The impressive economic gains achieved by many nations within the past decade have been attributed primarily to improvements in productivity from technological changes. The resultant low unemployment levels, however, emphasize the importance of human capital in the success of any enterprise. Concurrently, some economists have proposed an alternative economic view regarding the relationship between health and income, postulating that improvements in the health of the nation’s population have a substantial effect on its economic viability. Such a view directly pertains to occupational health professionals, who are often charged with promoting the health of the worker. Although studies relating the beneficial impact of occupational health on productivity and human performance are limited, some efforts have shown impressive effects, as measured primarily by reduced absenteeism. The prompt, assertive management of occupational injuries and illnesses and their treatment have been well documented. Illnesses not considered traditional occupational ailments, such as migraine headaches, allergic disorders, infectious diseases, and depression, offer opportunities for occupational health professionals to ensure an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for minimizing the impact on work performance. Considerable opportunities exist for occupational health professionals to demonstrate the importance of certain services to productivity.
From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
Address correspondence to: Dr Robert J. McCunney, Director, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 16-267, Cambridge, MA 02139.
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