What is the status of Occupational Health in your organization?

Date: August 24, 2005

by Shelly Bischoff

Organizations ensure the review and measurement of fiscal reports; strategic plans and business plan deliverables on an annual basis. But when and how should organizations assess the status of the occupational health of employees? Who is ultimately responsible for occupational health? Does everyone share the responsibility or does it fall within the bailiwick of HR? Is it layered within a safety business plan deliverable? And how does Occupational Health translate to the bottom line in organizations?

Some organizations are realizing that the health status of their human capital; their employees, can have a significant impact on the operational bottom line. Asking a few key questions will assist organizations to determine the overall status of their Occupational Health.

1. Who is ultimately responsible for the health of employees in the organization? And how is this communicated throughout the organizations?

The most senior management representative of the organization needs to take tangible responsibility for Occupational Health. This responsibility needs to be communicated throughout the organization through multiple communication vehicles and regularly brought to the forefront of the organization and stakeholders with a platform of advocacy and shared stakeholder responsibility.

2. Where does Occupational Health fit in the strategic plan priorities of the organization?

The value of an organization's human capital must be communicated in the strategic plan. Visible commitment to assess and address the occupational health needs of employees requires the strategies to be developed and initiated at the highest level of organizational strategic planning.

3. Have performance indicators been developed to measure the occupational health status of the organization? And if so, have the performance indicators been strategically aligned in the business plan?

Organizations often indicate that occupational health programming is difficult to measure and therefore not given the appropriate level of priority in the strategic planning process. There are many indicators available to assist organizations to measure the health status of their employees and developing indicators that are specific to the organization will ensure meaningful information.

4. How are the occupational health indicators being measured? And to whom is this information being reported?

Performance indicators can afford tangible evidence of the status and needs of occupational health if correctly identified and measured. The measured indicators will in turn guide the formation of the deliverables assigned to the occupational health strategies in the strategic plan. A system for the collection, interpretation and extrapolation of Occupational Health indicators is necessary to provide accurate and comprehensive information. The Information must then be disseminated throughout the organization in a timely and visible method. Employees, unions, management groups, senior management and governance boards need to have access to the information and how it will be utilized in the development of future occupational health programming.

5. What is the financial/resource allocation to Occupational Health? Is the return on the investment being calculated?

A tangible commitment to occupational health is required to achieve measurable results. The return on investment for occupational health requires the front end financial and resource investment. Significant changes to the disability cost drivers in organizations will require significant investment in the planning phase. The return on investment can only be calculated if the allocated resources are sufficient to produce meaningful results.

6. Are the Occupational Health needs of employees being assessed? And if so, how is the information utilized once the needs are identified?

Allocating resources and implementing occupational health programming is not a guarantee for results. For measurable results and value added return on the investment, organizations need to tailor their occupational health programming around the needs of employees. Implementing programs that are of value to the majority of employees will foster employee engagement and joint accountability for optimizing health in the workplace.

7. Is there a mechanism in place for the organization and employees to share the accountability for occupational health?

Optimizing health in the workplace require more than the efforts of the organization. Employees need to invest in the occupational health programming through financial and/ or time commitments. When organizations and employees share the responsibility for health in the workplace, both stakeholders will benefits from the investment.

8. Is a multidisciplinary approach being utilized to assess the status of Occupational Health in your organization?

Organizations often have one stakeholder group (usually HR orientated) responsible for occupational health programming. This onedimensional perspective does not afford the ability to capture and analyze the complete impact of occupational health in the organization.

Adequate assessment of the status of occupational health in organizations requires the involvement of every sector in the organization from representation from organizational development and payroll and benefits, to front line employee focus groups and strategic planning at the senior management level.

Occupational health is impacting the bottom line of organizations regardless of whether it is being measured, managed or assessed. The health of an organization's human capital can be optimized and disability cost drivers reduced by situating occupational health on the radar screen of the organization. Proactive intervention now will result in the return on investment tomorrow.

Occupational Safety Services


Occupational Health Nurse – Entrepreneurs: What does it Take?

Date: Fall/Winter 2016

Read More »

Climbing the corporate ladder

Date: March 10, 2014

Read More »

Mental Health In The Workplace – It Matters To Everyone

Date: August, 2013

Read More »

Addressing the Gap between Mental Health and Workplace Fairness Policy and Practice

Date: Winter, 2013

Read More »

Toxic farewell a signal to "face" concerns

Date: October 13, 2011

Read More »

Release Your Own Stress to Lead More Calmly: How to Lead & Succeed in Business

Date: April 18, 2011

Read More »