Promotion of occupational and public health: the European experience and challenge
A wide variety of living and working conditions are powerful determinants of health. And health, in turn, affects the living and working conditions and productivity of all individuals and populations. The awareness of this crucially important interrelationship has been spelt out clearly by our two governments, as well as by the World Health Organization and the Commission of the European Communities. It is, however, not implemented in practical politics. Neither is it applied more than marginally in medical education and clinical practice. Based on surveillance at individual workplaces and monitoring at national and regional levels, occupational and public health should be promoted by job redesign (e.g., by empowering the employees, and avoiding both over- and underload), by improving social support and by providing reasonable reward for the effort invested by workers, as integral parts of the overall management system. And, of course, by adjusting occupational physical settings to the workers’ abilities, needs and reasonable expectations - all in line with the EU Framework Directive and the EU Framework Agreement on Work-Related Stress. Supporting actions should include not only intersectoral and interdisciplinary research but also adjustments of the curricula in business schools, in schools of technology, medicine and behavioural and social sciences, and in the training and retraining of labour inspectors, occupational health officers, managers and supervisors, in line with such goals.
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