OEM Physicians: Keeping America’s Workforce Healthy
As the nation’s workplaces become more complex, occupational and environmental health specialists play an increasingly visible role in preventing diseases and promoting wellness among workers by evaluating the interaction between work and health. OEM physicians are part of a business organization and understand both management's and labor's concerns and opportunities, in addition to administering the medical program and supervising medical personnel.
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Competencies of the OEM Physician
- Ability to diagnose and treat occupational diseases and injuries and identify health outcomes of environmental exposures
- General knowledge of worksite operations and familiarity with toxic properties of materials and the potential hazards and stressors of work processes
- Ability to determine an employee's physical and emotional fitness for work
- Ability to educate workers on health, wellness, and sanitation
- Proficiency in workers' compensation laws; local, state, and federal regulatory requirements; and systems for maintaining medical records
- Ability to organize and manage the delivery of health services and maintain physician/patient confidentiality.
As highly trained specialists, OEM physicians and allied health professionals enhance the health of workers through:
- Preventive medicine
- Clinical care
- Disability management
OEM professionals are skilled at using the tools of preventive medicine to improve the health of workers and their families, and are trained in the complex Return-to-Work process, an advanced system of health monitoring that optimizes the time in which ill or injured workers can safely return to work.
OEM physicians provide a unique bridge between the clinical/scientific medical community and the business-based employer community.
Occupational health professionals occupy a critical position at the center of virtually all health-related transactional activities in the workplace. They are connected to all parts of a complex infrastructure: senior management, benefits and human resources, legal, worker’s compensation, government regulatory agencies, labor and unions, hospitals and public health organizations. They are a fulcrum of workplace health—understanding the needs and challenges of each of these diverse groups.