Despite significant global improvement in occupational health and safety over the past few decades, workplace deaths and injuries are still occurring. At the same time, many countries are experiencing an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases due to ageing population and lifestyle factors. Our paper aims to review the association between chronic diseases and risk of workplace injuries, and propose a health-based risk assessment framework which would incorporate employees’ health factors into the risk assessment process which employers are familiar with.Methods
We first reviewed the evidence for the association between chronic diseases and risk of injuries in the workplace through literature review. Subsequently, we proposed a health-based risk assessment framework that incorporates employees’ health factors, giving examples on how this can be done, and at the same time highlight some of the challenges.Results
Many recent studies found that increased body mass index was associated with higher risk of injuries, while older workers were at risk of more severe injuries. Diabetes mellitus was also associated with workplace injuries in some studies. There were fewer studies looking at other chronic diseases such as hypertension. Our proposed health-based risk assessment framework incorporates employees’ health into the risk assessment process outlined in the current Code of Practice for Risk Assessment, in a similar way as that for occupational health and safety hazards.Discussion
A health-based risk assessment framework can improve the integration of health and safety and minimise the need to have different methods of managing health and safety.