Workforce Corner: Health and wellness in the workplaceRecent figures from the U.S. Department of Labor list incurred worker’s compensation related indemnity and other related medical expenses at a total of $823,272,412 for a single year.
By: By Mari Kay-Nabozny, Superior Telegram
Recent figures from the U.S. Department of Labor list incurred worker’s compensation related indemnity and other related medical expenses at a total of $823,272,412 for a single year. This is not including other costs associated with occupational injuries incurred by individual
and their employers. According to Kate Hepner-Smith, DPT, CLT, Physical Therapist at Orthopedic Spine Therapy, other associated costs come from the productive time lost by the injured employee, the time to hire and re-train replacement workers, increased worker’s compensation insurance rates, to name a few.
Major workplace accidents are not the only injuries taking away from business’ profits; cumulative injuries, such as sprains, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel, also contribute to loss in employee productivity.
There are a variety of ways employers can diminish the costs from injuries and increase productivity through a health-focused, positive work environment.
As an industrial rehabilitation therapist, Hepner-Smith has throughout Wisconsin over the last five years providing consultative services to business and industries interested in one of the newest concepts in work injury management and prevention — Job Function Matching®.
“Job Function Matching® provides solutions for the employer to reduce injury even at the time of hire by screening potential employees to assess fitness for work and by placing them in a working position that best meets their physical capabilities,” said Hepner-Smith. “The concept of Job Function Matching® assesses the physical demands of the job. From this assessment a functional job description is developed, which describes the physical demands of the occupation and provides a pass/fail test to analyze new hires or current employees wanting to return to work after an injury to see if they would meet the demands of the job. Industries that can benefit from Job Function Matching® are vast and include manufacturing, health care, hospitality, transportation, general office work and more.”
In addition to utilizing Job Function Matching®, there are many other ways to create a healthier and happier work environment. This can be done thru a number of methods; some of Hepner-Smith’s suggestions are setting up after-hour exercise clubs, fitness clubs, company sports, walking groups, running groups, providing information about health services offered in the community or hosting a company health fair. A fun and increasingly popular way to promote this type of environment is tapping into employees’ competitive nature through health and wellness competitions.
Health and wellness competitions allow employers to be creative and develop programing on as large or as small of a scale as desired.
Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. has staff members who formed a Health and Wellness Committee dedicated to the promotion of health and wellness programing among staff. A large part of what the committee does is organize various competitions to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
Competitions have included pedometer or walking competitions, weight loss challenges, and those that centered around increasing the number of workouts per week. CEP, Inc. just wrapped up its “Gridiron Challenge,” named in honor of football season, with scoring being in the form of touchdowns, field goals and conversions.
“With the Gridiron Challenge, we are emphasizing getting 30 minutes of cardio at a minimum of three times a week and adding in twists focusing on various aspects of health and nutrition rather than solely exercise as a way to maintain our health,” said Karissa Swenson, CEP Inc. Workforce Resource Specialist and Health and Wellness Committee member.
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