There’s no question that an unsafe work environment can lead to employee injuries. Safety programs, use of proper equipment and risk management training are just a few of the ways you can help keep your employees safe on the job. However, it’s also important to understand the common health risk factors your employees face that can increase their likelihood of injury. Identifying these risks and taking steps to counteract them is a crucial part of your risk management program.
Get to know the top three health risk factors for Colorado employees:
1. Poor nutrition
Did you know that, according to Pinnacol’s worksite wellness data, poor nutrition is a top health risk factor for our primary industries? This isn’t just a workplace problem; a 2014 Centers for Disease Control report found that compared with 1994, men weighed an average of 15 pounds more and women weighed an average of 17 pounds more. Poor nutrition and being overweight can lead to numerous health complications and diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
To mitigate this risk factor, employers can provide healthy snacks such as fruit and whole-grain granola bars and ensure there is plenty of water available to workers — even installing water bottle filling stations, if possible. Employers can also promote a culture of health and wellness by offering healthy food at workplace events and sponsoring healthy activities such as discounts on gym memberships.
All people experience stress — personal and professional — which can affect their performance and safety at work. In fact, surveys have found that up to 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job. Work-related stress causes include:
- Changing or increased job responsibilities.
- Budget cuts or lack of resources.
- Unrealistic deadlines or expectations.
- Negative interactions with patrons or clients.
- Long hours or overtime shifts.
Pinnacol has a number of resources to help recognize and mitigate stress in the workplace. Employer-sponsored employee assistance programs are a great resource for employees dealing with professional and personal stressors. It is also beneficial to create a workplace culture that supports work-life balance and encourages wellness activities such as exercise, yoga and meditation, which have all been proven to help reduce stress.
3. Tobacco use
A Centers for Disease Control analysis of National Health Interview Survey data found that 17 of 23 occupation groups had a higher-than-average smoking prevalence for adults. These included accommodation and food services (30 percent), mining (30 percent), food preparation and serving (30 percent), and construction (29.7 percent). These percentages were all in excess of the 19.6 percent national average.
Though smoking is often a cultural or social habit, particularly in these industries, employers can mitigate this risk by designating workplaces as tobacco-free — which also prevents the secondhand smoke risk to nonsmokers. Employers can also provide information about smoking’s effects on overall health and hold smoking cessation classes or workshops.
Want to learn more about ways to mitigate health risks in the workplace? Our friends at HealthLinks, a signature program of the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health, can help.
Pinnacol Assurance assumes no responsibility for management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.