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Date PostedMay 28, 2014

White Card Update: Queensland Workplaces for Wellness Program to boost OHS

The Queensland government is offering businesses in the state an incentive to develop innovative health and safety ideas for the workplace by introducing a grant under the Working for Wellness Program Initiative. Safe and healthy workplace ideas are being encouraged in this way.

The grants amount to more than $1 million under the initiative. According to the government the aim of the program is to encourage productivity by promoting safety.

According to statistics healthy employees are three times more productive at work than their co-workers which in turn boosts the state’s economy. Also workers who smoke, drink excessively, have a poor diet and carry excess body weight have been linked to higher absenteeism rates, low morale and increased worker’s compensation premiums.

According to Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie, obesity costs Australian businesses around $6.4 billion every year through the loss of productivity. Bleijie explained that the grants were a way of encouraging healthy habits among workers and so far have funded more than 500 workplaces to give more 30,000 workers the chance to improve the health and wellbeing.

All employers should have a safe and healthy workplace program already in place and if they do, they can put forward an application for the grant regardless of what industry sector they are in, all sectors are eligible.

Although all industries are being encouraged to participate, those who have been identified as particularly high risk and so are especially encouraged to participate include those in the transport, agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining and construction sectors. Industries in rural and remote Queensland are also encouraged to get involved.

How Good Health Promotes Safety and Productivity

In addition to statistics that prove an improvement in health directly correlates to an improvement in productivity, good health is also vital to workplace safety, in other words a healthy workplace makes good sense for many reasons. Increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism ultimately benefits the company’s bottom line. It is also worthwhile remembering that improved health and safety also improves morale among workers and further contributes to a more productive work environment.

For more information visit the Workplaces for Wellness website at:

https://workplacesforwellness.qld.gov.au/

The Importance of Promoting Good Health in the Workplace

Because we spend the majority of our time at work it is important that this is a safe and healthy environment for us. We can either benefit from a safe and healthy worksite (and flourish) in both our professional lives and wellbeing or we can suffer the consequences of ill health which also has a negative effect on safety.

According to leading health bodies employers have a responsibility to provide a healthy workplace for employees. According to the Queensland government, 1500 Aussie employers have implemented some form of a health program which covers around 400,000 employees. Although this may seem like a significant amount, it only equates to 3.6 per cent of Australian employees.

Obviously more employers need to get involved with such initiatives, not only to improve their productivity but also to make them a preferred employer amongst the workforce. According to a study quoted on the Wellness Program website, 30 per cent of people said they would prioritise an employer who offered them a workplace wellness program. So the company ultimately benefits from a healthier and happier workforce.

What does the Workplace Wellness Program Entail?

On its website, the government funded initiative claims to be designed to help employees improve their wellbeing. It does this by helping them to adopt a healthier lifestyle beginning with a small investment to a comprehensive program with a more substantial investment for larger numbers of workers. But even companies which fall outside of the scope of the grant should implement measure to encourage healthy living among its workforce.

Employers can consider introducing activities into the workplace which raise awareness about health issues as well as learning new skills. Programs should also encourage a healthy work culture and involve the introduction of policies in the workplace that can aid workers in making the healthiest personal lifestyle choices.

Why is this so important? Many may argue that worker health is not as important and implement hazard control measures and safety plans to avoid injuries because after all an individual’s health choices are their own. However it is worthwhile keeping in mind that ill health can be extremely costly to a business as well as the economy on the whole.

Statistics show that workplace stress costs the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year and stress related absenteeism costs the employers $10.11billion annually. Obviously there is a financial benefit and motivation for implementing worker health plans.

Statistics also show that when health and wellness are not properly managed, an organisation is four times more likely to lose human capital in the following 12 month period – an obvious incentive to implement health plans as soon as possible if your company has not already done so.

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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