The challenges of Occupational Medicine. the post-pandemic and the need to reinvent itself

Occupational Medicine, in its primary role as promote and prevent the health of workers, it played a historic role during the pandemic and played a leading role in company decision-making. Indeed, the context of the health emergency determined that management had a double purpose: on the one hand take care of the health of the work communitybut at the same time ensure the operability of production processes, through face-to-face, virtual or mixed services.

When we refer to the protection of Occupational Health during the Covid 19 expansion, we point to the mechanisms to prevent its spread, the management of workers with risk factors, the management of confirmed cases, close contacts, and finally treatment. of the physical and psychosocial consequences that are with us to this day.

For this reason, the context of post-pandemic necessarily became the exponential acceleration of changes already originated in the new era of information and communication. Although this was generated in all orders of daily life, the world of work could not be an exception. This is clearly demonstrated in the new expectations of employers and workers.

It is unavoidable that the labor market was transformed, impacting mainly on the objectives of the workers, which can be seen in the enormous differences that exist when we compare the universe made up of the so-called baby boomers and generation x; in relation to the millennials Y centennials. The look of the new generations explains the upward trend of valuing work modalities that make it compatible with other areas of personal development.

Although the telecommuting and the mixed work provision modalities were historically known and applied in some positions or in specific activities, the emergency situation generated a break in the paradigm of labor relations, consolidating itself as a valuable tool for the sustainability of non-essential activities. This allowed knowledge and forced implementation, which determined the assessment of its broad benefits.

These changes were experienced by all the countries of the world affected by the expansion of the coronavirus, which were forced to reinvent themselves, in other words to turn crisis into opportunity. The situation prompted the establishment of the so-called “Work 4.0″, and teleworking was an effective response, due to the benefits it can bring both for organizations and their collaborators.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) highlights that the studies carried out in diverse and dissimilar cultures are conclusive and consistent about its effects: the reduction of environmental pollution, reduction of travel times and mobility in large metropolises, increase in the quality of life of workers with the necessary impact on the productivity, competitiveness and innovation of organizations, reduction of costs and infrastructure, reduction of absenteeism and downtime, increased retention of qualified human resources, greater satisfaction and work commitment, inclusion, among others.

so he settled a new work environment and, in those activities compatible with remote provision, a market is established consisting of jobs of hybrid or pure telecommuting provision. These changes have generated clear challenges for Occupational Medicine, since as a discipline that ensures the health care of workers, it must reinvent itself in the face of innovative work modalities, with highly diverse risks and characteristics.

The book Occupational Medicine in Argentinais a federal and interdisciplinary work that seeks to provide management tools to Occupational Health professionals in new work areas that are even more complex, renewed and competitive.

It is possible to appreciate that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, guaranteeing the prevention and promotion of the physical and mental health of their community of workers, since for them their body and psyche is the only tool of work, and therefore of subsistence and development.

The experience lived around the control of the pandemic has been unfortunate. It has entailed irremediable costs from the human, social and economic point of view. This does not prevent the recognition of the vast learning that will leave around the value of Occupational Medicine, as a discipline that operates as the main guarantor.

The referred work Occupational Medicine in Argentinawas presented at the 46th International Book Fair, last Thursday, May 5, 2022, taking place in the Adolfo Bioy Casares room, with the attendance of the Editorial Committee, the co-authors, and referents of Occupational Health, who They appeared with a spirit of warm meeting, and cultural, professional and human exchange.

On that occasion, it was made known that prestigious leaders of the discipline participate in the book, generously contributing their technical knowledge and vast experience in occupational health management. The chapters develop various regional problems with the exposure of occupational risks and prevention mechanisms, according to the various types of productive activity deployed throughout the length and breadth of our beloved country.

As a corollary, it is unavoidable that overcoming the post-pandemic must be traversed by the continuity of prevention programs, and by the systematic implementation of strategies to control risks to the health of workers, promoting the comprehensive improvement of the quality of life. of them, which will necessarily bring about the ethical development of organizations.

"Occupational Medicine in Argentina”, the book by Varone Maximiliano, Claudia de Hoyos, Samanta Kamenieki and Wanda Otero.  (Photo: courtesy Erga Omnes editions)
“Occupational Medicine in Argentina”, the book by Varone Maximiliano, Claudia de Hoyos, Samanta Kamenieki and Wanda Otero. (Photo: courtesy Erga Omnes editions)

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