Preventing injuries by promoting health

Want to prevent workplace injuries? Turns out improving employee health and well-being is a great strategy.

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This broad, integrated approach to safety is part of Total Worker Health® (TWH), a National

 Institute for Occupational Health initiative. In TWH, safety, health, and wellbeing efforts are connected. Understanding that connection not only leads to fewer workplace injuries, but can also lower costs and create a happier and heathier workplace. Studies show that staying healthy and fit improves alertness and shortens reaction time to unexpected events, both key to injury prevention. A healthy, fit person also recovers from injuries more quickly so they can return to work sooner, which saves money and strengthens a company’s operations by shortening time away from work.

We may be familiar with the term “absenteeism,” which is when we’re physically away from work. “Presenteeism” is when we’re physically on the job, but our mind is preoccupied. If an employee experiencing presenteeism is working on a safety-sensitive task, whether they are at work or at home, the outcome can be disastrous. SAIF assists employers with organizational strategies to address presenteeism risk factors. The immediate goal is injury prevention but controlling these risk factors also contributes to long-range health improvement and worker well-being.

Workers are more alert, which may also boost productivity.

Controlling the risks

One way to promote health improvement is by helping all employees identify and control issues that work against alertness, productivity, and safety. In addition to traditional known safety risks, there are six other basic factors that impact safety: Fatigue, hydration, nutrition, physical activity, chronic stress, and tobacco and drug use. 

Using the TWH strategy

This may seem like a tall order, but employers can make small, often inexpensive or free changes that can promote worker health. This handout includes some ideas for promoting health in your workplace and low- or no-cost resources you can tap into in your community.

Cheap or free ideas to improve health

  • Organize walking meetings.
  • Compete as a work team in community events.
  • Serve fruits and veggies for snacks.
  • Volunteer to help a co-worker or someone in the community.
  • Spend time outdoors enjoying nature.
  • Stop using tobacco.
  • Encourage employees to share health and safety information with family members.
  • Spend quality time with a child or family member.
  • Hold a sun safety campaign: Wear sunscreen or other protection.

Cheap or free resources in your community for health promotion-related activities

  • Local hospital community outreach resources
  • Community education
  • Diabetes education
  • Physical therapy
  • County health department
  • Communicable disease education and immunizations
  • Tobacco prevention coordinator
  • Local gym or pool
  • YMCA or YWCA
  • Local parks and recreation department
  • Local walking clubs
  • Community fitness events

To learn more about how to prevent injuries by promoting health, an approach known as Total Worker Health, visit saif.com/TWH.