Posted on October 13, 2015

Supported by the Supreme Council of Health, Qatar, The Employee Health and Wellbeing Conference kicked off on 11th October at the Intercontinental Hotel Doha. The event is being held under the patronage of H.E. Abdulla Bin Khalid Al Qahtani, Minister of Public Health.

Focusing on the theme, “Global Action Plan: Protect Worker Health – Let the Business Thrive”, the conference is aimed at propagating high quality healthcare of society’s major asset – Human Capital. The second day of the conference began with the opening remarks from Dr. Carl Moen, CEO of Healthy SafeWork and the conference chairman. With the conference being dedicated to the future delivery and influence of occupational health, sessions were conducted on research led innovations in teaching to develop leaders on occupational health.

Dr. Stephen Jones, Cluster Occupational Health Manager from ExxonMobil delivered a presentation on an approach to wellness and health promotion in the workplace. According to Dr. Jones, the implementation of well-known occupational health practices must include health risk assessment, health risk control, medical surveillance of workers, robust fitness for duty assessments, adequate emergency response to deal with workplace injuries and illnesses, and the education and training of workers and managers about the importance of occupational health including individual responsibilities.

A common question that arises during discussions about employee health and safety is whether health is under rated in a safety dominated society. In order to generate a response to this question, a panel session was conducted wherein panelists highlighted the importance and priority of employee health as compared to employee safety. As an example, monitoring employee health and safety in the aviation sector has been a difficult challenge. Thus, a separate session dedicated to addressing these issues was conducted by leaders of the airline industry represented by Qatar Airways, British Airways and Etihad Airways.

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Dr. Soha S. Albayat, Head of Medical Services, Qatar Airways Medical Center said that the aviation industry works hard to promote employee health and safety initiatives. She added that this could be further supported by the implementation of an international program governed by the UN to promote, protect, educate and regulate government and private organizations’ practices to ensure worker’s physical and mental health and well-being.

On the topic of disasters, remote and pandemic health planning, conference speakers addressed various subjects covering occupational exposure to communicable diseases and disaster management. From the Ebola virus that affected the West African mining operations to centralizing contractor healthcare at Wasit, a Saudi Aramco mega project site, speakers shared their experiences on various incidents. On the issue of corporate wellness, Stephan Balte, Manager Wellness B2B from GARMIN International said that: “"For more than a decade we produce wearable products for various types of sports and wellness. We have learned there is no one single solution that fits for all employees the same way. Individuals have different interest and needs.".”

The day concluded with another panel discussion on pioneering remote healthcare. The third day of the conference will see two masterclasses to be spearheaded by experts representing leading organizations, namely Spotcheck, Telemon Corporation (both of which are corporate partners of Ooredoo Qatar) and Qatar Petroleum. The conference has received major endorsement from leading professional development bodies who also presented their views. These include the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), ACOEM (American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine), Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Institute of Remote Healthcare (IRHC), IOSH and British Safety Council.