It is widely accepted that lifestyle choices such as poor eating habits, smoking, alcohol and drug use are key medical cost drivers. Simply put, healthier people are less likely to have a Workers’ Comp claim and will recover more quickly when they do. A 2009 study in the Journal of Occupational Medicine noted, “…targeted workplace interventions may provide opportunities to reduce not only the risk of disease associated with working conditions but also the risk of workplace injury.” If a wellness program identifies medical risks, teaches employees how to manage their risks and keeps them on track, Workers’ Comp savings will follow.
via WORKCOMP ADV!SORY.
The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
The employer will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (e.g., independent contractors or customers on the premises), if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.
In a drug-free workplace, the employer has taken steps and initiated policies to ensure that employees, vendors, and customers are not:
- taking or using alcohol or drugs,
- selling drugs, or
- affected by the after effects of indulging in alcohol or drugs outside of the workplace during non-work time.
Additionally, the goal of a drug-free workplace program, as they have traditionally been developed, is to encourage an employee with a substance abuse problem to seek treatment, recover, and return to work.
via Develop a Drug-free Workplace – Drug Testing in the Workplace.
How do you sell a behavioral safety program to management? Keep these few pointers in mind.
- Partner with someone in Accounting or Finance to build the financial case for implementing a behavioral safety program. Use the terminology of investment.
- Stress behavioral safety is an investment, not a cost. Show how the commitment of resources can earn the company financial returns or gain future benefits or advantages.
- To help with number two, get current/past cost data on workers’ compensation and follow the ROI guidelines of your organization. Project investment returns by using direct and indirect costs.
- Stress that behavioral safety helps contribute to fewer lost time incidents and workers’ compensation (WC) claims, lower WC premiums and admin costs, higher employee morale, a better reputation and more.
via DuPont™ STOP™ Behavioral Safety Program.
Stress sets off an alarm in the brain, which responds by preparing the body for defensive action. The nervous system is aroused and hormones are released to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tense the muscles. This response (sometimes called the fight or flight response) is important because it helps us defend against threatening situations. The response is preprogrammed biologically. Everyone responds in much the same way, regardless of whether the stressful situation is at work or home.
Short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations go unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of activation, which increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results, and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself can become seriously compromised. As a result, the risk of injury or disease escalates.
In the past 20 years, many studies have looked at the relationship between job stress and a variety of ailments. Mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family and friends are examples of stress-related problems that are quick to develop and are commonly seen in these studies. These early signs of job stress are usually easy to recognize. But the effects of job stress on chronic diseases are more difficult to see because chronic diseases take a long time to develop and can be influenced by many factors other than stress. Nonetheless, evidence is rapidly accumulating to suggest that stress plays an important role in several types of chronic health problems-especially cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders.
Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.
-Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
via CDC – NIOSH Publications and Products – STRESS…At Work (99-101).
When developing a risk management plan for your HR activities, there are a number of areas to focus on. This general list will get you started but it is very important that all organizations identify and evaluate the risks unique to their own organization.
HR Activity Potential Risk Area’s
- Compensation and benefits
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Employee supervision
- Employee conduct
- Exiting employee
via Risk Management in HR | HR Planning | HR Toolkit | hrcouncil.ca.
What physical changes occur, in general, as a person ages… and how can this affect their work?
Our bodies change as we age. People reach full physical maturity or development at around the age of 25 years. Then after a period of relative stability, our bodies begin to show signs of aging. Most of these changes are first noticed at ages 40 or 50, but changes can occur (or start) as early as 20 or 25. These changes include:
- Maximum muscular strength and range of joint movement: In general, people lose 15 to 20% of their strength from the ages of 20 to 60. However, every person is different and there is a large range between individuals. However, most jobs do not require a person to use all their strength. Older employees may be able to perform the same tasks as a younger worker, but they may be working closer to their maximum level. The musculoskeletal system weakens over time, resulting in a decreased capacity for load-bearing work. Keep in mind that, for example, highly repetitive motions — doing the same thing, over and over again — can cause physical problems at any age.
- As we age, the body loses some ‘range of motion’ and flexibility. People may be used to certain range of movements at one task or workstation. Being less flexible or able to reach could cause problems in some unpredictable situations that require unusual movements.
- Cardiovascular and respiratory systems: The ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to carry oxygen decreases. Between the age of 30 and 65, the functional breathing capacity can reduce by 40%. These changes can affect the ability to do extended heavy physical labour, reduce the body’s ability to adjust to hot and cold conditions.
- Regulation of posture and balance: In general people may find it harder to maintain good posture and balance. When seated or standing still, this may not be a problem. However, accidents that happen because someone loses their balance do happen more often with age. Work that requires precise adjustments, strong muscular effort (including lifting and carrying), joint movements at extreme angles, or those done on a slippery or unstable surface, will be affected by poorer posture. Unexpected bumps or shocks may cause a more serious problem than with a younger worker.
