Year : 2020  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 1--2

OCCUCON 2020 - Strengthening Occupational Health at the Workplace


T Rajgopal 
 VP, Global Medical and Occupational Health, Unilever Non-Executive Independent Director, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Director – Scientific Committee, OCCUCON 2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. T Rajgopal
Global Medical and Occupational Health, Unilever and Non- Executive Independent Director, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise




How to cite this article:
Rajgopal T. OCCUCON 2020 - Strengthening Occupational Health at the Workplace.Indian J Occup Environ Med 2020;24:1-2


How to cite this URL:
Rajgopal T. OCCUCON 2020 - Strengthening Occupational Health at the Workplace. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 8 ];24:1-2
Available from: http://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2020/24/4/1/276207


Full Text



Way back in 2013 the then Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder in his message on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work quoted “To move forward it is necessary to close the data gap, because knowledge is the key to prevention”.[1]

The Indian Association of Occupational Health (IAOH) which is the largest not-for-profit professional voluntary organization in the country aims to provide scientific knowledge and guidance to industries on problems of occupational health and hygiene. One of IAOH's stated objectives to disseminate knowledge in the space of occupational health.

The Indian Association of Occupational Health is affiliated to the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), which is an international professional organisation dedicated to scientific research. The IAOH has a consultative status with the World Health Organization.

IAOH believes that purposeful and involved occupational health services at the work-place as envisaged by the ILO, is the best channel through which modern medicine can help industry achieve positive health and productivity.

To address the needs of occupational health in the country and to help strengthen occupational health in the country, the IAOH is hosting the 70th National Conference on Occupational Health along with an International Conclave in Mumbai from the 28th January to the 1st February 2020. This conclave and conference will have a few scientific committees of ICOH participating and deliberating on various aspects of Occupational Health. National and international exchange of studies and experiences on workers' health, is vital not only for the health of the workers, but also for the social and economic development of a company, country or region.

India's economy is set to grow at 6.1% in 2019, picking up to 7% in 2020, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook. Employee health and wellbeing is critical to ensure protection of human capital as well as a robust economic growth trajectory.

Decision makers at all levels like employers, government officials, occupational health practitioners, workers and their unions need knowledge and information to be able to take appropriate action to address occupational health and safety issues,[2] and the conference aims to fulfil the stakeholder expectations in this area.

It is pertinent to note that no less than eight International Commission on Occupational Health Scientific committees are associating with the Indian Association of Occupational Health in the organizing of the first three days of the event. The titles of the scientific committees reflect their specialisations: Effectiveness of Occupational Health Services, Education and Training in Occupational Health, Rural Health, Agriculture, Pesticides and Organic Dusts, Mining, Occupational Health in the Construction Industry, Occupational Health and Development, Occupational Health in Small-Scale Enterprises and Informal Sector and MEDICHEM which would review occupational health in the chemical industry. This event is unique as international top experts on eight different knowledge areas will share contemporary knowledge. There is a special Round Table session addressing Basic Occupational Health Services with over ten country presentations on the theme and commentaries by ILO, WONCA (World Family Physicians Organization) and ICOH representatives.

A workshop on current practices in Occupational Health has been organised for engineers and safety officers of medium and small-scale enterprises with international experts addressing these participants.

Over ninety national and international speakers will be presenting at the ICOH meeting with attendance at the OCCUCON expected to be around 600 (national and international delegates). Abstracts have been assessed by a team of seventeen international and national reviewers distributed across Scientific Committees. These abstracts cover topics as diverse as educational and training technologies with evidence-based methods and online technologies with effectiveness analysis, cultural transformation for Occupational Safety and Health, informal workers' occupational exposures, ergonomic interventions and occupational exposures in mining and construction industry, environmental toxicology, risk assessment, air pollution and work environment, climate change, occupational health in agricultural sector exposures in chemical industry, pesticide exposure and cancers, association of silicosis and tuberculosis.

Basic Occupational Health Services[3] (BOHS) is a special discussion topic to address primary and community health care efforts for workers' health where no expert-based care is available. International organizations (WONCA, ILO, ISSA and ICOH, and organizations from India representing various stakeholders) will be deliberating on BOHS during this conclave – we expect concrete recommendations to improve health and wellbeing of workers in the informal sector. The IAOH has already taken a pioneering lead by bringing out YouTube videos on OH in the informal sector. Education through satellite transmission of these topics is being done in states like Gujarat.

The focus of OCCUCON 2020 is to promote Occupational Health at the Workplace by equipping Occupational Health Physicians to understand the linkage between work and health as also ill-health and work, to enable them to effectively address these issues in order to make India's workplaces safe and healthy. Appropriate proactive practice of Occupational Health in the Industry has the potential to keep employees healthy and protected against Occupational Diseases and Injuries and thereby enhance the productivity of the Industry.[4]

One of the highlights of the OCCUCON 2020 would be the release of the document “Adult Immunization Guidelines” by the IAOH which has been developed in conjunction with leading experts in this field in India. Adult vaccination is an important component of workplace occupational health services.[5] The guidance document is expected to benefit thousands of employees across both the formal and informal sectors in India.

Orations and keynote addresses would cover, health and wellbeing as an enabler for business growth, control of silicosis, audit in Occupational Health, intersection of occupational hygiene and occupational health, working women and occupational health, capacity building in occupational health, the role of digital cardiology in occupational health and the state of epidemiology in the context of occupational health.

The conference has a session which will review mental well-being at the workplace. It is estimated that one in every four individuals suffers from stress, anxiety or depression. Programmes in leading multinationals have shown that Leadership, Communication and Building Resilience are key to addressing mental well-being.[6] We will have international and national experts deliberating on addressing workplace mental wellbeing. Other contemporary topics to be addressed in the conference would include Diversity and Inclusion in the context of Occupational Health and Ergonomics at the workplace.

OCCUCON 2020 will also focus attention on the theme symposium of health and productivity. Global data show that for every single dollar invested in employee health and wellbeing the returns can be as high as four dollars. Health, engagement and productivity are closely linked. An internal study by Unilever over a six year period shown the overall return on investment to be 2.33.[7]

Appropriate proactive practice of Occupational Health in the Industry has the potential to keep employees healthy and protected against Occupational Diseases and Injuries and thereby enhance the productivity of the Industry. The OCCUCON 2020 would be an excellent learning platform for all stakeholders.

Good Health is indeed Good Business! Apart from being the profitable thing to do, Improving Employee Health is quite the right and responsible thing to do. OCCUCON 2020 looks set to be a catalyst in strengthening occupational health in the country.

References

1https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/lang--en/index.htm. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 06].
2Takala J. Information: A precondition for action. In: Stellmann J, editor. Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organisation; 1998. p. 22.2-22.4.
3Pingle S. Basic occupational health services. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2009;13:1-2.
4Kirsten W. Making the link between health and productivity at the workplace--A global perspective. Ind Health 2010;48:251-5.
5Russi M, Budnick LD, Behrman A, Buchta WG, Guest R, Hodgson MJ, et al. ACOEM Guidance Document. Guidance on Occupational Health Services in Medical Centers – 2019.
6Rajgopal T. Mental Wellbeing program. Health: Our Business. Volume 3, 50-53. Case studies from the Corporate World – putting mental health and wellbeing into action. Published by the Global CMO Network and BUPA.
7Rajgopal T. Healthy Workplace. Health our Business Volume 2, 36-39. Published by the Global CMO Network and BUPA.