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What is Industrial Health?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Industrial health is an aspect of the healthcare profession concerned with the safety and health of people in the workplace. It includes everything from treatment of workplace-related illnesses to identification and management of risks to make workplaces safer. Specialists in industrial health include doctors, nurses, safety inspectors, and insurance companies providing coverage for workplace illness and injury. This field has evolved significantly in response to growing beliefs that workplaces are responsible for keeping their employees as safe as possible.

Workplaces can present a number of dangers to their employees, ranging from obvious issues like exposures to toxic chemicals in manufacturing plants to repetitive stress injuries for office workers. Learning about different types of workplace injuries is an important step for addressing them. Preventative measures like health and safety gear, failsafe systems to eliminate worker hazards, and regular safety inspections are recommended and sometimes required in workplaces to prevent workers from being injured in the first place. Rapid identification of workplace injuries so they can be treated is also important.

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In the workplace, industrial health includes measures like incident reports for people to record the circumstances of injuries, as well as the use of on-site medical personnel to respond quickly to medical incidents. This area of health care also covers the development and implementation of policy. Workplace health and safety experts identify areas of concern to legislators and work with them on creating laws to make workers safer, such as requirements that employers provide respirators or laws concerning the provision of disability insurance to workers.

Industrial health is an evolving medical topic. Historically, the focus was on issues like industrial accidents such as mining collapses, chemical releases, and injuries in machines. Modern practitioners are also concerned with topics like injuries caused by chronic exposures, ranging from migraines in people with sensitivity to fluorescent lights to exposure to radiation in hospitals and research facilities. Workplace mental health is also a concern, particularly issues like depression and anger management problems that might have an impact on other employees.

Institutions providing medical training may offer certification in industrial health to practitioners who want to work in this field, and this topic is also covered in schools of public health, as well as in the legal community, as there are complex liability issues surrounding workplace illnesses and injuries. Numerous governments have agencies responsible for overseeing industrial health, with inspection and policy arms to handle the development and enforcement of effective policies for worker protection.

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