should investigate (and standardise) better methods to include these elements.