New Report Reveals the Global Value of Occupational Health Programmes to Organisations, Workers, Community & the Economy: Launched by the Society of Medicine (SOM), KU Leuven University and the International SOS Foundation

Evidence shows that well implemented Occupational Health services can generate a strong return on investment
Investigates beyond traditional Occupational Health to include wellness, sustainability and CSR

LONDON--()--The global burden of Occupational Health (OH) issues is considerable. Fatal and non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses worldwide equate to a cost of approximately €2680 billion, equivalent to 4% of the global GDP or the entire GDP of Great Britain.1 Consequently, organisations, their workforce, and society have to bear a substantial cost.

“Occupational Health: the Global Value and Evidence”

Today, the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the International SOS Foundation and KU Leuven University launch “Occupational Health: the Global Value and Evidence”. This new whitepaper discusses the value of Occupational Health (OH) from a global perspective and provides a synthesis of global evidence on the effectiveness of OH interventions and cost effectiveness.

SOM CEO, Nick Pahl, comments: “Work related health issues are far reaching, through the impact on organisations, employees and their families and on the wider community and ultimately the economy. Effects are across industries and ailments, from the impacts of a bad flu season2 to accidents and injuries. Many of these issues are preventable or at least can be reduced, hence the enormous potential of Occupational Health programmes. This report provides comprehensive evidence of significant positive health related impact and return on investment of successful Occupational Health interventions.”

Lode Godderis, Professor at KU Leuven University and co-author of the report, “The paper represents global evidence on the overall positive health impact and return-on-investment in a very wide range of Occupational Health interventions. From the implementation of a new manufacturing system in a medical centre to reduce the number of needle stick injuries, resulting in cost savings of $62,000 a year, to a workers’ health promotion programme involving topics such as nutrition and lifestyle management. This study demonstrates that the potential of Occupational Health can be fulfilled in numerous areas of the field.”

The paper demonstrates that Occupational Health services have a clear value: they improve the health of the working population; contribute to the prevention of work-related illnesses; prevent avoidable sickness absence through the provision of early interventions for those who develop a health condition; and increase the efficiency and productivity of organisations. They can also play a major part in protecting and revitalising the global economy.

Olivier LO, Group Medical Director, Occupational Health Services, commenting on behalf of the International SOS Foundation, said, “This paper broadens the scope of OH beyond traditional occupational medicine, to include wellness, sustainability and social responsibility. It extends the meaning of value to encompass both tangible aspects, such as financial performance and legal compliance and intangible effects including reputation and corporate image. By adopting this approach, the report sets out the multi-dimensional aspect of OH value. Through OH interventions, organisations have the opportunity to also have an impact on the wider community and achieve the corporate social responsibility expected from them.”

The report is available at:


1 Global Estimates of Occupational Accidents and Work-related Illnesses 2017.

2 This paper, for instance, addresses this issue in an occupational context and includes a study carried out in Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital in France comparing the cost of vaccinating hospital staff with the cost of sick leave among vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The results show a benefit per vaccinated employee of €5, €26, and €20 per year, and a total benefit for the institution of €86,458.


International SOS
Suzanne Withers
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Society of Occupational Medicine
Ann Caluori
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