Open Disclosure: Information Occupational Physicians Need from Employers
Occupational physicians (OPs) have a central position in organizations as caretakers of employee health. Laws strengthening the role of OPs are being passed in several countries, including Japan, where employers are now required to provide employee information to OPs. However, a consensus on what information OPs actually need has so far been missing.
To address this, Japanese researchers conducted a focus group discussion with eight professional OPs and drafted a list of the information that OPs need from employers. This list included the following: company overview and background, office organizational chart, composition of health and safety staff (e.g., affiliation, qualifications, employment status), composition of employees (e.g., gender, age, employment status), situation of workers to be considered in employment, working systems and hours (including leave), health insurance details, annual company schedule, safety and health hazards, crisis management system, disasters that could significantly impact business or worker load along with situation reports, health and safety issues in the office, changes in the company’s financial condition, inspections for labor standards, outcomes of safety and health meetings, records of workplace patrols conducted by hygiene officers, number and status of workers working long hours, findings from general and special medical examinations, results of job stress surveys, and history of accidents and disasters.
They then tested this list using a questionnaire administered to 777 OPs in the training and certification system of the Japan Society of Occupational Health and received 155 valid responses.
Overall, there was a consensus that all these information categories were required, with 80% of responders agreeing or somewhat agreeing with the list. In information categories that less than 80% of responders agreed with, more senior or specialized OPs were more likely to agree.
Accordingly, the researchers established a framework for information collection by OPs. They showed that specific experiences and systematic education influence decisions regarding the requirement of certain types of information by OPs. Given the findings from the survey, it appears that good relationships and a common understanding between employers and OPs would enable the voluntary disclosure of additional information. Therefore, in addition to their role as caretakers, OPs should also focus on building such relationships with employers.
Link to the original journal article:
Consideration of information that occupational physicians should obtain from employers for use in providing employees’ healthcare
Rina Minohara, Yuichi Kobayashi, Hitomi Fujise, Suo Taira, Kota Fukai, Haruna Hirosato, Koji Mori
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