Be Healthy – National Safety Month 2016

June is National Safety Month, and Stonehouse Signs, as a founding member of the National Safety Council (NSC,) encourages all employers and employees to participate by discussing the weekly safety topics the NSC has chosen to highlight. This week’s topic is Be Healthy. Businesses and other organizations are welcome to use this article as a conversation tool to spur an important safety discussion with their employees.

Look for weekly articles from Stonehouse Signs highlighting the National Safety Month weekly topics, or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + for National Safety Month tips all month long.

Stonehouse Signs National Safety Month 2016 Be HealthyFor the third year in a row, the National Safety Council is focusing a week in National Safety Month on a pervasive safety issue that can be found across all industries, and that can greatly impact a worker’s health and safety: opioid painkillers. While the overall theme of this National Safety Month week is “Be Healthy,” particular emphasis is being paid to opioid painkillers and their effect on worker’s health. Below are our tips for keeping your workers healthy overall and helping them to avoid the negative effects of opioid prescription painkillers.  

Overall Worker Health

“Worker health” is a broad term, but according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC,) this concept is designed to recognize that a variety of work factors can influence a person’s overall health. Work factors including wages, hours, stress, coworker interactions, and access to healthy and/or preventative activities can have an impact on a person’s overall health and their risk for certain medical conditions or diseases.  

Although the definition of “health” will vary from worker to worker, the CDC identified four key areas in establishing a comprehensive workplace health program, to help guide organizations in designing and implementing such programs.

1.  Organizational Culture and Leadership
Create a leadership structure that encourages participation and feedback, actively communicate your commitment to worker health and safety, and get mid-level managers to help communicate, motivate and encourage worker health.

2.  Program Design
Evaluate your current program and identify areas that may be deficient, including eliminating any recognized workplace hazards. Then establish clear goals for your new health program, and make participation for workers easy, motivating, and tailored to their diverse needs. Finally make sure to take a long-term approach when designing a health program that is responsive to a changing work place or work force.  

3.  Program Implementation and Resources
After you’ve designed your program, make sure your implementation is successful. Do this by making sure you have adequate resources for your program goals, or if you can’t allocate all the resources needed at once, focus on a few goals at first, then scale up as you can. Also make sure you’re successfully communicating the program to your workers and holding managers and other leadership accountable for the program implementation and outcomes.

4.  Program Evaluation
Make sure you measure your progress toward your health program goals, while keeping in mind certain health goals (such as preventing chronic conditions like Musculoskeletal Injuries may take a long time to have a measureable effect. Adjust your program as needed based on your outcomes.

Opioid Painkillers

Your workplace safety program isn’t complete unless you address the risks of opioid painkiller use and addiction with your workers.

The risks of using opioid painkillers are staggering. According to the National Safety Council, opioid overdose deaths currently outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine overdose combined. And injured workers that receive a prescription for one or more opioid painkillers have higher workers’ compensation costs, spend more time on disability, and have higher lost work time. They also use medical services, such as hospitals and the emergency rooms, more often.

For employers, educating their workforce of the health and safety risks of opioid painkillers is vital. Even when using these prescriptions as prescribed, workers can experience negative health effects, the potential for addiction, and an increased risk of workplace accidents and injury. Opioids can make everyday work activities, such as driving to and from work, operating equipment and machinery, and completing tasks in a timely manner without mistakes, difficult and potentially dangerous. They can affect a worker’s focus and concentration, and increase their potential to make errors that may hurt themselves or others.

Having a comprehensive workplace health program will ideally reduce the overall need for these medicines among your workforce. Even so, safety-focused employers should educate their workers on the dangers of opioid painkillers, and inform them of their right to ask questions, question treatment or get a second opinion for any medically-prescribed treatment. The more educated your workers are of their medical rights and options, the more they can make informed choices for their own health and safety. 

We hope our tips will help improve your worker’s overall health and decrease their risk of opioid painkiller use. For more information on prescription painkillers, read our past National Safety Month articles on Prescription Painkiller Abuse and Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse. And join Stonehouse Signs next week as we discuss National Safety Month’s Week Three Topic, “Watch Out For Dangers.”  

Since its founding in 1863, Stonehouse Signs has produced high-quality visual communications solutions for various industries and the government. The company specializes in custom products for safety, information and accident prevention, and manufactures a full line of safety signs and facility signssafety tags, vinyl safety decals, and custom magnetic whiteboards designed for extended outdoor life, harsh environments and demanding applications. For more information call 1-800-533-9914 or visit www.stonehousesigns.com.

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