Thursday, March 10, 2011

WorkHealthy™

What comes to mind when you hear the term – WorkHealthy™?

For some it means the opportunity to work in an environment that will not make them sick. For others, it means being protected from the effects of chemicals and other hazards with proper PPE. And still a few will say it means ensuring the health and safety of each employee by any means necessary. And they would all be correct. What we’ll uncover today is another answer; one that involves making healthy choices that can impact and affect safety as a whole – as a culture. It’s called WorkHealthy™.

The following is Part 1 of a 3 part webinar sponsored by Accuform Signs. If you'd like to watch the video, in either .wmv or .mov format, get the powerpoint, read the transcript, or hear the mp3, go to www.accuform.com/webinars. You can also listen to the podcast on iTunes.

Part 1: What is a WorkHealthy™ Environment?
Every day you work hard to promote a safe workplace – but what about promoting a healthy one? While studies are few, and data is sparse, the weight of the evidence links both stress and illness with workplace injury. And it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be overlooked. NIOSH calls for more research, yet cites “growing concern” that stress can lead to incidents by interfering with safe work practices. In a recent survey of nurses conducted by the American Nurses Association, 80% said on-the-job stress levels impact workplace safety, and 59% of nurses said when they feel pressured they are more inclined to work faster and take shortcuts. We believe it’s safe to assume that this is likely the case in the industrial world as well. Accident levels can go up dramatically when stress climbs.

Workplace wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular. More and more companies are developing programs to provide resources for the health and well being of their workers including full-time staff, temporary workers and on-site contractors.

Companies who have instilled a culture of safety are also implementing ways that employees throughout the entire facility can participate in wellness activities. Healthy activities and education programs within the workplace provide employees with the capacity to achieve greater levels of performance. From this focus on wellness, workers can strengthen themselves physically, mentally and emotionally.

Research shows chronic diseases are on the rise and can attribute significantly to the cost of health care. Health management initiatives, including workplace health and wellness programs, help employees live healthier, energetic and more productive lives, at the same time improving your bottom line through increased productivity and reduced costs.

Improving our everyday lifestyle habits and practices is the best way to stay healthy, have more energy, handle stress, manage conflict, build collaboration and teamwork – and get better results.

In today’s challenging times, taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other are more important than ever.

WorkHealthy™ in the workplace leads to being resilient in the face of constant change – developing a program creates sustainability, for each individual and for the company as a whole.

Education programs and health fairs can inform and motivate employees to make healthy choices. For some, making a healthy choice is easy. But for others, this can be very difficult. Temptations and vices are not habits easily cast to the side. Poor eating habits, smoking and lack of exercise can have serious complications in the long run leading to the increase risk of stroke or heart attack. It’s scary to think about.

Choosing to work safely goes beyond simply getting the ladder out when it’s time to change a light bulb. Instead of taking shortcuts like standing on the chair that’s balanced on the table – it means making positive changes happen inside our bodies too.

So where do you start? Seeing a doctor is one way; participating in a company-wide health fair is another. Making the healthy choice is not easy; it’s important to support people who are making life-changing choices to be at their best – living – learning – working.

And this is not something to tackle alone. It’s being able to provide motivational support in the workplace.

We can create the supportive environment if we do it together.

I just received the March issue of Safety & Health Magazine published by the National Safety Council. The front page cover story is all about Stress in the Workplace. It’s interesting to note that the author, Lauretta Claussen, points out why keeping stress in check could create a healthier and safer workplace. In her article, Ms. Claussen references a 2008 study that found people with severe levels of job stress had a 68% higher risk of developing heart disease. Another study by the American Institute of Stress determined that stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion dollars annually.

A WorkHealthy™ program aims at helping your overall employee health and wellness – while also improving teamwork and business growth.

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