Occupational Health Program Coordinator
Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital
1200 Westwood Drive
Hamilton, MT 59840
What is Occupational Health?
Over the last 100 years there has been a worldwide increased awareness
of workplace hazards. In 1970 United States president Richard Nixon signed
the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law. The law was designed
to help implement a workplace free from recognized hazards that had caused
or were likely to cause serious physical impairment or death. Over the
last 46 years substantial progress has been made country wide. In 1970
the estimated workplace deaths in the US were 14,000; by 2010 the workforce
itself had more than doubled however deaths were down to 4,500. This incredible
improvement can be attributed to the implementation of various occupational
health programs throughout the country.
The current focus of the occupational health industry is on three objectives:
1) the maintenance and promotion of workers' health and working capacity;
2) the improvement of working environments to be conducive to safety and
health and 3) development of programs and internal structures to support
health and safety at work.
Unfortunately in the state of Montana we are still significantly above
the national average for workplace injuries and deaths. According to the
2014 OSHA statistic report on business with 100 or fewer employees Montana
workers still have an increased risk. So whether you own a moving company,
a bakery, or a construction company your business is at an increased risk
for workplace injuries.
Per 100 employees Montana Department of Labor and Industry 2014 report
For the last year Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital has been offering occupational
health services out of the Bitterroot Physicians Clinic. Jennifer Krueger,
MBA, PA-C, DFAAPA, is a federally certified DOT examiner and is the program
Medical Director. Jennifer has over 25 years of experience with a diverse
back ground in Emergency, Occupational, Sleep and Family Medicine. She
has set up several occupational health programs across the state of Montana
and brought her expertise to our clinic.
Occupational Health programs primarily focus on assisting local businesses
with establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.
Data shows occupational health programs improve overall health and safety
outcomes for businesses, including:
- Reducing sickness and absences
- Reduced workers compensation costs
- Reduced administrative and human resources cost
- Identifying potential health risks in the workplace and helping businesses
maintain a healthy workforce
- Provide screening and surveillance services when health issues arise
A wide range of services are offered to help prevent workplace injuries
and illness as well as ways to help maintain optimal health. Occupational
health is a multidisciplinary field, programs often include but are not
limited to injury care, pre-employment services, occupational and physical
therapies, laboratory & imaging services and respiratory therapy and
There are many different types of Occupational Health physicals. The type
of exam done is based on the job description the employer provides or
the regulatory paperwork the patient provides prior to their appointment.
Some of the more common exams performed are pre-employment physicals,
DOT and return to work exams. We also do focused exams, such as respirator
clearance, firefighter and even hazmat physicals.
Our clinic laboratory offers titer services such as hepatitis, varicella
and MMR, thus saving the employer the cost of vaccinations. Drug testing
services are another common option that employers choose, by themselves
or with other screening services. The options include pre-employment,
post-accident, random and for cause drug and/or alcohol testing. Tests
are performed by obtaining urine, hair or blood samples depending on paperwork
provided by employer. We can meet any state or federal guidelines.
Other services often requested by employers are vaccinations such as flu,
varicella MMR's and the hepatitis B series. Diagnostic services such
as electrocardiograms (EKG), pulmonary function testing (PFT), tuberculosis
skin testing (PPD) and various vision screenings including Ishihara color
Same day urgent/emergent services are offered for workers compensation
injuries both on a walk-in basis or scheduled appointments. The types
of injuries we can see include but are not limited to lacerations, burns,
sprains/fractures and other minor injuries. We strive to get workers back
to their place of employment the same or next day with reasonable restrictions
that their employer can accommodate. This helps cut back on the employer's
overall costs and employee wage loss thus improving overall workplace moral.
The Marcus Daly occupational and physical therapists offer a multitude
of valuable services to our occupational health program and local employers.
Not only do they provide necessary services to help injured workers get
back on the job but they offer many other sometime underutilized services.
They are able to assess an individual's ability to perform required
tasks; using the state of the art equipment they have in their facility
or go to the work place to perform on-site ergonomic and or work-safety
evaluations. Many positions today require a heavy lifting clearance, and
or specific range of motion and or a body mechanics evaluation. All of
this can be taken care of in one facility. Our team will even to come
to your workplace to do general safety classes for the employees. All
of these services are essential to helping employers avoid potential risk
for on the job injuries.
Questions and or comments regarding this week's health column please
contact Desiree Tibbs, Program Coordinator at Marcus Daly Occupational
Health Services, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840. Working together
to build a healthier community!