Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - November/December 2010 - (Page 29)

Achieving Wellness in the Workplace An Occupational Health Program Is an Important Part of Any Company’s Health and Safety Practices James Veneskey Safety Manager, Aggregates Industry Vice Chairman of the NSSGA Safety and Health Committee iner safety practices and programs have endured increasing scrutiny in the past decade. And while it is true that NSSGA and the industry as a whole work to emphasize safety in the workplace, we also feel it is important that operations give priority status to overall occupational health management. In fact, the NSSGA’s revised Safety and Health Guiding Principles, adopted in 2001, address both the safety and health aspects of achieving total workplace wellness. NSSGA now offers an informative CD with steps and examples to help companies develop an effective Occupational Health Program. This CD outlines the rationale, communication, sampling, process, health testing, programs and evaluations that comprise a good OHP. In a nutshell, the purpose of any OHP should be to identify and deal with existing occupational illness within the company and prevent the occurrence of occupational illness in the future. The program also should help to identify non-occupational illnesses of which an employee might not be aware – with referral to a personal physician for treatment. The first line of defense against workplace hazards that might result in harm is proper training. The ultimate goal of an occupational health hazards training program is to educate employees in such a way that the company gains buy-in from employees for healthful work practices, and a willingness to participate in its OHP. In order to address the importance of a truly healthful workplace, an effective OHP should contain some key elements, including: • A clear and unambiguous commitment by the company’s senior management; • A comprehensive employee communication, promotion and training program that emphasizes the potential occupational health hazards present, how to recognize them and the value employees will gain through participation; • An exposure monitoring program that samples and quantifies the health hazards within operations; • An exposure control process that will achieve timely reduction of hazardous exposures; • A medical monitoring program to assess the health impact on the workforce; • An emphasis on smoking cessation to reduce respiratory illness; • A process for periodic evaluation and auditing of the program’s overall effectiveness. Stone, Sand & Gravel Review, November/December 2010 M Some aspects of a healthful workplace might seem obvious. But they deserve mention. A healthful workplace environment will support healthful living through food choices and habits, opportunity for active living, a non-smoking lifestyle, work organization and stress reduction. Companies should also recognize that healthy employees need a good work/life balance that can be reached through time management. How can employers help in these areas? Some possible solutions include: • Providing facilities or supportive programs for active living, healthy eating, etc.; • Proactive safety programs; • Eliminating psychological risk factors; • Establishing a violence prevention policy (including harassment and bullying); • Fair hiring practices; and • Offering counseling opportunities. It’s also important that companies have a way to measure the effectiveness of an OHP. To that end, the NSSGA Occupational Health CD provides numerous forms, specifications and questionnaires. Simple methods and data can include looking at rates and cost of absenteeism, accident/incident rates and turnover rates. Additionally, the cost and effectiveness of group insurance and employee assistance programs should be addressed regularly. Less obvious aspects to consider are: • Number of and participation in program events or activities; • Employee behaviors or attitudes toward achieving healthful habits; • Number of employee promotions given each year; • Return-to-work rate from any injuries or illnesses; and • The manner in which employee suggestions are considered and/or implemented. We encourage members to further explore this important aspect of achieving better health in the workplace. NSSGA’s Occupational Health Program CD is available to members for $30 and non-members for $60. For more information, visit https://www. or call 800-342-1415. ■ 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - November/December 2010

Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - November/December 2010
Events Calendar
Legislative & Regulatory Calendar
Industry Safety Improvements Gained Through Alliances, Safety Culture
Notes from the Chair of the Health & Safety Committee
Safety Risk Management and Techniques Are Being Applied Worldwide
Achieving Wellness in the Workplace: An Occupational Health Program Is an Important Part of Any Company’s Health and Safety Practices
Once Again, The Future is Now
It’s Not Too Early to Consider Exhibiting Everything Aggregates Under One Roof
Don’t Gamble on the Future
The 2010/2011 SME/NSSGA Student Design Competition is Under Way
Rip ‘N Share Safety Handout
Products & Services Guide Listings
Buyers’ Guide

Stone, Sand and Gravel Review - November/December 2010