The manifold health hazards employees may be exposed to in the workplace necessitate appropriate measures in the field of preventive occupational health. Even if high-priority technical and organizational occupational safety and health (OSH) measures are observed and personal protective equipment (PPE) used, practical scenarios can always threaten exposure to biological, chemical or physical hazards. What is more, some activities are accompanied by an unusually high risk of accident or health hazard to either those carrying out the activities or third parties.
The aim of preventive occupational health is to inform and advise insured individuals on health hazards. Health impairments are to be prevented or identified at an early stage, with any implications to be dealt with promptly. In addition to this individual type of prevention, occupational medical prophylaxis contributes to improvements in the protection of the health of all employees by using findings regarding the causes of occupational diseases as a basis for improvements in working conditions.
Preventive occupational health is also a means of testing the effectiveness of OSH measures. In addition, it simplifies the perpetuation of evidence in the instance of lawsuits involving occupational diseases, and in particular diseases with long latency periods.
Preventive occupational health is an element of health protection in the workplace and therefore the legal responsibility of employers, who are to ensure that they fulfil their duties in accordance with regulations set out by both the German social accident insurance institutions and state authorities.