Health Care and Human Resources

An integrated approach to workplace health and safety

April 6, 2017
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Employee health has been shown to improve the effectiveness of occupational health and safety programs, which in turn increases an employee’s willingness to change behaviors.

You need your employees to be safe on the job, as well as physically and emotionally healthy to perform the job. Your employees’ personal health and personal safety directly impact their productivity, their co-workers and ultimately your bottom line.

Safety programs are mandated by OSHA, while wellness programs are a choice. So, what is the benefit of integrating the two?

Studies conducted by the Society of Human Resources show the top business priorities influenced by employees’ health, stemming from wellness programs, include:

  • 62 percent of respondents believe productivity is directly linked
  • 60 percent of respondents believe performance is directly linked
  • 41 percent of respondents believe employee engagement and morale are directly linked
  • 30 percent of respondents believe benefits-cost reduction is directly linked
  • 29 percent of respondents believe safety is directly linked

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, there are many overlaps between worker safety and health promotion, especially for work that is strenuous and repetitive and for which being in good physical shape is essential. For example, obesity is one of the major contributors to back injuries. There are also numerous links between workplace stress and work-related illness because stress contributes to high blood pressure, which can result in poor decision-making and increased errors. Inadequate sleep and fatigue also directly reduce concentration and the ability to work safely, even for employees in non-physical jobs.

Here are a few tips on integrating wellness and safety:

  • Reduce stress in the workplace by providing stress management education. Insecurity on the job, long hours, heavy workload and poor communication can lead to stress and tension on the job.
  • Teach proper technique by implementing an industrial stretching program. When it comes to lifting, bending and running machinery, proper usage will keep employees safe.
  • Reward positive behavior. When you witness employees ensuring safety of themselves and others by making positive changes in their life, they can positively impact the workplace.
  • Ongoing training. Remind staff regularly about proper usage of tools and machinery. Habits can be hard to break, especially bad ones.

The point of a wellness program is to educate, monitor and provide solutions for employees to become healthier, both physically and mentally. Workplace wellness connects occupation and lifestyle, which directly impacts their safety on the job.

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