Preventive Measure Against Tuberculosis in the Workplace

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant global health threat, and the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by this disease. Despite advancements in medical treatment, TB continues to be a leading cause of mortality with approximately 1 million Filipinos affected and nearly 70 lives lost daily.

The absence of early prevention and diagnosis can have adverse effects economic activities, leading to workflow disruption, reduced productivity, and increased direct costs. TB has been estimated to cost US$ 12 billion annually due to a decreased worker productivity. Recognizing the urgency of addressing TB in the workplace is crucial to safeguard the health and well-being of employees and ensure economic stability.

Strengthening workplace TB programs is imperative to mitigate the burden of TB in the Philippines and protect the health and productivity of the workforce.

Here are some tips to protect the workplace from TB:

  • Develop preventive strategies: Government agencies, local government units (LGUs), and companies should collaborate to create and implement TB programs. These programs should provide education and training to company staff on information about TB, including its transmission, prevalence, treatment, and how to control and manage it at work. Prevention tips should also be provided, such as boosting the immune system, including chest x-rays in the annual physical examination (APE), enforcing health declarations, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Equipping employees with this knowledge enables them to handle the situation effectively when it arises.

  • Remove the stigma: Fear of discrimination can mean individuals with TB symptoms to delay seeking help, increasing the likelihood of severe illness and further infection. The education program should include anti-discriminatory training for all employees. Those diagnosed with TB should not face discrimination but should receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. As long as their doctor confirms their health, they can continue working without any prejudice. Once they have recovered, they can return to work without discrimination.

  • Positive case management: In case of suspected infection in the workplace, employees showing signs of TB should seek help from the company’s healthcare provider. Similarly, individuals at risk, such as those with relatives diagnosed with TB, should also seek medical attention promptly. If a diagnosis of TB is confirmed, employers should report the case to the Department of Labor and Employment. Employers are also encouraged to support workers with TB by making necessary adjustments to assist them at work, such as flexible leave arrangements, modified work schedules, or facilitating their return to work. Employees should be referred to medical services for diagnosis and treatment, as well as arrange access to the nearest treatment center. It is crucial for employees to comply with their prescribed treatment after diagnosis.

Addressing TB comprehensively requires a holistic approach, including effective preventive measures and prompt action in suspected cases. Proactively addressing tuberculosis is the best way to protect yourself and your team. By being aware, prioritizing prevention, and ensuring early detection, we empower ourselves to effectively combat this disease.

Reach out to our Lockton People Solutions teams for more information:

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