Combined Worksite Wellness - Occupational Health and Safety programs
Integrating Wellness and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) have benefits to employees and employers alike. There are proven benefits to incorporate wellness to reduce workplace injuries, which can lead to reduction in disability and workers´ compensation claims. Unfortunately, wellness and occupational health are often managed in silos from separate departments and budgets.1
The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) points out additional benefits for employer’s that integrate both OHS and Wellness into programs:
- “Workers’ risk of disease is increased by exposures to both occupational hazards and risk-related behaviors.
- The workers at highest risk for exposure to hazardous working conditions are also those most likely to engage in risk-related health behaviors.
- Integrating worksite health promotion and occupational health and safety may increase program participation and effectiveness for high-risk workers.
- Integrated occupational health and safety/ worksite health promotion efforts additionally may benefit the broader work organization and environment through increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.”2
The main priority for employers regarding worksite health promotion should be a focus on obesity management.
Importance of tackling obesity:
- A 2007 landmark Duke University analysis found that obese workers:
- Filed twice the number of workers’ comp claims as their counterparts
- Their medical costs were seven times higher
- They missed 13 times more days of work due to their injuries.3
- In 2010, NCCI Holdings Inc. released research that found range of medical treatments and costs as well as duration to be typically is 2 -3 times greater for obese workers than those who are not obese with similar injuries.4
- 28 percent of claims handled by Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. involve workers who are overweight or obese.
- The top six most expensive claims are musculoskeletal, fractures, strains and sprains—46 percent of those claimants are for obese.5
Some of the following health promotion resources can be integrated into Occupational Health and Safety:
- Health Coaches – Coaches can play an integral role in employee wellness and support Occupational Health and Safety programs. They can work with employees on:
- Medication compliance strategies for Occ. Health related injuries
- Ensure they are adhering to their prescribed rehabilitation/exercise programs.
- Address wellness not only on the physical side, but also on social and emotional health such as coping and stress management, which makes it more likely that employees stay safe and injury-free while on the job.
- Address obesity, the number one cause of worksite related musculoskeletal injuries
- Wellness Programs – Health screenings and workshops are an important resource for employers’ wellness programs, which can also ensure employees continuously pass their DOT and OSHA requirements.
- Industries such as transportation, manufacturing, and construction require specific health parameters to pass their exams and fit for duty requirements.
- Workers have the chance to identify areas of concern and to learn how to better manage their conditions and make lasting lifestyle changes.6
- Onsite clinics or Telemedicine “Virtual” Clinics – They can provide an array of services besides acute care including primary care, specialty care, physical therapy, Registered Dietitian counseling, and Health Coaching services. These “clinics” can be built out and staffed more efficiently than a traditional onsite clinic.
The implementation of these health promotion tools allows the employer to increase productivity and maximize their return on invest.
If you`re interested in more information on Wellness and Occupational Health and Safety, check out the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals (NAOHP/ Ryan Associates). There is an article on health coaching in the latest NAOHP fall newsletter 2017 by Stewart Levy “Health Coaching and the Benefits to Occupational Health”.
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(1) Klane, J. How Integrating Your Wellness Program with Your Occupational Health & Safety Program Gains You Benefits. http://www.asse.org/assets/1/7/Jonathan_Klane_Article.pdf (accessed 09/14/17).
(2) NIOSH. The NIOSH Total Worker Health Program: Seminal Research Paper 2012.
(3) Ostbye, T.; Dement, J. M.; Krause, K. M. Obesity and workers’ compensation: Results from the Duke Health and Safety Surveillance System. Archives of internal medicine 2007, 167, 766–773.
(4) NCCI Holdings Inc. HOW OBESITY INCREASES THE RISK OF DISABLING WORKPLACE INJURIES 2010.
(5) Sedwick Claims Management Services Inc. Obesity problems weigh on workers comp. http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20120302/STORY/399999789/Obesity-problems-weigh-on-workers-comp.
(6) NAOHP. VISIONS Fall 2017 Edition 9-6-17: THE PERIODICAL OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS 2017, 27, 1–16.