14/02/2013

Networking as a driving force for a culture of prevention

Tim Tregenza

How do we integrate occupational safety and health into the bigger picture of employment and social policy on a global scale?

One way is to hold a conference on networking as a driving force for a culture of prevention with delegates from 33 countries and representatives from many international and national expert bodies.

Hosted by DGUV (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) during 6 – 8  February 2013 in Dresden, the conference was opened by keynote statements from Maria Neira (WHO),Seiji Machida ( ILO), Hans-Horst Konkolewsky (ISSA), Kazutaka Kogi (ICOH), Kevin Myers (IALI), Walter Eichendorf (DGUV), and Director of EU-OSHA Christa Sedlatschek.

With the conference acting as a precursor to the 2014 World Congress to be held in Frankfurt, there was a great deal of discussion on how we can work across traditional “silos” such as public health, occupational health, and diversity management.

The conference sought to cross boundaries, bringing together public and occupational health professionals, safety engineers, diversity experts and others who presented and discussed their perspectives in a parallel series of workshops.

The workshop outcomes were then integrated into the full conference to identify common positions and steps that could be taken to achieve a greater integration of these policy threads.

One of the key outcomes was the identification that health services - primary health care, occupational health, workplace health promotion, fitness for work assessment, and return to work and rehabilitation approaches need intergration and collaboration so that worklessness can be avoided and that those health problems can be maintained in work and are not excluded from the labour market. 

This working together and networking knowledge is not easy, and prevention experts in particular were identified as the "agents of change", those people who can engage and empower employers, workers, policy-makers, and legislators to achieve a reduction in harm to Europe's workers, and the maintenance of Europe's health to ensure the fulfillment of individual wellbeing, that social security systems are not overburdened and that the Europe economy is competitive.