With the world facing the COVID-19 pandemic and everything crashing to a halt – one question kept on popping up in my mind everyday – why did we start Baobab Occupational Health Solutions?
In the race we call daily life, a person sometimes loses sight of the end goal you had in mind initially, you get side tracked by the instinct driven by the desire that your business survives in this cut throat industry we call Occupational Health.
We have had many disappointments in the past year due to some of our competitors giving ridiculous pricing to prospective clients, and if we had to match that, we knew that we would have to surely compromise on quality and safe working practices – so guess what, the temptation was there, but we stuck to our guns, and refused to compromise on this.
So today I was sitting and pondering, and I realized in the mitts of this whole pandemic – we need to stay true to ourselves at all times.
So what are the things that have been a problematic to me during all the years of being in the occupational health industry?
My journey in Occupational Health started in 2007. By then I was qualified as a registered nurse, I qualified in 2001 after completing a 4 year Bachelor degree in Nursing science. I worked in various units in the hospital setting, of which I think I enjoyed emergency medicine the most. In 2007 I had the opportunity to start working in Occupational Health – my first experience – working in an occupational health clinic at a mine.
The expectation was 40 Occupational Health Medicals per day – when you arrived at the clinic 7:30 in the morning, there was clients gathering in front of the clinic door already. The clinic was overcrowded the whole day – the day’s medicals finished by 16:00, no time for proper history taking, no time for proper health education – there was absolutely no method in the madness.
Clinic staff was also never able to take a break to have a cup of tea or even lunch, because clients always come first. In the end you had a clinic with a very negative, burnt-out staff compliment, because they just had to keep on going to get the numbers through in a day, their own physical and mental wellbeing not taken care of.
I always refer to the different reasons a nurse chooses certain specialities, which is definitely parallel with their personality type, and I’m certain all Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners will agree with me, we chose it for the following reasons:
- It’s a preventative field of healthcare.
- You can empower clients who belongs to the less skilled labour force with health education – most probably one of the only opportunities they will come in contact with a healthcare professional and receive quality care.
- It is a window of opportunity to prevent Occupational diseases in a company’s employees by taking the time to talk to them and find out what they understand about the correct use of PPE and risks they are exposed to.
- It is a discipline where you function independently, but also in a team environment on different levels.
- Being an advocate for employees and employers to promote safe work practices.
So what is Occupational Health? According to the WHO, occupational health is concerned with the relationship between work and health. In other words how does the task at hand influence the health of the employee?
A holistic approach to occupational health is illustrated in the diagram below:
And this brings me back to the question: Why did we start this? Did we start it purely to do medicals for companies and make a profit – NO, this was not the reason.
The dream behind starting Baobab Occupational Health Solutions was to assist companies with the promotion and maintenance of their employees’ health in a holistic manner. This can only be achieved by ensuring that all employees function effectively physically, mentally and socially. Preventing health problems caused by work conditions, through assisting our clients with thorough risk assessments, hygiene surveys to quantify the risks identified, health education to our clients’ employees. Protecting employees from risks hazardous to health and ensuring that employees are place in a suitable occupational environment adapted to the employees’ physiological and psychological state.
Can we screen your employees during a project where 20 plus people needs to be rushed through to assess if they are physically healthy to do their job? The answer to this is yes, but then we are not keeping the eye on the ball. By managing your occupational health in this way, we are loosing sight of the holistic approach.
The only way we can really stay true to what we believe is to set the following goal:
TO ASSIST YOU WITH THE HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT OF THEIR EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH IN A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE MANNER, ENSURING THAT QUALITY CARE IS GIVEN TO EACH EMPLOYEE AND THE EMPLOYER IS ASSISTED IN MITIGATING RISK THAT MIGHT INFLUENCE THEIR EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH IN 2020.
We believe a dream written down becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes reality.
Let us assist you in the planning and execution of your company’s Occupational Health in a holistic way, because that is what we are good at, leaving you with more than enough time to do what you are good at, managing your business.
Reference: Occupational Health management & Practice for health practitioners, Revised third edition, Susan Hatting & Jenny Accutt, 200
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