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Heads Up - Preventing psychological injury Jun 4th, 2014
Creating a mentally healthy workplace is everyone's responsibility! The Heads Up campaign was launched last month to business leaders to take action on mental health. As part of Heads Up, an Action Plan will be unveiled later this month.

Safe Work Australia and work health and safety regulators have resources which can assist organisations manage mental health in their workplace. For example, Safe Work Australia recently published a number of fact sheets:

Preventing Psychological Injury Under Work Health and Safety Laws, to assist persons conducting a business or undertaking and workers address psychological health risks to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all persons at work

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Workers' Compensation Legislation and Psychological Injury, which provides a general overview of the employer’s role under workers’ compensation legislation in relation to psychological injuries.

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Healthy Aging at Work Jun 4th, 2014
graphicAustralia’s population will both grow strongly and become older in the medium term. This population growth and ageing will affect labour supply, economic output, infrastructure requirements and governments’ budgets, and has lead to the suggested increase in the retirement age from 65-70 for those people born after 1965. Such changes are likely to have down stream impacts on employers due to a gradual increase in the average age of your workforce.

Safety and Health Outcomes Associated with Aging and Work

Aging affects a variety of health conditions and outcomes, including both chronic health conditions and likelihood of on-the-job injury. However, the exact nature of these relationships has only recently been better understood, and it is quickly becoming clear that appropriate programs and support in the workplace, community, or at home can help workers live longer, more productive lives.

Chronic Disease and Aging

Arthritis and hypertension are the two most common health conditions affecting older workers, impacting 47% and 44%, respectively, of workers over the age of 55. An even greater proportion of workers (more than 75%) are estimated to have at least one chronic health condition that requires management. Diabetes is perhaps the most costly of these; one study found that 1/3 of all Medicare spending goes towards management of diabetes.

The frequency of these conditions and others in older adults has important implications for workers can physically perform their duties, but also when. Higher morbidity means more absenteeism when an employee feels sick and more presenteeism when an employee is ill but shows up to work regardless. However, individual health risk factors are a stronger influence on future healthcare associated costs than advancing age alone. In comparing young workers with “high risk” of chronic disease (5 or more risk factors) to older workers with few or no risk factors, the younger workers had significantly higher medical costs associated despite the disparity in the age groups: 19-34 year olds, versus older workers aged 65-74.

Safety and Aging

As for safety on the job, workers who are older actually tend to experience fewer workplace injuries than their younger colleagues. This may be because of experience gathered from years in the workplace, or because of factors such as increased caution and awareness of relative physical limitations. The caution is well-founded. When accidents involving older workers do occur, the workers often require more time to heal, underscoring the need for a well-planned return to work program. Some evidence suggests incidents affecting older workers are more likely to be fatal, underscoring the need for employers to be mindful of how best to adapt the conditions of work to protect workers as well as explore opportunities for preventative programs that can maintain or build the health of employees through their working life.

Benefits of an Age-Friendly Workforce

Employers increasingly see the value that older workers bring to the job. Older workers have greater institutional knowledge and usually more experience. They often possess more productive work habits than their younger counterparts. They report lower levels of stress on the job, and in general, they get along better with their coworkers. Finally, they tend to be more cautious on the job and more likely to follow safety rules and regulations.

Workplaces, often out of necessity, have adapted to older workers.  Discrimination based on age or disability is inappropriate, and current government policy is rewarding and supporting the retention and employment of qualified workers despite limitations that may come from age or disability. However, some employers are more proactive than others, realizing that a well-designed, employee-centered approach to the physical nature and organization of work benefits all workers regardless of their age.

Workplace design, the flexibility of the work schedule and certain ergonomic interventions increasingly focus on the needs of older employees. Many workplace accommodations are easy to make and are inexpensive. Modern orthotics, appropriate flooring and seating, optimal lighting, and new information technology hardware and software can smooth the way to continued work for older individuals. New emphasis on job sharing, flexible work schedules, and work from home can support added years in the job market for many. Although work may not be beneficial for all older persons, for many it is an important avenue to economic security, enhanced social interaction, and improved quality of life.

Next: Simple Strategies for an Age-Friendly Workplace

 

 


Simple Strategies for an Age-Friendly Workplace Jun 4th, 2014
Many effective workplace solutions are simple, don’t have to cost very much, and can have large benefits if implemented properly with worker input and support throughout all levels of management.

Below are some strategies for preparing your workplace for a healthier, safer and more age-friendly workforce. Consider putting these strategies in place today:



  • Prioritize workplace flexibility. Workers prefer jobs that offer more flexibility over those that offer more vacation days. To the extent possible, give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location and work tasks.

  • Match tasks to abilities. Use self-paced work, self-directed rest breaks and less repetitive tasks

  • Avoid prolonged, sedentary work. Prolonged sedentary work is bad for workers at every age. Consider sit/stand workstations and walking workstations for workers who traditionally sit all day. Provide onsite physical activity opportunities or connections to low-cost community options.

  • Manage hazards. Including noise, slip/trip hazards, and physical hazards - conditions that can challenge an aging workforce more.

  • Provide and design ergo-friendly work environments. Workstations, tools, floor surfaces, adjustable seating, better illumination where needed, and screens and surfaces with less glare.

