In a recent episode of the murder mystery TV show Rizzoli & Isles, a police lieutenant imposes a “week of health” on his squad, requiring them to drink green tea instead of coffee, take exercise breaks and eat healthy snacks. He points out that many cops die within two years of retiring—in large part due to unhealthy habits on the job.
The show may have gotten this approach right.
Studies have shown the benefits of general wellness programs in improving the health—and even the safety—of workers. (Here’s a summary of the results of a study showing the financial benefits of wellness programs and a white paper discussing the study in detail.) So it stands to reason that wellness programs specifically tailored to the issues and health risks of specific jobs will be even more beneficial.
For example, Delia Roberts, a biology professor at Selkirk College, created the Fit For Snow program, an injury prevention and wellness program designed specifically for patrollers, instructors and lift operators working at snow sport resorts.
Roberts developed the program after spending two years investigating the causes of injury among ski hill workers. She found that 85% didn’t meet the minimum recommended water intake and most had double the recommended intake of fat and sugar.
Another study by Roberts looked at the injury and accident rates in log haulers and heavy equipment operators. It found that in the North American trucking industry, approximately 75% of the operators tested were obese, 37% were undiagnosed pre-diabetics (11% were fully diabetic) and 95% of them suffered from chronic joint or muscle pain.
These findings resulted in the Power Driving Program, a health and wellness strategy for heavy vehicle drivers and equipment operators.
Roberts also developed Fit to Plant, a pre-season training program for tree planters that includes diet and exercise.
Use this Model Wellness Questionnaire to survey your workers’ health, wellbeing and productivity so you can identify problems and implement solutions to them.
For more information on wellness program, go to Safety Smart for wellness-related safety talks such as:
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