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Occupational health

Related Terms

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Background

  • Occupational health refers to the identification and control of the risks arising from physical, chemical, or other workplace hazards in order to promote a safe and healthy working environment. These hazards may include chemical agents and solvents, heavy metals (such as lead and mercury), physical agents (such as loud noise or vibrations), and physical hazards (such as electricity or dangerous machinery, such as power saws and meat slicers). Occupational health also involves psychological factors such as work-related stress. The severity of occupational health problems varies greatly, from mild carpal tunnel syndrome to potentially fatal disorders (such as black lung disease) and fatal work-related accidents.
  • Examples of more hazardous occupations include farming, fishing, logging, mining, truck driving, construction, healthcare, and public safety (such as firefighters and law-enforcement officers). People in such occupations may be asked to pay higher premiums for accident insurance or life insurance.
  • Two common work-related musculoskeletal problems are back strain and carpal tunnel syndrome; the latter typically causes pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that among cases of carpal tunnel syndrome that required days away from work in 2007, the average number of days missed was 28. Among back injuries that required days away from work, the average number of days missed was only seven.
  • According to the BLS, there were more than four million nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States in 2007. The BLS defines occupationalinjury as "any injury such as a cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation that results from a work-related event or a single, instantaneous exposure in the work environment." It defines occupationalillness as "an abnormal condition or disorder, other than one resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to factors associated with employment." The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that occupational risk factors are responsible for more than one-third of back pain cases and about one-sixth of hearing loss cases across the globe.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Health Impact/Safety

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Future Research or Applications

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.