Occupational diseases are posing an ever-increasing challenge to workers' compensation systems. The vast majority of all occupational claims are due to work-related diseases.
Occupational safety and health policy is shifting from an injury- and accident-centred approach to one that is increasingly focused on occupational diseases.
To effectively address occupational diseases, many social security organizations responsible for insuring and compensating these risks are adopting a more proactive approach. This approach can best be described as "prevention is better than cure and compensation".
In addition, occupational accident and diseases insurance is increasingly recognized as being not just a compensation system but also a tool of employment policy and vocational rehabilitation, and a means of supporting social cohesion and economic growth. This new approach gives social security organizations that administer occupational risk insurance a new role with two prevention components:
- the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases;
- the prevention of unemployment through long-term sick leave of people who have suffered an occupational accident, by introducing rehabilitation and return to work measures.
Social security institutions that promote employment and support higher activity rates increasingly include return to work, rehabilitation and reintegration measures into their client services.