Future challenges of occupational health care: supporting ability to work and preventing incapacity for work
In future, occupational health care will be more closely connected to the systems of health and social services and rehabilitation. More occupational health care measures than today will be available to maintain employees’ ability to work and to support longer working careers. The aim is to help those, who have reduced capacity for work to continue working more often than today. These outlines are included in Government resolution on the future of occupational health care, which was adopted on 19 January.
The objective is that in 2025 all employers have organised occupational health care services, regardless of the size of the enterprise. Occupational health care services for small enterprises and entrepreneurs in particular need to be developed in order to meet the needs of employees who are carrying out work under changing circumstances. Digital services can offer a new opportunity for the occupational health care service providers to reach workplaces and employees.
Counties will be responsible for health and social services from 2019. This change will bring the various stakeholders closer to each other, which will make the cooperation easier and the use of expertise more effective as well as increase effectiveness in general and save costs. In the years to come, occupational health care services play an increasingly important role in coordinating activities between employees, workplaces and healthcare and rehabilitation providers in cases where the employee needs treatment or rehabilitation.
Occupational health care activities will more clearly than today focus on supporting people’s ability to work. The activities can concern the employee, his or her work community or the working environment. The occupational health care providers need to be able to identify, as early as possible, the groups and individuals at risk at the workplace and the circumstances threatening employees’ ability to work. Preventive activities maintaining work ability will be targeted to these groups with the help of the workplace. Occupational health care measures are important when Finland aims to extend the number of years people are at work. The measures support people’s capacity to stay at work, willingness to continue working and improve their wellbeing at work.
The assessing of unemployed persons functional capacity and ability to work will benefit from occupational health care expertise
Occupational health care professionals are experts in matters related to health risks at work, assessment of ability to work and measures to prevent incapacity for work. In future, this expertise would be used when assessing unemployed persons’ ability to work and incapacity for work. This could ease commitment to work.
When preparing these outlines, the changing nature of work and working life has been taken into account along with legislation, and attention has also been paid to the current reforms of the systems of health and social services and rehabilitation.
The policy outlines for Työterveys 2025 (Occupational Health Care 2025) have been prepared by the Advisory Board on Occupational Health Care. The relevant ILO Convention, ratified by Finland, requires continuous development of occupational health care services. The first outlines for development of occupational health care were set in 1989, and they were adopted as Government resolutions.