Posted by: Populytics
Date: November 19, 2018
What happens when you get environmental health and safety managers from a varied cross-section of regional businesses together in one room? You get ideas, innovation, and momentum! That was the case at Knoll, the East Greenville, Pa. furniture manufacturing company that hosted the 9th annual 2018 OSHA Best Practices Workshop in October.
The event was organized by representatives from numerous firms in southeastern Pennsylvania, and was facilitated by Scott G. Shimandle, Compliance Assistance Specialist – Industrial Hygienist at USDOL/OSHA’s Allentown Area Office. Scott kicked off the open forum with a review of the last meeting and related questions, which generated a flood of suggestions, testimonials, and stories about successful health and safety practices at respective businesses.
About halfway through the morning, two board-certified health coaches from Populytics/BeneFIT Corporate Wellness presented “Wellness and Safety – Connecting the Dots to Total Worker Health.” Kacie Heilman Miller, CHWC, ISSA-PT, NBC-HWC, talked about the psychology of behavior change, what it takes to change a company culture, and how to develop a strategic plan for workplace wellness. She relayed a story about one of BeneFIT’s clients and her strategy for implementing behavior change in a non-compliant atmosphere.
“When I first started visiting this company, where a male-dominated employee population worked primarily on a massive number of loading docks, no one would speak to me,” she said. She explained how she went ahead and started a morning stretching program outside on the docks, among the workers. At first, everyone ignored her. She added an incentive to turn the activity into a friendly competition, and that’s finally what caused it to take off. “The employees are still out there today stretching, and they’re not even using an incentive anymore,” she said.
Colleague Tiffany Ritter, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC, CHWC, focused on diet and health, taking the audience through the steps to creating a healthy food stand that will work for any size or type of company. She covered food choices, logistics, and how to get employees engaged, along with operational tips. Kacie finished the presentation with a short stretching session that merged into a lunch break with healthier food options for attendees.
The event underscores recent discussion and news about the value of combining health – both physical and mental – with safety practices because all are interconnected.
Efforts for substantiating a “total health” perspective for better health and cost reduction have been underway nationally for some time. The Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council has done extensive work to bridge safety and health in the workplace. Its studies have confirmed that poor worker health can compromise worker safety. It also shows that wellness can improve it. This belief led to the formation of Total Worker Health®, a national program that merges workplace safety with health promotion. Backed by research evidence, the conclusion is that integrating wellness and employee safety is the most effective way to protect workers.
In regard to mental health, the World Health Organization says our experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining overall well-being. Employers who enact workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances including alcohol, absenteeism, and lost productivity.
The second part of the Best Practices Workshop featured Holly Ehrenfried, OTD OTR/L CHT, Occupational Therapist with HealthWorks, the occupational health arm of Populytics.
In her session, “Injury Prevention: What Works and How Not to Waste Your Money,” she discussed how injuries conceptually occur, and reviewed the top 10 workplace injuries as seen by HealthWorks. Low back pain claimed the top spot. Holly provided statistics surrounding back pain, and explained its impact on the individual and the workplace. The session pinpointed posture and bending positions that create pressure on the lower back and increase chance of injury. She also challenged 10 popular injury prevention ideas and analyzed whether or not they are worthwhile.
Contact us for details on our occupational health services and BeneFIT Corporate Wellness.
Look for more progress toward a holistic approach to employee health coming in 2019 from Populytics. Learn more about data analytics and its role in population and employee health.