The health and safety of employees should be a top priority for business owners and HR personnel alike. Healthy employees are more engaged and productive and have a higher morale. They are less likely to be absent from work and have a lower risk of onsite injuries.
Employers can take simple steps to help motivate their employees to stay healthy at home and on the job, with the added benefit of boosting the impact of their benefits programs.
In any company, effective communication is critical to effective management. Managing the health and safety of employees is no different. Emphasize the importance of linking personal health and workplace safety through newsletters, emails and other corporate communications. Hold regular meetings and explain to employees that their health and wellness matters to the company. Drug and Alcohol Programs
Substance abuse should be a concern for every employer, as the statistics speak for themselves. Alcoholics and problem drinkers are absent from work 3.8 to 8.3 times more often than social drinkers, and drug users are absent from work about five days per month. When substance abusers do show up to work, they are 33 percent less productive than their sober colleagues, and are responsible for up to 50 percent of all workers’ compensation claims, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance
. In addition, alcohol-related problems cost American businesses an estimated $134 billion in productivity losses annually. That’s a pretty hefty cost.
Employers should educate their workforce on what alcohol and drug abuse could mean to coworkers, customers, family members and the company as a whole. Substance-abusing employees are 3.6 times more likely to be injured at work than non-using coworkers. In addition, 4.6 percent of full-time workers ages 18 to 49 who reported current illicit drug use were fired in the past year, in comparison to 1.4 percent of their non-abusers. Employers need to educate their employees on the physical and financial risks for substance abusers and implement safety programs that will apply to them on and off the job. Stretch and Flex Programs
Soft tissue injury is a major loss area for every type of industry, particularly construction, manufacturing and health care. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
, sprains and strains (most often involving the back) accounted for 41 percent of injuries and illnesses resulting in absence from work. That percentage can be greatly reduced with proper physical conditioning programs.
A trend in these programs is onsite stretching prior to a work shift. The program encourages simple 10-minute stretching and often is combined with morning safety talks. Useful in prevention and treatment of soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains, stretch and flex programs have a myriad of physical and mental effects that can benefit employees outside of their workday activities. In addition to enhancing balance, coordination and circulation, stretching increases flexibility, which directly translates into reduced risk of injuries. Stretching also relaxes tense muscles that often accompany stress. Educate and Implement
Contractors must identify health and safety risks for employees and implement effective programs to manage the risks that could weaken their workforce. But caring about the health of employees isn’t always enough; companies also need to motivate workers to care about their own health. Educate them by explaining the risks, implementing programs that reduce those risks and showing them how those programs can be applicable at home. Once employees realize their employers sincerely care, they might start to care more too.