Preventive occupational health care requires that occupational physicians analyse the diverse stresses and strains to which workers are exposed in modern companies from a holistic perspective. At the same time, it is also necessary to take account of how those risks interact with workers’ individual health situations.
On the one hand, the Ordinance on Preventive Occupational Health Care (Verordnung zur arbeitsmedizinischen Vorsorge, ArbMedVV) defines occasions for the provision of preventive occupational health care in relation to exposure and, on the other hand, pursues a comprehensive approach to occupational health care, involving the application of a holistic methodology.
Uncertainty remains about the ways this holistic methodology is actually implemented in practice. Different stakeholders have different views and requirements. Therefore, it is necessary to find out whether and how occupational physicians currently practice a holistic approach to preventive occupational health care in Germany and what factors support or hinder its uptake.
A pilot project is examining this issue by looking at the example of preventive care for employees exposed to high levels of physical workload. Interviews with stakeholders in occupational health protection and workplace case studies of selected settings and sectors are planned.
Interviews will be conducted with occupational physicians and company managers, while group discussions will be carried out with affected workers. The interviews will have a substantive focus on several aspects of preventive occupational health care, such as the occasions for its provision detailed in the ArbMedVV and how they are linked with other exposures that have either not been specified or not featured prominently in the ordinance up until now. The other aspects to be covered include the nature of the preventive care provided, organisational arrangements, the expert knowledge needed, employees’ awareness of the services available, the extent to which they are used, and the respondents’ own assessment of the care that is delivered. Apart from this, it is to be determined whether lessons learned from preventive provision also have implications for occupational safety and health, for example, in the field of risk assessment.
The project’s findings will ultimately be categorised, and the factors that inhibit and promote the adoption of a holistic approach will be described. To contribute to the further development of preventive occupational health care, possible recommendations can be derived from these findings.
Unit 3.1 "Prevention of Work-related Diseases"