WHY WELLNESS? How Wellness Programs increase the Efficacy of your Health and Safety Program
Written by Jenn Miller, Curriculum Development Coordinator
WHAT IS A HEALTH AND SAFETY PROGRAM? Chances are that you’ve got a pretty sound health and safety program in place. If you have solid policies supported by a well-administered program, then you are on the path to success. Most health and safety programs share similar components. Yours may include policies for workplace violence and harassment, inspection schedules for machines and equipment, training requirements and schedules, emergency response plans, and fire prevention measures. For most employers, these types of safety items are all that they include in their health and safety programs. It meets minimum legal requirements, operates seamlessly, and passes their annual reviews for effectiveness. The overall goal of a health and safety program is to reduce absenteeism and lost time, reduce health benefit costs, and increase employee productivity.
WHAT IS A WELLNESS PROGRAM? A wellness program is an extension of your workplace health and safety program. It generally involves three primary health issues:
Individual health concerns, such as smoking, obesity, and inactivity
Organization health concerns, such as stress or lack of job satisfaction
Physical work concerns, such as ergonomic stresses and musculoskeletal injury (MSD) prevention
Programs that fall under the wellness umbrella may already be in place at your work. However, they may not be formally recognized as wellness programs. Or, employee wellness programs may not be in practice at your workplace. Regardless, the trend toward wellness programs is gaining momentum, and not without reason! Supporters of wellness programs argue that these types of programs benefit the organization in a variety of ways. A wellness program will increase the efficacy of your health and safety program, and it shares the goal of reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity, and reducing health benefit costs. It’s a perfect complement to your workplace health and safety program!
Let’s Explore How Wellness Programs Improve Health and Safety Programs
and Benefit the Company
Some companies have introduced child care subsidies, company-sponsored child care facilities, or on-site child care. The goal of such a venture would be to attract young parents and reduce the amount of time required to be absent from work due to child-care related issues. Many companies are also introducing elder care programs, or benefits that help employees tend to elder family members’ needs. This is because of the emergence of the “sandwich generation”(1): a generation of employees tasked with the care of their own small children while simultaneously tasked with the exhaustive care of elderly parents. Evidence shows that programs such as child and elder care decreases rates of absenteeism.(2)
In addition to child and elder care benefits, companies that offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to employees also enjoy reduced absenteeism rates(3). EAPs usually consist of counselling or treatment services for problems ranging from mental health, stress, addiction, marital trouble/blended family dynamics, legal issues, and gambling problems. These programs are also especially important for workers dealing with workplace trauma, such as harassment or a workplace incident or injury. Although these sorts of issues are not always directly related to work, they certainly affect workers, and will in turn affect their productivity at work. The purpose of an EAP is to proactively reduce absenteeism and disability costs resulting from employees trying to cope with these problems without support.
Healthy employees are happy, and happy employees are more productive. The benefits reaped from productive employees is invaluable for companies. It only makes sense to implement and maintain a program that increases productivity.
Employees who feel job satisfaction are more productive than those who are dissatisfied or unengaged from their work(4). In one US poll, companies that provided family-friendly benefits such as elder care, child care, and flexible work schedules, received higher job satisfaction ratings than companies that did not offer any type of wellness program.(5)
Increasing the health of employees through smoking cessation programs, nutrition education, and physical activity will all also contribute to employees’ overall job satisfaction levels and productivity rates. In fact, some studies conclude that cigarette smokers are less productive than non-smokers as a result as a result of smoke breaks, and additional sick time costs.(6)
Reduced Health Benefit Costs
Health benefits are a massive expenditure at most companies. Your company may be able to reduce the amount of money being spent on health care benefits by helping employees get active. Some wellness programs include gym memberships, or a credit for a gym membership. Some wellness programs even provide wearable fitness trackers to employees free of charge! Working out is a fantastic way to relieve stress as well, whether it’s work related or not, which may in turn reduce the instances of employees taking stress-related leaves of absence. Many companies are even moving toward installing on-site gym facilities. An active lifestyle can also combat obesity-related health woes and associated costs.
Smoking cessation programs can help employees kick the habit. Helping employees quit reduces health benefit costs in two ways. First, smokers tend to take 2.5 more sick days per year than non-smokers.(7) Second, smokers have an increased risk of developing lung and heart diseases, emphysema, and cancers, increasing the amount of health benefits required should one of your employees develop one of these potentially fatal diseases.
Most wellness programs also feature some sort of MSD-prevention strategy. This could be in the form of performing ergonomic assessments yearly, having physio or massage therapy programs in place, or encouraging an active lifestyle in the workplace by implementing workplace stretching or movement breaks. If your workplace contributes to MSD prevention in some capacity, it will effectively reduce the occurrence of MSDs that cause lost time injuries, thereby reducing the amount spent on health benefits.
WELLNESS WORKS: WELLNESS IS A CONSTANT ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGY Adding a wellness program to your existing health and safety program is a great way to meet the unique and ever-changing needs of your diverse workforce. In a society where everybody’s needs vary vastly, you may start to view a wellness offering as part of your company’s constant recruitment, retention, and internal branding strategy. In fact, it may benefit your overall external brand recognition as well. That being said, it is certainly worth exploring the wellness trend and asking, can I afford not to implement a wellness plan? When you consider the morale increase and loyalty created by such plans, you will likely find yourself embracing the wellness movement, like so many pioneering companies before you.
