Occupational physicians are specialists in the field of occupational medicine which focuses on prevention, identification, management and treatment of health conditions and rehabilitation. An occupational physician can operate at a level beyond the individual worker and can consider potential impacts across a workplace population, the holistic work environment and the “health” of the company.
The knowledge, training and skills of occupational physicians distinguish them from other medical practitioners, particularly in the following areas:
- high level of exposure to a wide range of worksites and work-practices
- training to assess work practices and the potential health effects on an individual worker
- specialised understanding of best practice, evidence based approaches to workplace injury management
- experience in management of patients within their work and social environment, not just within a medical model
- expertise in clinical decision-making and cost effective management of injured workers and sickness absence.
Occupational Medicine Practitioner are GPs in the field of occupational medicine which focuses on prevention, identification, management and treatment of health conditions and rehabilitation.
Occupational physician services
Occupational physicians consider medical issues within the wider context of their psycho-social and industrial frameworks, and are central to effective communication with workers, employers, treating medical experts, agents and insurers.
- Clinical treatment and management – occupational physicians specialise in the investigation and diagnosis of work-related health conditions and can provide a thorough approach to the management of injury and illness. Patients may be referred to a occupational physician from their general practitioner, another specialist, an allied health provider, the patient’s employer or an insurer.
- Workplace assessment – occupational physicians have extensive experience in a wide range of worksites and work-practices. An occupational physician’s worksite experience and training in medicine, ergonomics, work practices and industrial processes makes them the ideal adviser on a person’s suitability for a particular job.
- Health surveillance – Health surveillance involves the assessment of individuals to identify changes in health status due to occupational exposure to hazardous substances such as chemicals, biological agents or noise. occupational physicians can work with employers to plan, implement and evaluate a health surveillance program tailored to a specific workplace’s exposures and risks.
- Determining causality – Occupational physicians are trained in the critical analysis of evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, research methods, worksite assessment and risk assessments. With their extensive knowledge of medicine and work practices, occupational physicians are experts in determining whether the health condition a patient presents with is related to work.
- Independent expert opinion – occupational physicians are specialists in providing an independent expert opinion about a person’s reported injuries and disabilities, the worker’s fitness to perform certain work duties or the work-relatedness of a worker’s condition. occupational physician can provide an independent opinion on a person’s condition, diagnosis and prognosis, assess capacity for work, review treatment and comment on its appropriateness and future directions.
- Injury or illness prevention strategies – occupational physicians can work independently, or in collaboration with allied health professionals, to design and implement workplace based injury and illness prevention programs to reduce the human and economic impact of workplace injury.