On the 17th of August 2018, Republic Act No 11058 [AN ACT STRENGTHENING COMPLIANCE WITH OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF] was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The law aims to ensure full and proper compliance with occupational safety and health standards (OSHS), starting with the most basic—a place of work safe from hazardous conditions that could cause death, illness or physical harm.
Among the provisions of the law is the designation of Occupational Health Personnel, a qualified physician, nurse, dentist or first-aider, to provide the necessary health services in the workplace. All such personnel should have completed the mandatory safety and health seminar required by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
That occupational safety and health (OSH) is an essential medical service is further underscored by the signing of the new law. What else should you know about OSH?
The challenge of occupational health is multi-faceted, which includes the enhancement of the overall well-being and wellness of the workforce; boosting and maintenance of work capacity; and the prevention and control of occupational diseases and injuries.
While the medical expertise and skill of an occupational health physician (OHP) are the most essential tools of the job, there is also a need for the ability to communicate and knowledge of the life and needs of the employees or workforce. Being able to empathize with and understand the concerns of the patients will render the OHP more efficient and effective.
In a UK study on required competencies from occupational health physicians from the workers’ point of view, the findings were as follows:
- Advising on Law and Ethics
- Assessment of Occupational Hazards to Health
- Assessment of Disability and Fitness for Work
- Assessment of Environmental Exposures to Health
- Research Methods
- Health Promotion
In Japan, the law mandates companies with 50 or more employees/workers to hire a medical doctor as an occupational physician to serve as consultant on health management issues. The global economic conditions and slowdown have brought major changes in the workplace and impacted on the mental health of employees. Depression is a growing concern, requiring occupational physicians to be well-versed in handling the issues arising from such conditions.
Occupational safety and health is a core concern given that adults spend an average of 1/3 of their waking hours at work. The global standards as defined by the WHO Global Strategy on Occupational Health for All, which was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1996, specifically affirms the right of all workers to access to occupational health services. Medical professionals who can carry the title of occupational physician are required to have relevant higher postgraduate qualification in occupational medicine, demonstrable competencies acquired through training and experience, maintained competencies through continuous professional development and annual appraisals in relation to their practice in occupational medicine.
The responsibility and scope of occupational health professionals impact greatly on the worker, the workplace, the company and ultimately, the country. Ensuring well-being and wellness in the workplace requires both experience and empathy, as the wide-ranging needs indicate that the occupational health professional must have both the technical skill and the personal touch to do the best job possible.
RA 11058. Retrieved from
Fitforwork Team. (2015, September). The Role of Occupational Health. Retrieved from https://fitforwork.org/blog/the-role-of-occupational-health/
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Reetoo KN, Macdonald EB, Harrington, J.M. (2004). Competencies of Occupational Physicians: The customer’s perspective. Retrieved fromhttp://www.hse.gov.uk/research...
Nobuyoshi, H. (2011, March). The Role of Occupational Physicians at Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.med.or.jp/english/...
British Medical Association. The Occupational Physician. Retrieved from