The discipline of environmental and occupational health is concerned with relationships between work, environment, and health. Firstly, let’s look at the basic principles of environmental and occupational health. These are considered with the health effects of individuals and populations when exposed to air and water pollution, pesticides, organic solvents, dust, and physical hazards which occur in the environment, at home, or in workplaces.
Now let us define what environmental and occupational that occupational studies the distribution of health events and health-related determinants concerning our working environment. Environmental health examines the involuntary exposure to physical and chemical factors in the indoor and outdoor environment that may affect health patterns. Furthermore, the field of occupational environment health uses similar although the conditions differ.
Environment health studies beyond the health effects of exposure to specific environmental factors and consider the long-term impact of the ecosystems on the nearby populations. Occupational safety evaluates and provides interventions to reduce the risk of injury and illness using economic, human factors, and wellness for future, current, and past workers.
These are achieved by the working principles of occupational health. Occupational health brings together many sciences and various social disciplines in order to achieve social progress for workers and their families. The field recognizes the social right to work in a safe place where due care is given to prevent injury and illness. It also includes protecting the health of workers from death, injury, and disability thereby also protecting their families and those who depend upon them against loss of income and social support.
Although often occupational health problems are overlooked, they contribute a substantial drag on economic development, accounting for at least 4-5% of the gross domestic product of countries. Evaluation of the magnitude of environmental factors and stresses that arise from workplaces is performed by the occupation and environmental health officer. This is aided by quantitative measurement of the chemical, physical, economic or biological stresses. He can thus give an expert opinion as to the degree of risk posed by the environmental factor or job stresses.
Occupational and environmental health includes prevention and control of hazards, and curative and rehabilitative programs to reduce or eliminate exposures. Therefore, the scope of occupational health safety is:
- Establishment of sound sanitary conditions within the workplace such as water supply, waste disposal, canteen, showers, and hand washing facilities and sanitary and safe storage of chemicals.
- Provision of health services including first aid.
- Health protection in the work environment.
- Rehabilitation of those that have been injured.
- Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of occupational-related diseases and accidents.
Therefore, the primary responsibility of occupational health officers are as follows:
- To protect the health of the employees.
- To counsel the employees regarding the health hazards and the necessary precautions to avoid adverse health effects.
- To respect confidence, advice honestly, and repost findings and recommendations accurately.
- To act responsibly in the application of industrial hygiene principles towards the attainment of a healthy working environment.
Remember that it is always better to control the hazard as close to the source as possible. Therefore, using personal protective equipment is the least acceptable and least effective of all control measures.
In summary, occupational health is the branch of public health that is concerned with the control of occupational hazards that arise as a result of work activities. These may cause impaired health, sickness, or significant discomfort among the citizens of the community or workers. It compares the study of acute as well as chronic conditions emanating from hazards posed by physical, chemical, and biological agents, and stress.