Employee Health Promotion Programs: Focus on Injury Prevention
Preventing injuries is a high priority for companies, especially in factory settings such as Honda. That’s why the business offers several programs—including line-site process evaluations —to identify potential hazards and help reduce the chance of injury. As part of an early intervention program, Honda employees who are feeling pain can receive a massage of the affected area during work time.
Stretching programs are another effective tool in injury prevention. According to the Best Practices in Manufacturing Web site, Dayton Parts, Inc. (DPI) in Harrisburg, Pa., conducted research that revealed approximately 80 percent of all manufacturing injuries occurred within the first two hours of each shift. After starting a program that mandated production employees to stretch for 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of their shifts, they saw a dramatic reduction in injuries.
While the DPI Worksite Health Promotion Plan costs about $75,000 a year to operate, in conjunction with other business programs, it has helped bring the annual cost of workers’ compensation from $700,000 to $200,000 per year.6
To help prevent lengthy absences and reduce workers’ compensation claims, Honda instituted a work recovery program. Through the program, workers who have had an injury can work in a modified job—getting better. Employees in the program spend their work days receiving physical conditioning to increase overall fitness, physical therapy to restore functionality, health education and nutrition counseling. The program is based on data that shows fewer work days are lost when an staff member stays connected to the work environment.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, www.ohiobwc.com, provides a “10-Step Business Plan” as a guide for companies in offering Employee Health Promotion Programs that aim to reduce injuries. The plan includes information on safety and health programs to prevent occurrences of on-the-job accidents, including:
Staff member involvement - To ensure the success of any Employee Health Promotion Program, employees must participate in the safety and health-management process. This can be done through safety and health audits, accident investigations, or by forming safety and health involvement teams, focus groups or committees.
Orientation and training plan - Conduct orientation and training sessions to educate employees on the business’s safety policies. These sessions should include procedures for the safe use of machinery and tools, chemical hazards and how to prevent contact or exposure, specific job/task safe practices, and hazard recognition and prevention.
Communication - Open communication keeps employees informed and provides suggestions and feedback on the effectiveness of the Employee Health Promotion Program. Through memos, bulletin boards and staff meetings, important safety and health information can be conveyed throughout the company, keeping all management staff and employees knowledgeable about the business’s safe practices.
The business plan also outlines incentives for post-injury procedures, including:
Medical treatment and return-to-work practices - arly return-to-work strategies help injured or ill workers return to work in a timely manner. Companies should establish a disability management policy to help injured or ill employees obtain quality medical treatment, making their transition back to work quick and effortless.
Timely notification of claims - Companies should document worksite injuries immediately after they occur and promptly send that documentation to a claims handler. Quickly offering claim information demonstrates care and concern for the injured staff member, prevents delays and confusion with the claim process, and reduces the potential for abuse or needless litigation.
Record keeping - Internal documents should be kept to record work-time injuries and to assess the success of the business’s safety efforts. Company audits, surveys and injury or illness reports can all be used to assess which safety practices and policies have proven successful, and what areas of health and wellness need improvement.