2. Health promotion scheme: “Fit and in service”


2. Health promotion scheme: “Fit and in service”

   Prison Service Occupational Medicine Clinic in Szczecin run by the Regional Prison Service Inspectorate in Szczecin



The Prison Service Occupational Medicine Clinic in Szczecin developed a preventive scheme called “Fit and in service” designed for every new officer. The scheme is aimed at providing officers with basic health management skills from the start till the end of their service. It covers workshops conducted by occupational medicine specialists and psychologists.


The company

The Prison Service Occupational Medicine Clinic in Szczecin is run by the Regional Prison Service Inspectorate in Szczecin. It provides preventive healthcare services to officers and employees from 10 organisational units (detention centres, prisons) in the Szczecin area.

Officers are covered by preventive medical examinations and pro-health education, and their work places are visited by occupational health personnel working in cooperation with OSH specialists.


The issue

Prison Service (PS) officers and employees work in specific conditions and are exposed to various work-related physical and psychosocial strains. Yet, occupational exposures related to psychosocial factors are very hard to eliminate from the workplace as they are inherent to the PS.

Additionally, a significant reduction of retirement privileges for this professional group will result in an ageing workforce of the PS, the nature of which significantly reduces the possibility of adjusting the position to the employee’s age. Therefore, the development of health-promoting behaviours and advocating for a healthy lifestyle among officers is important to maintain occupational health standards and provide good working conditions.


Action taken

Given the above, the PS Occupational Medicine Clinic in Szczecin developed a preventive scheme called “Fit and in service”, which covers all PS new officers in the period of their preparatory service that usually includes the first two years.

The scheme aims at an effective management of OSH in the workplace, building health-promoting behaviours and personal resources that contribute to wellbeing, reduce the likelihood of work-related disorders and diseases. It aims to develop coping skills, which may indirectly reduce the incidence of stress-related diseases, and improve physical fitness.


Participants attend a workshop conducted by occupational medicine specialists and psychologists specialising in psychosomatics, somatopsychology and occupational psychology. The theory and practice presented refers to occupational risk factors and their relation to health. Particular attention is paid to psychosocial risks and their relation to the manner and quality of performing one’s duties. Participants receive information regarding psychophysiology of stress, risk factors, hypertension prevention, proper forms of gymnastics to maintain posture, ergonomics in the workplace, healthy diet. Also, there are special recommendations for shift work, which may disturb biological rhythms and thus lead to poor health. Officers take part in exercise and breathing sessions, active muscular relaxation and visualisation, and learn constructive techniques for coping with difficult professional situations. They are provided with the latest data on the relationship between health-promoting behaviours and reduction of psychosomatic symptoms and improvement of mental and physical wellbeing.

Implementation of the “Fit and in service” scheme was preceded by gathering feedback from PS officers on the forms of support they expect as part of prophylactic efforts. The feedback indicated a need to develop knowledge and skills related to health, with a focus on occupational stress, with the health awareness being built from the first days of service.


     Prevention and promotion of mental health

Psychological and medical help is offered to officers and employees of the PS as part of interventions after events that are a source of severe stress. Psycho-individual education is also available, and psychological examinations and consultations are carried out in the field of occupational examinations. There are workshops organized in the field of medical aspects of maintaining health and a healthy lifestyle, as well as psychological workshops developing and improving communication as well as stress management skills.


     Workplace visits

Visits include, among others, checking the principles of ergonomics and knowledge of exposure types related to a given job position, checking the safety measures or knowledge of the post-exposure procedure. During the visit, officers and employees are informed about their rights concerning working conditions and receive informational materials on health in the workplace and service. A post-visit report with recommendations aimed at eliminating threats related to occupational risk is passed to the unit manager.


     Health-oriented programs

Special pro-health programs have been prepared for various groups of employees. The "Health in Management" program intended for the management staff covers issues of managerial stress, stress management at the workplace, communication skills, team building, as well as medical aspects of maintaining health. In turn, the program "Dignity and respect" deals with issues concerning psychosocial risks. The "Free yourself from addiction" program is about coping with an addiction to smoking cigarettes. A workshop "On the art of coping with stress" was also implemented for officers in the constant service.


Results achieved

As a result of the actions taken, there has been an increase in knowledge and pro-health awareness declared by officers (during preventive examinations) and motivation to practise pro-health behaviours; there has also been an improvement in their general well-being.

Access to educational materials in the field of health promotion as well as infrastructure that simplifies physical activity was facilitated.

The atmosphere in the workplace has been improved.

There was an increase in the management awareness in the field of employees’ protection from the negative effects of occupational risk.