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What can public health do for the welfare state? Occupational health could be an answer


Background The welfare state has a long history of uncertain future. Nonetheless, health indicators of people living in countries with a more universal and generous welfare state remain better than those living under less generous and more individualist welfare regimes. In this essay, we reflect on how occupational health, as part of public health, can contribute to the sustainability of the welfare state.

Methods Over the course of the political and social transformations of the State, from single guarantor of security to assuming civil and social rights, the practice of public health has added, to its original objectives related to the control of epidemics of contagious diseases, the promotion of health and the reduction of inequalities in health. In the context of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, there is a great opportunity to expand the welfare state through public health policies.

Results On the other hand, the welfare state is only possible when persons are employed in the formal sector. Through their taxes, workers and employers support the welfare state. Occupational health, by preventing injury and illness, and promoting the health of working people, can contribute significantly to the existence of decent work and a quality labour market.

Conclusion The mission of occupational health is to help people enjoy a healthy and prolonged working life, as a critical component of human well-being.

  • employment
  • social epidemiology
  • workplace
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