Historically the focus of Workplace Health & Safety has been a reactive approach to fatalities and injuries in the workplace. This school of thought has led to a nation wide struggle with overweight and obese workers that have resulted in lower productively levels, increased mental health concerns and absenteeism in the workplace. Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk of global deaths that are largely preventable through healthier food choices and regular exercise according to the World Health Organisation (2013).
Safety professionals need to review their current health and wellbeing procedures to ensure they are promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of the workforce. Workplaces should aim to actively foster a positive connection to fresh produce and physical movement in the workplace.
While there is no universal approach to weight loss, there is a strong body of literature that identifies a causal association between workplace intervention programs incorporating worker participation and web-based interventions and weight loss in obese and overweight males.
With working adults spending over half of their waking hours at work, workplaces are urged to consider implementing a monitoring and intervention program to ensure dietary and physical activity behaviors do not result in adverse health issues in workers.
The aim of empowering workers through a participatory approach is critical to a successful workplace wellbeing program. Winning and competition as specific motivational factors in the program can result in changes to the social norm and setting weight-loss goals that also need to be considered in the program design.
Interventions targeting obese workers can produce a cost saving to workers and the workplace through a decrease in absenteeism and improvements in productivity.
Workplaces should consider obtaining medical clearance for workers before commencing a wellness program to determine their health risks in partaking in physical activity and their current physical ability.
Does your company have and intervention program in place?
What initiatives do you take to look after your workers wellbeing?