Occupational health service (OHS) for small-scale enterprises (SSEs) is still limited in many countries. Both Japan and the Netherlands have universal OHS systems for all employees. The objective of this survey was to examine the activities of occupational physicians (OPs) in the two countries for SSEs and to investigate their proposals for the improvement of service.
Questionnaires on types and sizes of the industries they serve, allocation of service hours (current and desired), sources of information for occupational health activities etc. were mailed in 2006 to 461 and 335 Japanese and Dutch OPs, respectively, who have served in small- and medium-scale enterprises. In practice, 107 Japanese (23%) and 106 Dutch physicians (32%) replied, respectively.
Results and Conclusions
Total service time per month was longer for OPs in the Netherlands than OPs in Japan. Japanese OPs spent more hours for health and safety meetings, worksite rounds, and prevention of overwork-induced ill health (14–16% each). Dutch OPs used much more hours for the guidance of absent workers (48%). Thus, service conditions were not the same for OPs in the two countries. Nevertheless, both groups of OPs unanimously considered that employers are the key persons for the improvement of OHS especially in SSEs and their education is important for better OHS. The conclusions should be taken as preliminary, however, due to study limitations including low response rates in both groups of physicians.