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Reflections on a Holistic Approach to Occupational Health and Safety

  • Published
  • 3 June 2024
  • Category
  • General

I recently spoke at the American Industrial Hygiene Associations’ Connect 2024 Conference and had the opportunity to meet many members of the environment, health, and safety (EH&S) community. My chief takeaway is that the conference serves as a beacon for those who are passionate about workplace health and safety protections.

As the world of work continues to evolve, the importance of a holistic approach to occupational health and safety has never been more apparent. The conference, held May 20-22 in Columbus, Ohio, featured advocacy on behalf of Total Worker Health®, a phrase trademarked by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that is widely used in business and industry.

Innovation and Education

The conference is a hub of innovation and education where professionals can attend classes, visit exhibits, network and learn from each other. In addition to the core curriculum for industrial hygienists and allied professionals, this year’s conference offered a diverse range of educational sessions on EH&S topics including climate change exposure risk, laboratory safety, human resources management, and my own presentation, Prevention Saves Lives, Time and Money.

Employee health and safety protections are more than regulatory requirements. They are foundational pillars for the well-being of employees and the success of businesses. A holistic approach involves proper implementation of health and safety protocols and prevention measures. Experience shows that such measures can markedly decrease work-related injuries and illnesses, ensure compliance with applicable laws and industry standards, and lower workers’ compensation costs.

In addition, this approach:

  • Encourages employee engagement in workplace health and safety, one of the themes for National Safety Month.
  • Supports objectives of corporate social responsibility.
  • Produces operational efficiencies and workforce productivity.
  • Facilitates strategic efforts to attract and retain talent, increase job satisfaction and cultivate a welcoming organizational culture.

The holistic perspective also covers health issues that might not directly stem from occupational activities but are nonetheless influenced by them, including conditions such obesity, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular disease and certain mental health conditions.

Looking Forward

This year’s conference successfully helped attendees view industrial health and safety through the lens of diverse professions and served as a reminder of the collective responsibility we share to foster safer, healthier workplaces. The conference’s focus on Total Worker Health® was a call to action for all stakeholders to embrace a comprehensive view of worker health, safety and well-being, one that transcends traditional boundaries and paves the way for a more resilient and thriving workforce.

Together, we can shape a future where workplace safety and worker well-being are not just aspirations but realities. Let’s connect, learn, and help lead the way in occupational and industrial health and safety.

Kála Earley, MBA/MHA, LAT, ATC, CEAS, is the implementation and training manager for WorkCare’s Industrial Athlete Program. Please use this link to contact us.