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Dr Duncan

A healthy workforce equals a healthy community

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I don’t suppose many of you will remember the time when there were bus conductors on buses? Or, perhaps, that in the ‘olden days’, houses with open fires needed to employ a chimney sweep to climb up and clear last year’s soot out of the stack to prevent a fire starting in the roof?

In 1775 Sir Percival Potts described cancer of the scrotum in chimney sweeps - the first recorded ‘lifestyle’ cancer. Today lifestyle related cancers are still a cause for alarm, with obesity linked to a number of preventable cancers.  

And although an observant GP back in the 1950s noted that bus drivers died at a much young age than their physically active conductor colleagues, we still have a lot of sedentary workers sitting in front of screens for hours at a time, raising their risk of cardio-vascular disease.


Taking back the initiative

Sometimes I wonder when health become ‘medical-ised’? After all, the word medicine comes from the Latin ‘ars medicina’ which means the art of healing. Whilst many of us will trip over the line and become ‘dis-eased’ and require the healing skills of my medical colleagues, healthy people should be able to access good health information and support where they most need it, and for most West Australians, that’s at work.

There are only 24 hours in any one day, and a lot of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work. It’s here that we should be getting the lifestyle support that we need to live long, healthy and happy lives. Healthy people shouldn’t have to queue up at a busy doctor’s surgery to check if our blood pressure or cholesterol is normal. The workplace offers a much better, more convenient environment to receive quality health information on a whole spectrum of areas:
  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Personal hygiene
  • Posture and Ergonomics
  • Stress management
  • Flu shots
  • Smoking/alcohol

Shining lights

The great news is that there are some very enlightened companies out there who do a great job promoting healthy lifestyles in their workforces. So if your company promotes:

  • The Quit Campaign
  • Responsible drinking
  • Physical activity
  • Beyond Blue

… to mention just a few, then take a bow because not only are they enhancing a healthy culture at work but they’re changing our communities too.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

HBF fitness 2014

One of the challenges for any company, large or small, that embarks on a health program for their employees is to target the program to their specific needs. The second and most crucial thing they must do is to measure and review the outcomes of such a program. Running a Quit campaign in a small business where no one bothered to find out if anyone smoked would be a complete waste of time. Circulating a questionnaire about alcohol consumption and seeing if there is a need to provide a responsible use of alcohol program, and assessing its impact at 6 and 12 months would be far more likely to produce positive benefits.

Providing people with health information which is relevant and easily accessible within their community, is a smart option that leads to healthy outcomes.
A healthy workforce = a healthy community.  Everyone profits!

 

 

 

Article written by Dr. Duncan Jefferson. More articles here. For more information on health care and private health cover, visit HBF Insurance at www.hbf.com.au.

The content of these articles is not tailored for any particular individual's circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated

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