On Labor Day, we invite you to join WorkCare in deep reflection on the importance of protecting and promoting the health of the employees we depend on to sustain our businesses, families and communities across the country.
We are currently experiencing – and anticipating a growing emphasis on – the implementation of Total Worker Health programs.that address physical and mental health aspects of employee fitness on and off the job. In essence, the customary pledge to send employees home in the same condition in which they arrived at work is undergoing re-examination.
Employees who are tired, have chronic diseases, are depressed or anxious, have drug and alcohol addictions, or who are in pain tend to be less productive and have higher rates of accidents and injuries than those who are not. Conversely, those who make healthy lifestyle choices such as getting regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, sleeping seven to nine hours a night, and not smoking benefit from being in a workplace that supports their goals. Consequently, the “whole person” approach to employee health management is gaining momentum.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health promote programs that combine health protection with health promotion. An understanding of both physical and mental health aspects of health and how to best manage them is required.
We believe astute employers will be investing in technological solutions, including artificial intelligence, to help identify and mitigate injury and illness risk to control their costs while improving quality of life for employees. Primary, secondary and tertiary interventions that span the care continuum can be customized to meet specific needs, such as those of older employees or people with chronic diseases or pain that impairs function.
The goal is to reduce exposure risk and protect employees from harm with effective preventive strategies. When an injury or illness occurs, it’s important to intervene in a way that decreases the likelihood of an individual getting sucked into the vortex of avoidable disability.
Work-related disability is often not medically justified, yet it is a relatively frequent occurrence. Unnecessary lost work time costs employers millions of dollars each year while simultaneously setting workers back financially, socially, psychologically and physically.
The evidence clearly shows that most injured employees get better faster if they keep working through their recovery period. Data show that injured or ill employees who never lose time from work have better long-term outcomes than those who do. For those who miss work, the odds for a return to full employment after six months of absence because of a work-related disability are less than 50 percent.
The fast-paced, rapidly changing workplace presents a complex set of demands that requires employers to take innovative approaches to employee health management in conjunction with proven environment, health and safety (EH&S) programs.
Employers have the power to promote healthy lifestyle choices and influence change in human behavior. In the workplace, there are daily opportunities to educate and incentivize employees in ways that encourage them to take responsibility for their own health. To engage and empower employees as health care consumers, experts say employers must implement innovative technology and communication strategies that interface seamlessly with vendor resources across the care continuum.