The Vital Role of Health Surveillance Programs in Occupational Health

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It’s no secret that the world is changing at a rapid pace. Current shifts in our social, economic, environmental, technological, and political spheres will continue to impact when, where, and how we work, and the people we work alongside.  

These shifts aren’t just altering our work environments; they’re reshaping the foundation of occupational health policies and practices. Which means organizations need to step up their game. No longer can they afford to react to occupational health trends as they arise. They must take a more proactive approach. 

Enter health surveillance programs. By optimizing health surveillance programs, organizations can stay ahead of this curve, while yielding better health outcomes and stronger cost savings. With better health surveillance program management, businesses aren’t just adapting to change; they are thriving in it. 

Join us on April 16, 2024, where Cority will host an expert-led webinar on Tomorrow’s Workforce: Navigating Trends in Occupational Health for a Future-Ready Workplace. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the areas we’ll explore.  

Trend #1: Adapting to Changing Demographics 

The composition of the global workforce is changing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2032, individuals aged 65 or older are projected to comprise nearly 10% of the U.S. workforce1.  This cohort is expected to drive a staggering 57% of labor force growth over the next decade2. 

Our rapidly aging global workforce, however, introduces new risks. In a recent study, researchers found that worker’s compensation claims attributed to workers aged 60 years and above were 140% more expensive than those filed by employees aged 18 to 243. This increased cost was found despite the latter cohort comprising nearly one third of all new occupational injuries or illnesses sustained. 

These findings highlight the importance of designing occupational health & safety programs to account for the needs and risk exposures of different demographics. As employees age, occupational health service providers must consider the different challenges faced by each working cohort. Tailoring occupational health programs to help reduce the risk to well-being and mitigate the associated costs to the business. 

Trend #2: Prioritizing Employee Mental Health and Well-Being

According to the World Health Organization’s guidelines on mental health at work, an estimated 15% of working-age adults suffer from a mental-health disorder4. In fact, mental health-related conditions consistently emerge as one of the leading causes of sickness absence, as reported by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)5 

The ramifications of poor mental health are not merely personal; they carry a substantial financial burden for businesses, ranging from £1,749 to £2,174 per employee annually6. Investing in mental health interventions within the workplace, however, has been shown to yield significant returns, with a remarkable return on investment (ROI) of £5.30 for every £1 spent7 

These figures underscore the critical need for organizations to prioritize mental health support, foster workplace cultures that reduce mental health stigma, and incorporate mental health needs into existing occupational health services. Designing surveillance programs to account for mental health needs is a great starting point. 

Want to learn more about emerging occupational health trends? Check out our eBook, Tackling Emerging Occupational Health Challenges With Technology

Trend #3: On-The-Job Violence 

Workplace violence and harassment affect nearly a quarter of all workers worldwide8. In healthcare settings, the situation is particularly alarming. Approximately 15% of hospital staff have experienced physical violence in the past year, with another 27.8% facing harassment from patients and the public9. 

In response, many sectors and organizations have introduced new standards aimed at improving workplace safety and reducing the risk of violence10. These risk-based frameworks aim to establish more secure working environments with guidance designed for effective implementation of violence-reducing programs. 

Leveraging technology can further help mitigate risks of violence by enabling early intervention. Digitizing health surveillance programs and grouping individuals with shared risk factors can help organizations prioritize interventions and resources to reduce the potential for harm for those most at risk. This proactive approach empowers staff to address potential threats before they escalate, fostering a safer work environment for all. 

Optimized Health Surveillance to Thrive Amid Changing Trends

Now that we have outlined some of the trends shaping out workplace health & well-being and opportunities for leveraging health surveillance programs, let’s explore how technology can help.

  • Improved risk assessment via surveillance exposure groups (SEGs):

    Mitigating workplace risk starts with identifying the hazards to which similar workers are exposed on a regular basis. By linking health risks to specific tasks or working environments, firms can easily group individuals with similar exposures together. Making it easier to identify those at greatest risk, plan surveillance activities, and prioritize mitigation measures. This includes periodic health surveys and questionnaires, training, or wellness checks, to reduce the overall impact of exposure. 

  • Integration of health surveillance programs with medical monitoring devices:

    Often, organizations are required to monitor employee exposures to specific risks so they do not exceed prescribed limits. Integrating monitoring devices to capture exposure values directly within an occupational health software can streamline data collection and analysis. Doing so will support more prompt intervention and corrective action if exposures are approaching unsafe levels. Monitoring results, such as from audiometric testing, can seamlessly upload into a digital solution, improving data visibility, decision making, and compliance reporting. 

  • Harnessing the power of health data sharing:

    Consolidating health surveillance program monitoring data into a centralized platform offers numerous benefits. Visualizing data on dashboards and standardized reports empowers OH professionals to prioritize and allocate resources where they are needed most. This data consolidation and visualization streamlines compliance reporting, ensuring accuracy and timeliness in submissions. Moreover, by leveraging platforms that are mobile first, organizations can share surveillance program results quickly, easily, and securely with employees. Ensuring individuals have access to their health data anywhere, any time, to drive better ownership of health decisions and outcomes. 

Final Thoughts 

As organizations navigate through the complexities of the modern workplace, it becomes increasingly evident that prioritizing occupational health surveillance is paramount. By embracing enhanced strategies and staying attuned to emerging trends, organizations can effectively protect the well-being of their employees while optimizing operational efficiency.  

Don’t miss our webinar on April 16, 2024, Tomorrow’s Workforce: Navigating Trends in Occupational Health for a Future-Ready Workplace, where we will be joined by Amplivox’s Neil Court to discuss actionable insights for building a future-ready workplace that prioritizes the health and well-being of it’s people.