Occupational health in 21st century

An international occupational safety and health conference was held on 15 November in Tallinn where Estonian, Norwegian, OECD, and European experts discussed occupational health in a reformed working environment.

The conference organised by the Labour Inspectorate focused on occupational health issues in circumstances where technology and new labour market reforms have changed working conditions. Maret Maripuu, Director General of the Labour Inspectorate, stressed in her opening speech that the occupational health system must be based on specific needs of both the working environment and the worker. ‘The health of working-age people depends to a large extent on how well occupational health supports the individual’s health. It is up to us whether we are going to retire posthumously or whether we can significantly reduce these risks,’ Maripuu says.

Dr. Tim Carter, the key speaker of the conference and professor at the Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine and at Haukeland University Hospital, focused on the future of occupational health in a changed working environment as well as on the need to concentrate on reducing the risks rather than on handling the aftermath of accidents. Veerle Miranda from OECD and Julia Flintrop from European Agency for Safety and Health at Work spoke about new health risks at work.

The afternoon was dedicated to discussing topics related to Estonia. Marina Järvis from Tallinn University of Technology presented an overview of the current occupational health situation in Estonian companies. The presentation was followed by a debate entitled ‘Who is accountable for occupational health?’. The debate was attended by Dr. Viktor Vassiljev, member of the Social Affairs Committee of Riigikogu, Toomas Põld, general practitioner at Qvalitas Arstikeskus AS, Vahur Roosaar, Chair of the Management Board of AS Wendre and Peep Peterson, Chair of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation.

The conference was funded by the European Social Fund.