Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries.
Pertussis whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated. Pertussis vaccines are recommended for children, teens, and adults, including pregnant women. Pertussis whooping cough is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 25% of the workforce will be over 55 in 2020. That’s one in four workers — up from one in every five workers just two years ago. Why? In addition to Boomers, the elimination of mandatory retirement and the enactment of age discrimination laws accounts for some of this trend. Better life expectancy and health is partly responsible. And for most, early retirement is largely a thing of the past. Many workers now choose to or must remain in the workforce longer than they had originally planned.
The good news is that a well-designed workplace with positive policies and programs to optimize the health of aging workers benefits everyone. When work stations and job tasks are matched to the capacity of each worker, younger or older, everyone benefits. When workplace flexibility is maximized, when work is organized with personal health and well-being principles in mind, and when workplace policies consistently are viewed through their health effects on workers, employers and workers both win. This is also a way for employers to exercise excellent foresight to support ongoing organizational health for their companies and indeed for the U.S. economy, as well as the individual worker’s well-being. By preventing stresses or injuries that, over time, can have cumulative negative effects on a worker’s ability to work safely and productively, an employer can help assure that the U.S. continues to have a capable, experienced workforce.
Many effective workplace solutions are simple, don’t have to cost very much, and can have large benefits if implemented properly with worker input and support throughout all levels of management. Below are strategies for preparing your workplace for an older and healthier, safer workforce. Consider putting these in place today.
- Prioritize workplace flexibility. Workers prefer jobs that offer more flexibility over those that offer more vacation days. To the extent possible, give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location and work tasks.
- Match tasks to abilities. Use self-paced work, self-directed rest breaks and less repetitive tasks
- Avoid prolonged, sedentary work – it’s bad for workers at every age. Consider sit/stand workstations and walking workstations for workers who traditionally sit all day. Provide onsite physical activity opportunities or connections to low-cost community options.
- Manage noise hazards (including excess background noise), slip/trip hazards, and physical hazards, conditions that can challenge an aging workforce more.
- Provide ergo-friendly work environments — workstations, tools, floor surfaces, adjustable seating, better illumination where needed, and screens and surfaces with less glare.
- Utilize teams and teamwork strategies for aging-associated problem solving. Workers closest to the problem are often best equipped to find the fix.
- Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions including physical activity, healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, risk factor reduction and screenings, coaching, and onsite medical care. Accommodate medical self-care in the workplace and time away for health visits.
- Invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels. Help older employees adapt to new technologies, often a concern for employers and older workers.
- Proactively manage reasonable accommodations and the return-to-work process after illness or injury absences.
- Require aging workforce management skills training for supervisors. Include a focus on the most effective ways to manage a multi-generational workplace.
Since it’s beginning in 1948, the Framingham Heart Study, under the direction of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), has been committed to identifying the common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD). They have followed CVD development over a long period of time in three generations of participants.
Here are the Coronary Heart Disease Predictors:
- JNC-V blood pressure categories
- NCEP total cholesterol categories
- LDL cholesterol categories
Click on the link below to calculate your risk of coronary heart disease.
BJ Fogg founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University designed a behavior model to serve as a guide to identify what stops people from performing desirable behaviors. The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur:
When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.
When designing health and safety processes it’s important to include all three elements to drive desired behavior change. To be successful you need participation, education and encouragement built into the process.
Workplace health programs can increase productivity
In general, healthier employees are more productive.
- Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick or use vacation time due to illness
- Companies that support workplace health have a greater percentage of employees at work every day
- Because employee health frequently carries over into better health behavior that impact both the employee and their family (such as nutritious meals cooked at home or increased physical activity with the family), employees may miss less work caring for ill family members as well
- Similarly, workplace health programs can reduce presenteeism — the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions, and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work
The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against absenteeism among employees, reduced overtime to cover absent employees, and costs to train replacement employees.
Doing more with less by employing “lean thinking.” Lean manufacturing involves never ending efforts to eliminate or reduce ‘muda” (Japanese for waste or any activity that consumes resources without adding value) in design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service processes.
So what’s “beyond lean” or the “next lean”. I have found that applying “lean” thinking to employee health and productivity eliminates waste in the cost of health care, work comp, absenteeism and presenteeism (at work but not productive). To be successful you need a process or road map. The process is the five steps of risk management. They are:
- Identify Risk
- Analyze Data
- Control Risk
- Finance Risk
- Measure Results
Don’t make the mistake of thinking insurance is risk management. Insurance is not risk management; in fact it is the 4th step of the process. Skipping (or poor execution of) the first 3 steps leads the waste (higher cost) and poor results in step 5.
Payroll, Benefits and Work Comp are typically the highest cost a business has yet in many cases this area is often overlooked for waste.
A positive wellness culture in the workplace contributes to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of workers. The workplace becomes more productive and constructive when employers integrate breaks for rejuvenation. It also helps to establish clear and reasonable roles and responsibilities and respect the time and talents of individuals and their non-work demands. These steps provide the organization with more opportunity to reduce the number of sick days and health-associated costs. Are you working to make your office a healthy place for yourself and your colleagues?
Worksite Wellness at a Glance
- Helps employees take responsibility for lifestyle choices
- Educates workforce about hazards and opportunities for wellness
- Enhances employee productivity
- Reduces absences and idleness
- Reduces health care costs
- Shifts health care paradigm from treatment to prevention
- Establish programs for exercise during the workday
- Implement a no-smoking policy and provide resources for tobacco cessation
- Allow flexible work schedules and telecommuting
- Encourage personnel to take the stairs
- Select worksites close to public transportation, walking trails, fitness facilities, and other amenities
- The total reward for all the plan’s wellness programs that require satisfaction of a standard related to a health factor is limited – generally, it must not exceed 20 percent of the cost of employee-only coverage under the plan. If dependents (such as spouses and/or dependent children) may participate in the wellness program, the reward must not exceed 20 percent of the cost of the coverage in which an employee and any dependents are enrolled.
- The program must be reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease.
- The program must give individuals eligible to participate the opportunity to qualify for the reward at least once per year.
- The reward must be available to all similarly situated individuals. The program must allow a reasonable alternative standard (or waiver of initial standard) for obtaining the reward to any individual for whom it is unreasonably difficult due to a medical condition, or medically inadvisable, to satisfy the initial standard.
- The plan must disclose in all materials describing the terms of the program the availability of a reasonable alternative standard (or the possibility of a waiver of the initial standard).