1749 Connected workplace health, safety and wellbeing in an irish context

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Abstract

Irelands industrial heritage is often overlooked. Though not of the same scale as our closest neighbour Ireland has a significant industrial past. The famine not only led to depopulation particularly of rural areas but also to urban drift and the growth of factory labour. Early health and safety legislation focused on extractive, manufacturing and transport industries. Modern Irish legislation has encompassed the terms health, safety and welfare from its inception in 1989. The practical focus has been on the safety component, a reflection of preceding legislation. Over the last 10 years there has been an increased focus on health and welfare and a move toward the concept of wellness. The concept of Total Worker Health though more established overseas and particularly in the United States, is a new arrival in Ireland. This approach attempts to integrate the functions of occupational health, health promotion, and health protection programs with the aim of improving employee health, minimising work-related injuries and illnesses, and reducing employee health care-related costs. It has been embraced to varying degrees by different organisations and with varying levels of success. Prof Gallagher will discuss the reasons behind this and will look at some recent evidence and case examples in Ireland. He will address where occupational medicine fits into the concept of total worker health and how this may develop in the future. This has implications for the discipline of occupational medicine which he will also address. Finally he will look at the challenges and opportunities of connected health approaches.

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