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  • A healthy environment and workforce for greater shared value

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    By: Carlos H. Buitrago, Partner Securitas OHS S. A. S.
    The Ottawa Charter (1987) of the World Health Organization (WHO) defines the PST as “the process that allows people to exercise control over health determinants”. In this context, those organizations that support people to adopt and maintain lifestyles with a positive impact and also establish healthy living conditions (environments) become agents of change for the effective promotion of health.
    It is worth noting that a company that is committed to the PST also does so for the profitability and welfare of its employees, because it is an organization that has healthier and happier workers and, therefore, more productive. In the field of occupational health and safety, the objective is clear: to improve the quality of work such that it results in well-being for workers.
    Do as much as possible, instead of the minimum required

    Complying with the objective of maximizing PST is consistent with business logic within a framework of responsibility. As the Green Paper of the European Commission (2001) states, “Being socially responsible does not mean fully complying with legal obligations, but also going beyond compliance.” This concept refers to legal compliance as a minimum level from which activities that exceed that limit must be developed. When companies truly seek to become a better place to work, by going beyond the minimum necessary, they generate shared value in a more productive environment.

    The concept of a healthy company includes those behaviors that not only fulfill their obligations of basic prevention of occupational hazards, but also carry out activities aimed at maximizing the well-being and productivity of their employees. Being consistent with this idea, it is necessary to modify the risk prevention and control approach, in addition to the work that engineers and other support professionals have been developing, doctors can help establish the influence of the work environment on the health of health workers. collaborators

    This perspective corresponds to a business commitment that goes beyond avoiding accidents and that seeks to create environments that promote healthy habits. In addition, this approach represents a breakthrough within the social framework. If today we understand that human capital supports efficiency and effectiveness factors that are represented in competitiveness, all actions that are aimed at facilitating a healthy environment and transmitting beneficial habits to our employees will result in greater shared value.

    The PST must provide the necessary means to improve workers’ health and exercise greater control over it, which implies:

    • That health is not perceived as the mere absence of disease.

    • Understand that in the field of preservation and promotion, not only physical aspects, but also psychic and social aspects must be addressed.

    • Consider health in terms of capacity and possibility of satisfying vital needs (autonomy, joy and solidarity).

    • That health is related to working conditions.

    A transcendental social challenge

    At present, although progress has been made in occupational safety issues, sometimes there is also a certain distrust of medical programs within organizations that result in the welfare of employees and are consistent with concepts listed.

    Thinking about health acquires a dimension that transcends the personal sphere to extend to the organization and society. It should be in our interest to reduce sedentary lifestyle; promote good eating habits; work on the early detection of diseases; look for practices that balance work, family and personal demands; assess and manage stressful loads, pressure and factors caused by the organization itself; and favor integration and support for the disabled, as well as equal rights and opportunities.

    This is the challenge that we see all those who work in occupational health and the illusion of those who require our support.

    The workplace has a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. Mismanagement of occupational health can lead to diseases of occupational interest and high levels of absenteeism. These negative effects, in addition to the costs involved, the decrease in the provision of company services and the consequences for people, highlight the importance of effective and comprehensive management in occupational health and occupational hazards. Temporary disability and absenteeism are relevant issues for companies and are also an indicator of how well an organization is managed. Here are some positive examples in occupational health management that highlight the potential for creating greater value through the implementation of appropriate programs:

    • At the West Sussex Hospital (United Kingdom) an effective approach was taken to counteract absenteeism caused by musculoskeletal diseases. The hospital’s investment in an initiative to immediately assist employees through a physiotherapy service resulted in a reduction of 1,674 days lost in the first year of implementation. The return on investment was 300%, according to hospital estimates.

    • With the effective implementation of actions for the promotion, prevention and control of occupational risk factors in Ecopetrol, through a wide network of epidemiological surveillance committees and interdisciplinary committees evaluating nationwide, the indicator of cumulative frequency of diseases of occupational interest ( EIO) in 2012 it was eight events for every million hours / man worked. A much lower value than those registered by the company in 2011 (22) and in 2010 (28).

    • An advanced occupational health pilot program in Humberside (United Kingdom) that focused on the effective and multidimensional management of long-term absenteeism cases reduced absenteeism levels in 2005/2006 to 5.6 days for each police officer and 8.4 days for each person of the remaining staff. This result led to a saving of approximately US $ 350,000 for this community.

    Carlos Buitrago, partner of Securitas OHS S.A.S.

    Dr. Carlos H. Buitrago is a doctor from the Universidad del Bosque with a specialty in occupational health and a partner of Securitas OHS S.A.S. Also, Dr. Buitrago has extensive experience in the development and implementation of preventive and absenteeism control programs. In Securitas OHS S.A.S., a company dedicated to the provision of services and comprehensive management in occupational health and occupational hazards, Dr. Buitrago directs the technical aspects that are implemented in the different programs according to the latest scientific advances in the field.

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