Workplace Health Management
Workplace Health Management (WHM) incorporates all activities aimed at preserving and promoting health.
WHM brings together all health-related activities, including measures aimed at Occupational Safety and Health, Disability Management and Workplace Integration and Workplace Health Promotion. This page provides some basic information on this topic.
The advantage of organising all of a workplace's health-related activities within the scope of Workplace Health Management is that it allows health to be enshrined as an objective at the company level. It also allows it to be incorporated into existing management processes.
Occupational Safety and Health and WIM as a starting point
A suitable starting point comes in the form of the binding statutory measures relating to Occupational Safety and Health, key among them being the risk assessment and the interventions derived from it. Likewise, it is possible to use Workplace Integration Management (WIM), which is also enshrined in law, as a starting point for establishing a system of health management or a health-promoting form of organisation. Sources of support and advice on setting up a WHM system include works doctors, safety specialists and health-insurance funds.
From individual measures to health-promoting organisational development
A large part of the measures to be organised under WHM are derived from risk assessment and are therefore based on the Safety and Health at Work Act (ArbSchG). The risk assessment process - i.e. the planning, execution, evaluation and documentation - is stipulated in law. Occupational safety and health measures range from protection against physical hazards due to heat, cold or hazardous substances on the one hand to preventive occupational healthcare and organisational interventions to reduce mental load on the other.
The workplace as a "setting"
Furthermore, there are many opportunities to put additional health-related activities into practice. These include individual courses and seminars (for example on exercise, stress reduction or quitting smoking), as well as additional preventive services or comprehensive health-promoting organisational development. In the case of voluntary services, the workplace serves as what is known as a "setting", i.e. a location in which the individual spends a large part of their life. Accordingly, that location is a place where healthcare services can be taken advantage of, and use should be made of this opportunity. This approach has been further enshrined in the Prevention Act.
Ensuring effectiveness when selecting measures
Measures should be selected according to their proven effectiveness, ideally in relation to defined health objectives. One suitable option here is to resort to effectiveness analyses drawn up using the methods of evidence-based occupational medicine. For example, an overview of the benefits of workplace preventive measures can be found in the systematic literature evaluation by the Initiative Health and Work (iga-Report 28). You can download this publication (only in German) in the section "Veröffentlichungen".
Involving the workers from the outset
If the aim is to have a health-promoting organisation in a broad sense, the workers should, as far as possible, be included in all of the processes. This participation should extend from the analysis stage to the implementation of measures and can be achieved through, for example, a health and safety committee or health panels. Further information can be found on the website of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA).