Why integrate fitness and leadership into your safety program?
Aging workforce

With Baby Boomers entering their fifties, employers are feeling the impact of an aging workforce. According to the Surgeon General, sixty percent of adults are overweight and out of shape. This is a major cause of concern not only for general health and health care costs, but also for cumulative trauma disorders to backs, knees, shoulders, and necks. These injuries make up half of all workers comp costs.i, ii Yet, general fitness - the ability to perform everyday tasks without excess fatigue or injury - is rarely a part of an injury prevention program.

Half of injuries related to lack of personal fitness

American businesses spent half a TRILLION dollars on health care and workers comp last year, due to illnesses that are the result of unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, excess weight, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. In 2001, "preventable" workers comp and health care costs exceeded six times the profit of our top ten corporations. Diseases controllable by lifestyle cost the United States $400 billion in health care annually; and in workers comp, cumulative trauma disorders (Cads) alone exceed $65 billion.iii

HR & personal efforts not very effective

Most workplace efforts toward helping employees improve their health originate in the Human Resource department. It usually takes the form of passive information such as brochures distributed by health care insurance providers, or an annual health fair where employees can get their cholesterol levels or blood pressure taken free. While this approach certainly has value, it has had little effect on changing behavior. The reality is, most people wait until that first heart attack or stroke before they act to improve their health.

BBS does not address the problem

The safety professional's job is to create the safest possible work environment with the ultimate goal to prevent all injuries. For many organizations, this goal remains illusive, even when world-class safety systems, including behavior-based safety are in place. Behavior Based safety systems are narrowly focused on unsafe acts, include no systems to build teamwork and trust, and do not effectively address lack of general fitness and the aging workforce.

Traditionally, organizations have looked to their corporate wellness and HR benefits programs to address personal health and fitness. But is this good practice when over half of the population is over 45, over weight and observably out of shape? Can the worker you hired 10 years ago still safely lift those toolboxes and climb those ladders without putting himself or herself at risk for injury? Have you ever read a BBS observers report that said, worker unfit to perform essential job function? A BBS system alone cannot eliminate root causes associated with the general lack of fitness in the workforce.

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