The Link Between Workplace Wellness and Safety—It’s More than Common Sense

By Carol Marin-Vargas, National Accounts Sales Manager, Creo Wellness

Do you have a business that is trying to achieve the best safety record possible? Do you want to decrease your workers’ time away from work because of health-related issues and accidents and lower your costs? Understanding that the link between workplace wellness and safety is more than common sense will help guide you. There are several key medically related causes and effects that, once understood, allow the implementation of preventative health and safety measures.

Cause and effect relationships between health and safety

1. Obesity and fall injuries. It is becoming well documented that obesity causes an increase in the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of fall injuries. Studies have shown that the gait of the obese person creates more transverse force increasing instability during a potential slip. One study indicated that the number of slips between normal weight and obese persons over a wet surface was about the same. The problem arises during the attempted recovery of the person’s imbalance. It was found that the transverse force, or force from the sides of the individual, caused instability that was less likely to be recovered from. Furthermore, during the landing phase of the fall, when hitting the floor, obese people experienced more trauma. The inability to roll and the increased force of the weight on bony structures and joints increased the crush injury.

2.  Smoking and burn injuries. Every year, as difficult as common sense may find it to understand, explosions and fires are caused by individuals smoking while filling a gas container, using volatile fluids and cleaners, or doing other activities in an environment with combustibles. It is probably one of the most difficult conundrums in health-related issues. Signs may make the safety team feel better, but they are often not enough to overcome a problematic addition like smoking. A strong wellness program that helps smokers change their lifestyles and become nonsmokers is the key. Remember that old saying, “If you don’t play with matches, you can’t get burned.” It makes sense here.

3. Sleep apnea and alertness in the work environment. The medical illness of sleep apnea, which is sometimes elusive to diagnose, but easily treated, prevents the individual from obtaining a good, restful sleep because of hypoxic events while trying to sleep. What happens is that not only is the individual exhausted throughout the day, but organs such as the heart and brain are dangerously affected. During a crucial meeting, the sufferer will simply nod off, or during periods of isolated work, one could fall asleep. There have been many work-related injuries of the office worker leaning back on the chair, nodding off, and falling backward, causing serious head and neck injuries.

4. Diabetes and heavy-equipment accidents. A diagnosis of diabetes that requires medication prevents the legal operation of heavy equipment and trucks in many states because of the possibility of loss-of-consciousness related to low blood sugar. This may seem unfair, because many diabetics maintain excellent control, but there is just not enough known to do otherwise. However, there are many things that diabetics can do, and the continuation of their excellent blood glucose levels prevents illness and hypoglycemic events while in the work environment.

5. Alcohol, drug addiction, and accidents. This is the most preventable and the most common medical illness related to accidents in the work environment, simply because of the inebriation or mentally impaired state caused by alcohol and drug abuse. Work area policy, drug and alcohol testing, the availability of treatment, and a proactive positive stance can be immensely powerful in not only treating the illness but also preventing untold damage in the work environment.

Do you have any questions about strengthening the relationship between health and safety at your work place? Creo Wellness specializes in understanding the ties between health, wellness, and a safe work environment—contact us today with your concerns, we’re happy to help.

Creo was founded by an innovative, cross-disciplinary team of laboratory diagnostic, business finance and health care management veterans. Contact us to learn how our advanced blood testing, precision analytics, health coaching and technology build employee plans that are personalized and effective—delivering real health improvements with measurable reductions in long-term health plan costs to employers.