Occupational medicine – What does that mean?
To get an impression of this, I talked to my colleague Dr. Fehst. She holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of Leipzig and initially worked in general and diving medicine after completing her studies and before she decided to exchange the shift work and overtime for a pleasant balance between work and private life. In 2003, she joined TÜV Rheinland in the field of occupational medicine at our location in Leipzig.
For About 1.000 employees
What does the typical everyday life of an occupational physician at TÜV Rheinland look like?
Basically, the activity of an occupational physician can be divided into two core areas: the field service and the office staff – also called the center business. “We are completely free in the design of our everyday work!” describes Dr. Fehst. She likes to start her day in the morning and first drives to the center.
During field service days, she packs the necessary equipment there and then drives to the customer. The journey time is usually 30 – 60 minutes. So she travels quite a lot, a total of about 500 to 1.000km a month she covers on business. At her disposal is a pool vehicle and her private vehicle – the fuel costs will of course be reimbursed.
At the customer’s site
When she arrives at the customer, our partners will provide her, as well as all other occupational physicians, with a suitable room directly on the respective company premises. Usually the customer already has the examination lists for his employees ready. Regular topics include vision and hearing tests, blood samples and examinations for the renewal of driving licence documents. It is then discussed what can be done directly at the customer’s site and what can be done in the center.
Preventing customer hazards
Muscle diseases, mental stress and respiratory problems are only 3 of the 10 most common office diseases. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers in Germany are obliged to ensure and improve the safety and health protection of employees. For this reason, so-called inspections are also part of Dr. Fehst’s activities.
3 common office diseases
Muscle diseases, mental stress and respiratory problems are only 3 of the 10 most common office diseases.
She then partly also works together with the other departments, such as occupational safety and occupational health management, and advises the customer as a team on the existing hazards and how they can be minimized. In the event of service gaps, she recommends her colleagues from occupational psychology – always with the aim of improving working conditions for employees. In the so-called Occupational Health and Safety Committee, it is then recorded under the condition of the OHSA what the design of the workplace must look like in the future so that the diseases do not occur (anymore).
The center business
Of course, there are also quieter days. Dr. Fehst tells me that she likes to take one day a week for your administrative tasks. On this day, she plans further customer appointments, processes your mailbox, plans the inspections or reviews examination results and findings for the pre- and post-processing of customer appointments.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Dr. Fehst what advice she can give to occupational physicians who are currently dealing with a job change: TÜV Rheinland can offer you many professional advantages that you don´t have elsewhere and she couldn´t miss it. Compared to other companies where you are always see the same faces, she has a wide range of customers here and is happy about the opportunity to look at everything neutrally. For Dr. Fehst, however, the cooperation and support of the department represent the greatest advantage over other companies and independence. With us, you take care of the essentials without being exposed to the entrepreneurial risk. For her personally, her part-time job as a company physician at TÜV Rheinland and her part-time job in general medicine is therefore the best of both worlds!
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