We spend almost half of our waking hours in the workplace. For some workaholics, the workplace can be their virtual homes.
This highlights the need to keep the workplace healthy and safe and devoid of any serious risk factors that can promote disease and accidents.
The field of Occupational Medicine has evolved rapidly over the last three decades for the essential objective of making the workplace more health-promoting rather than disease-predisposing and accident-prone.
Although called a workplace, it paradoxically may promote sedentariness which is an established risk factor. Just imagine sitting in front of one’s desk during a regular eight-hour work shift and one can appreciate the cardiovascular risk sitting while working can cause.
Sitting is now considered the new smoking and Occupational Medicine is addressing that problem intently to encourage everyone to stand up and do some quick range of motion exercises preferably every hour.
There are also desks that are designed so they could be elevated and make one work on a standing position. Anything that can prevent one from remaining seated all throughout one’s work shift can go a long way in preventing cardiovascular diseases and other sedentariness-related diseases.
The Philippine College of Occupational Medicine (PCOM) really has its plate full to address all factors affecting health and safety at work, and this includes making sure there is optimal control of substances and practices hazardous to health.
The call center workplaces are a particular concern for this because of the nature of their work. To keep themselves fully awake during the midnight shift, they have to load themselves with caffeine and other stimulants. Unfortunately some resort to prohibited substances to keep them awake.
The disruption of their sleep cycle likely caused by the decreased secretion of melatonin, which is usually stimulated by darkness, can also cause havoc in their health. These unhealthy environmental risks, if not properly addressed may also impair their judgement, and that may well be one reason why there is an increased prevalence of unsafe sex practices among call center workers linked with an increased incidence of HIV infection.
The members of PCOM are trained how to conduct a regular appraisal and careful examination of the potential health hazards in the workplace that may promote diseases and accidents. They implement safeguards and other health measures to minimise health risks.
It is for this reason that we’re featuring the PCOM and their advocacies in this issue. We recognise the important role they’re playing to make our various workplaces more health promoting.
The paradigm shift in the practice of Occupational Medicine is truly laudable and game-changing (in fact life changing) for many workers. From a previously reactive and curative orientation as company physicians, these specialists in workplace-related diseases are now proactive and prevention-oriented by nipping in the bud all potential health hazards.
It’s not rocket science to conclude that a healthier workforce is more motivated, more engaged, more empowered, more fulfilled, and definitely more productive. That, of course, can have a tremendous impact on building a more progressive and prosperous nation.
RAFAEL R. CASTILLO, MD