OHSA en­hanc­ing ser­vices for re­port­ing oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases

Malta Independent - - BUSINESS -

The Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Author­ity (OHSA) is in the process of en­hanc­ing its ser­vices for the re­port­ing and recog­ni­tion of oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases, through the set­ting up of a cen­tre to serve as a fo­cal point where em­ploy­ees who sus­pect an oc­cu­pa­tional dis­ease can self-re­fer or be re­ferred by em­ploy­ers or med­i­cal doc­tors. It would also make it eas­ier to co­or­di­nate and com­mu­ni­cate with em­ploy­ers and health and safety per­son­nel on con­trol­ling ex­po­sure to the haz­ards caus­ing the oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases.

“When a worker is ex­posed to haz­ards at work which are not con­trolled, they can lead to the devel­op­ment of oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases. Oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases can de­velop within a short pe­riod of time (such as der­mati­tis and mus­cu­loskele­tal con­di­tions) or can take sev­eral years to de­velop (such as can­cers). Recog­ni­tion of oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases is thus a very im­por­tant tool for OHSA in tar­get­ing those in­dus­tries/oc­cu­pa­tions where there is in­ad­e­quate con­trol of haz­ards,” said Dr Mark Gauci, the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of OHSA.

Sev­eral ini­tia­tives have taken place over the years to en­cour­age med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to re­port oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases such as the set­ting up of an on­line re­port­ing sys­tem but there has been very lit­tle par­tic­i­pa­tion in these ini­tia­tives. These stem mainly from the pos­si­ble fear on the part of em­ploy­ees that they might lose their jobs.

“This should not be the case. We would like to en­cour­age pa­tients, doc­tors as well as em­ploy­ers to re­port oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases to OHSA. It should be em­pha­sized that oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases are in­di­ca­tors of lack of con­trol of haz­ards and there­fore re­port­ing of such oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases should lead to im­prove­ment of health and safety stan­dards and ben­e­fit all. Our ap­peal goes also to med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to take an eth­i­cal ap­proach to the sub­ject and thus in­form us, not only of con­firmed cases of oc­cu­pa­tional dis­eases, but also when there is only the sus­pi­cion that a med­i­cal con­di­tion is re­lated to work,” Dr Gauci said.

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