- Sleep Regulation: As we age, our body is not able to regulate sleep as well as it used to. How long a person sleeps, and how well they sleep, can additionally be disrupted by changing work hours or by light and noise. The impact on employees is especially a concern for older shift or night workers. They might need more recovery time between shifts or extended workdays. Use of shift rotations that are the least disruptive to sleep patterns are preferred.
- Thermoregulation (Body Temperature): Our bodies are less able to maintain internal temperatures as well as less able to adjust to changes in external temperature or due to physical activity. This change means that older workers may find heat or cold more difficult to deal with than when they were younger. It also means that if they are doing hard manual labour, they may get overheated more easily.
- Vision: Vision changes with age. We will notice we cannot see or read from certain distances as well as we used to. This reduction in the “amplitude of accommodation” (the ability to see or adjust focus in certain distance ranges) is normally corrected with prescription glasses. Changes also occur in the peripheral visual field (how well you can see in the areas to the side of you, that you’re not directly looking at), visual acuity (how exact, clear, and “unfuzzy” things appear), depth perception (how far away things seem), and resistance to glare, and light transmission. These changes are normally not noticed by a person unless there is poor lighting or there are sources of glare. Someone might also notice that they can’t see as well when they’re reading something when text size is small, or when there is poor contrast between the text and the background. Brighter lighting (that is suitable for the task) and well laid-out documents which avoid small print are important.
- Auditory (Hearing): Hearing also changes. We may not be able to hear as well at higher frequencies (high pitch sounds). Most often, this change is noticed as the inability to listen to a particular voice or sound in a noisy environment. As well, people who work with a lot of background or noise may have difficulty hearing verbal instructions.
via Aging Workers : OSH Answers.
Early Warning Signs of Job Stress
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Short temper
- Upset stomach
- Job dissatisfaction
- Low morale
Job Stress and Health: What the Research Tells Us
- Cardiovascular Disease: Many studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders: On the basis of research by NIOSH and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper- extremity musculoskeletal disorders.
- Psychological Disorders: Several studies suggest that differences in rates of mental health problems (such as depression and burnout) for various occupations are due partly to differences in job stress levels. (Economic and lifestyle differences between occupations may also contribute to some of these problems.)
- Workplace Injury: Although more study is needed, there is a growing concern that stressful working conditions interfere with safe work practices and set the stage for injuries at work.
- Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired Immune Function: Some studies suggest a relationship between stressful working conditions and these health problems. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
via CDC – NIOSH Publications and Products – STRESS…At Work (99-101).
So here’s the game plan for HR:
- Get educated! The books are there. The exemplars are there. The studies showing the ongoing declines are publicly available. The firms who are succeeding are known. The ship you are on is sinking. Find out why. Learn what it takes to change.
- Circulate the books to the C-suite: You don’t have to make the arguments yourself. Simply pass around the books that make the case for you.
- Change your name! I often ask HR people why they accept a name like Human Resources which implies that people are things to be exploited, rather than a name that endorses that people are actually people. They usually reply that the name doesn’t really matter if they do the right thing. My response is: if the Finance Department was called the Fraud Department, would that help or hinder their work? Having a name that says the opposite of the meaning of the function is an impediment that has to be removed.
- Develop a game plan! Be able to answer these questions, even if the C-Suite can’t: Who is your company’s core customer? Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face? Who is the competition? What do they do well and not well? And most important, who are we? What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?
- Find champions: You are not going to do this alone. You are helping foment a necessary revolution. You need collaborators. They exist! In any large organization, there always enterprising managers who have seen the future and are already making it happen, even though they may be currently seen as rebels and troublemakers who don’t accept the current dispiriting culture. They are waiting to hear from you!
- Find pilot projects: Look around the organization. Look for managers who are already practicing Scrum and Agile in the IT department. Look for managers practicing Lean. Look for any managers who are using the Net Promoter Score. These are your potential pilot projects which will show the way forward.
- Get your ammunition ready: In any organization, for most of the time, the possibility of a fundamental discussion about how the organization is run is simply not possible. For most of the time, the door is closed. But every so often, particularly in firms that are struggling, the door opens briefly: the C-suite becomes so desperate with being on a failing track that the possibility of raising fundamental issues becomes possible, even briefly. Be ready then with your arguments:
via How Strategic HR Wins The Keys To The C-Suite – Forbes.
While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and impact your physical and emotional health. And your ability to deal with it can mean the difference between success or failure. You can’t control everything in your work environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless—even when you’re stuck in a difficult situation. Finding ways to manage workplace stress isn’t about making huge changes or rethinking career ambitions, but rather about focusing on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.
via Stress at Work: How to Reduce and Manage Workplace and Job Stress.