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Trending Now - Occupational Health: June 21, 2012

You may have done to one yourself; years ago, many companies employed a company doctor.  It’s a concept that’s taking on new life and new meaning as business try to maintain a healthy workforce. 

As employers look for ways to cut costs, increase productivity and keep workers happy, many are rediscovering the branch of medicine called occupational health. 

“This whole field really kind of developed back in the turn of the century when there was heavy industry and companies had a lot of injuries on their worksite, so they would hire physicians to come in and help manage that,” says Lee Memorial Health System occupational medicine physician Andrew Singh.

But times have changed and so has occupational health.  It’s evolved from workplace safety to include employee health programs. 

“We’re really moving into much more of a wellness promotion type of activity. A lot of employers are really suffering from the burden of health care costs that keep rising,” says Dr. Singh.

Lee Memorial Health System is launching a new occupational health service available to businesses in southwest Florida.  

“Any and all companies would benefit from this. It could be a retail company; it could be a more of an office environment where ergonomics and back strain are a problem. It could be a chemical company where there’s lots of different exposures to whatever kind of products they’re working with,” says Dr. Singh.

The trend now is to look at the work site, not just for safety issues but for comfort. Employers may not realize the temperature they keep the building or the chairs their workers sit on may be decreasing their bottom line.

“The employer can see a lot of benefit and cost savings and a return on an investment and having healthier employees, says Dr. Singh.

Specialists can come to the workplace and provide clinics, screenings, immunizations, drug tests, even weight loss and smoking cessation programs.

“That’s something I’m really passionate about and really want to help develop, so employees can become empowered to take better control of their health,” says Dr. Singh.

At the end of the day, the workday, it pays to send employees home happy and healthy.