Shortchanging good health practices in your workplace can have a dramatic impact not only employee's health, but on their safety and productivity as well.

People watching is a favorite pastime of many, including myself and an associate I was talking to in the exhibit hall at a recent national safety conference. As we stood chatting about the latest in safety, health and environmental issues, we couldn't help but notice that so many of the attendees did not appear to be physically fit. Many people were overweight and out of shape. As we walked and talked, we observed quite a few people quickly exiting the building to have a cigarette. Attendees, huddled around tables at the food concessions, consumed large quantities of foods high in fats, sugar and artificial ingredients.

Our conversation shifted to an inquiry, not out of judgments of right or wrong but out of our mutual concern, regarding why this condition existed to such a great degree with people in general, not to mention people dealing in safety and incident prevention. Here we were at a conference where people came from a multitude of geographical areas and industries hungry to find out what more could be done to prevent accidents and resulting injuries, yet showed little awareness of how their health was being affected by their attitudes and patterns of behavior.

Are health and wellness issues even a part of our safety meetings, discussions and strategy sessions, or are they omitted in lieu of conversations about the nuts and bolts of PPE, proper procedures and the like?

Often, we have found that when people think of safety, they only think of not getting hurt in a minor or major way, such as avoiding cuts, burns, broken bones or strains and sprains. Though important, it is not the complete picture.

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