Opinion

How Safety and Wellness Are Related

By Sandi Alexander Tuttle, Communications Manager, Xerox Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability

Employers are responsible to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all of its workers. Similarly, employees share this responsibility by recognizing and respecting known hazards, reporting potential hazards, and following all safe work practices.

Sounds simple. Is there anything else?

Yes! Your overall health and wellness are also an important factor in workplace safety. Whether you work in a manufacturing facility, an office or some other type of work environment there is a chance that you may sustain an injury.

Consider some of the factors that may contribute to workplace injury and recovery rate:

  • Age (ageing workforce).
  • Rising obesity levels.
  • Declining fitness levels.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Poor eating habits.
  • Prevalence of flexed or bent postures in everyday life.

Are you doing it wrong? Here’s what you don’t know about wellness and workplace safety.

Studies show that high health risks, such as smoking, poor nutrition and inactivity, contribute to an increase in injuries. An overweight, out-of-shape person places more stress on her joints and soft tissue, generally fatigues faster, and may use poor body mechanics due to lack of strength and/or flexibility. Factor in the repetitive or sustained demands of many work tasks, and it is no wonder that workplace injuries continue to concern employers and employees.

Despite this discouraging-sounding information, there are things you can do.

Working in wellness
Wellness can be defined as “the lifelong process of becoming aware of and making healthy lifestyle choices.” A person who regularly makes healthy lifestyle choices is much less likely to sustain an injury, reduces his risks for premature illness, is better able to manage stress and is generally happier. Healthy lifestyle choices include the following:

  • Sleep seven to eight hours per night.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Achieve and maintain a normal weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation — or not at all.

If you aren’t practicing some or all of these healthy lifestyle habits, you should take steps to work them in. Just don’t try to make the changes all at once!  In fact, even small changes, like a modest 10 percent decrease in your weight, taking a short walk during your lunch break or with the family after work, changing work postures or bringing healthy snacks or your lunch to work most days can have a positive impact on your overall health and reduce the stress on your joints.

Four tips to prevent injury
Workplace safety and wellness are absolutely related. Preventive measures that include all of the following can minimize the frequency and recurrence of injuries. Oftentimes, they can prevent injuries altogether, and help you enjoy a healthier, safer life at work and at home:

  • Respect known hazards, report potential hazards, and follow safe work practices.
  • Seek out ergonomic help to reduce or eliminate risk factors that can contribute to injury.
  • Learn and practice healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Use the available programs and tools to improve and maintain your overall health.
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