From September 19 – October 31, 2016
The Ministry of Labour will be conducting a Chemical Handling Blitz. You can prepare for the upcoming blitz by:
Ensuring MSDS and SDS sheets for all chemicals used in your workplace are legible and in an accessible location (1)
Reviewing all MSDS and SDS sheets to ensure they are up to date. If you find that any of your chemicals have MSDS or SDS sheets that are out of date, contact the supplier for a new MSDS or SDS. Update MSDS to SDS using the Globally Harmonized System wherever possible (2)
Ensuring your workers are trained under WHMIS 1988 and/or WHMIS 2015, depending on the pictograms or symbols displayed on the chemical labels in your workplace (3)
Ensuring proper controls such as providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are in place to protect workers against chemical hazards according to the chemical manufacturer guidelines (4)
Ensuring policies and procedures are in place for:
the safe use, storage, handling and disposal of a hazardous product
procedures in case of an emergency involving a hazardous product (5)
The Ministry of Labour will be conducting a zero tolerance/repeat offenders inspection blitz from September 1 – October 31, 2016. Don’t get caught being a repeat offender! Ensure you are complying with the Employment Standards Act by participating in or providing:
Written by Jeff Thorne, Manager of Training and Consulting
WHAT IS A CODE OF PRACTICE, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Many organizations look for additional guidance or material that will assist them with meeting their legal obligations as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
This is where Codes of Practice become important.
A Code of Practice is a practical guide designed to provide guidance on effective ways to manage health and safety risks. The Minister of Labour may approve all or part of a Code of Practice as a way to comply with the law. If the Ministry of Labour (MOL) has approved the code of practice, they will consider compliance with the code to be in compliance with its corresponding legal requirement.
In August 2016, a Code of Practice to address workplace violence and harassment was designed to help employers meet their legal obligations. The Code has four parts; employers may choose to comply with a specific part of the Code, or all sections of the Code.
In order to be deemed in compliance with a specific Part, or all of the code, the employer must adhere to all of the practices outlined under that Part.
Failure to comply with all or part of the Code of Practice may not be a breach of the law, as a Code of Practice is just one way in which employers may meet their legal obligations.
For more information on approved Codes of Practice and where to obtain them, please consult the Ministry of Labour website, or call OSG at 800.815.9980 to speak to a health and safety expert today.
Cold and flu season is upon us – What can YOU do to protect yourself?
Written by Jenna Kressler, Operations Assistant
Unfortunately, cold and flu season is upon us and it lasts until March or April.
The stomach flu (gastroenteritis, also known as the GI tract) and the flu (influenza) are often used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, two different viruses. To clarify, gastroenteritis attacks the intestines, which causes signs and symptoms, such as: diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, and sometimes muscle aches or headaches. Influenza, on the other hand, attacks the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lung) causing fever, achy muscles, headache, fatigue or weakness, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough (dry), and chills and sweats.
It is important for workers to know workplace protocols, and to consider preventative measures to reduce the spread of illnesses.
What can YOU do to protect yourself from getting sick?
1. TRUE – The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on worldwide monitoring of influenza viruses. 2. FALSE – The Centre for Disease and Control recommends a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. However, preventative actions like washing your hands with soap or coughing into your arm are important daily steps that can help reduce the spread of germs. 3. TRUE – While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. 4. TRUE – Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Written by Jennifer Miller, Curriculum Development Coordinator
At OSG, all of our staff are Health and Safety Leaders. This month, we are featuring two outstanding leaders: Jennifer Malcolm and Shane Angell. JEN MALCOLM
With 15 years of service, Jen Malcolm is OSG’s longest tenured employee. She got her start in administration, then moved into client relations. For over 10 years, Jen has been striving to help her clients maintain workplaces that are both safe and happy places to work. Jen is known around the office for bringing positivity to her work, and always lending a helping hand to coworkers. In January 2015, Jen was given her most important title yet: Aunt! She’s embraced her newest role, describing being an aunt as the most wonderful thing in the world. When she isn’t working, Jen enjoys boating and spending her weekends with her husband at their trailer in Port Dover.
“Being safe at work is everybody’s responsibility.” -Jen Malcolm
Shane Angell came to OSG through Fanshawe College as a part-time coop student. His immense knowledge and instrumental role in developing our internal sales platforms, along with his magical ability to fix all computer-related issues great and small, made him indispensable. So when he graduated, he was hired full-time to OSG’s IT Dept. He’s been working for OSG in different capacities for almost four years. Shane has a reputation for being extremely calm and patient. Shane has a passion for Volkswagen cars, and is the proud owner of a custom VW creation. He participates in many VW groups. His favourite kind of Pop Tarts is strawberry.
“The quickest way to do a job, is usually not the safest way.” -Shane Angell
Next time you are in OSG’s London office, say hello to Jen or Shane. They are OSG Safety Leaders who embody safety culture in the workplace.
OSG prides itself on celebrating clients who embody the spirit of what it means to be a Health and Safety Champion. We celebrate our Health and Safety Champions in our monthly Be Safe Newsletter, and we feature them on our website.
Who are our Health and Safety Champions? Our Health and Safety Champions do more than just attend and complete our OSG courses. They take what they learn and go back to their workplaces and drive positive and lasting changes. Our Health and Safety Champions are active in the improvement of safety policy and programs at their work. They are not only concerned with compliance; they strive to create an overall safety culture. They don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk! They lead others in their industry by setting the safety standards bar high – then they encourage and help colleagues and peers reach that level of safety excellence.
What does it take to be a Health and Safety Champion? If your company has taken OSG training and used what they learned as a platform for changes and improvements, then you are an OSG Health and Safety Champion! We want to hear about the changes you made, and how you apply your training in order to continuously improve your program. You may request a survey from your Client Relationship Manager, fill one out below, or you may be randomly selected. Each month, we choose one outstanding Health and Safety Champion to be featured in the Be Safe Newsletter. We also feature your company on our website. Our Health and Safety Champion page is a directory of stellar health and safety-minded companies. We link to each company’s website and contact information, too. Anyone searching our site for the safest companies to do business with, will be directed to our Health and Safety Champions’ contact information.