  • Utilize teams and teamwork strategies for aging-associated problem solving. Workers closest to the problem are often best equipped to find the fix.

  • Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions including physical activity, healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, risk factor reduction and screenings, coaching, and onsite medical care. Accommodate medical self-care in the workplace and time away for health visits.

  • Invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels. Help older employees adapt to new technologies, often a concern for employers and older workers.

  • Proactively manage reasonable accommodations and the return-to-work process after illness or injury absences.

  • Require aging workforce management skills training for supervisors. Include a focus on the most effective ways to manage a multi-generational workplace.



 


Media Release - Mentally Healthy workplaces attract better staff Jun 3rd, 2014

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Interactions Between Injured Workers and Insurers in Workers’ Compensation Systems Jun 3rd, 2014


Most research on the effects of compensation has concentrated on examining outcomes rather than considering the compensation process itself. There has been little attention paid to the interactions between stakeholders and only recently has the client’s view been considered as worthy of investigation. This systematic review aimed to identify and synthesize findings from peer reviewed qualitative studies that investigated injured workers interactions with insurers in workers’ compensation systems.


Conclusion: Interactions between insurers and injured workers were interwoven in cyclical and pathogenic relationships, which influence the development of secondary injury in the form of psychosocial consequences instead of fostering recovery of injured workers. This review suggests that further research is required to investigate positive interactions and identify mechanisms to better support and prevent secondary psychosocial harm to injured workers. 


 



Get Active for 60 Days Jun 2nd, 2014

Every week it seems that we are being bombarded by all kinds of new ways to exercise that promise to strip fat and make us have strong arms, ripped abs and steel-like legs. But how do we decide what is actually going to get us the results and what is not? It seems that there has to be a right answer, something that is right there in front of us waiting to jump out at us. Is it Crossfit with its new fusion of strongman training and olympic lifting, is it hot yoga where you lose 4kgs in one session, is it boot camp where we pretend we are US Marines and get yelled at by someone with too many tattoos and a haircut that is too short. How do we know what is the answer?



The answer is simple - none of them are! The key to success is to be active in anyway possible. The benefit of programs listed above is that they motivate us, they keep us interested and they teach us a new skill, things which we humans thrive on. It is important to remember that key to achieving your exercise goals is to simply move. What does that mean exactly? Physical activity takes many forms - walking the dog, going on a nature walk, surfing, housework and yardwork. If you are one of those people who is flipping through the pages of popular culture magazines constantly looking for the newest fad, keep doing that, but also try incorporating exercise into your daily life. Take the stairs over the elevator, park the car a couple of blocks away from work and walk more in your day, ride your bike twice per week instead of driving your car and instead of watching TV with the kids for 30 minutes, go for a family walk.



We all need to stop seeing exercise as another thing that we need to add to our day and expect that some new fad is going to suddenly change us from having a low activity lifestyle to being a gym junkie - it won't happen! So here is my mantra - try it for 60 days, change something about your daily routine that means you need to walk and extra 30 minutes and get your family involved in it as well. Give it a go and hashtag your progress to #getactivefor60days.


Enjoy your new active lifestyle.


Adrian Cois.



Next Dietitian Talk Thursday 12th June 2014 at 12.30pm. May 28th, 2014

Temika Lee's next Dietitian Talk is on Thursday 12th June, 12.30pm at Central West Health & Rehabilitation in Geraldton. This talk is free for gym members and people who are completing Central West Health & Rehab's Diabetes Management and Chronic Disease Prevention programs.


This talk covers:



  • Healthy Eating Habits

  • Glycemic Index

  • Fat Types and Cholesterol

  • Recipe Modification Label Reading



Infographic- Dietary Salt May 23rd, 2014

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Science of Laziness May 23rd, 2014


Shoulder muscle loading during over head tasks May 22nd, 2014
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The task of wall painting produces considerable risk to the workers, both male and female, primarily in the development of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of gender, work height, and paint tool design on shoulder muscle activity and exerted forces during wall painting. 

Results: For both genders, the high working height imposed greater muscular demands compared to middle and low heights.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that, if possible, avoiding work at extreme heights will reduce fatigue onset and subsequently assist to prevent and mitigate potential musculoskeletal shoulder/neck injuries

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Infographic- Common Hazards for the Home Handyman May 22nd, 2014

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Infographic - Why Lift Weights May 20th, 2014

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Exercise is Medicine - InfoGraphic May 16th, 2014

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Poster - Sitting Take a Stand! May 9th, 2014

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Poster - Stand up for Your Health May 9th, 2014

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ABS - Soft Drinks, Burgers and Chips May 9th, 2014

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Walking Anatomy, Physiology and Benefits May 8th, 2014

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Health risks we'll face if we work till 70 May 8th, 2014
 

With the pension set to rise to 70, it's not just those doing hard physical labour who need to consider whether they can finish their working life with their health intact.

Yes, we're living longer, as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey loves to remind us. A child born in Australia today can expect to live to around 82, up from about 55 in 1900.

Unfortunately, these extra years are not always healthy ones.

"Not all of the benefits of increased life expectancy are equating to [improved] quality of life," says Professor Mark Harris, executive director of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of NSW.

And as the number of older workers grows – as predicted with a shift to a pension age of 70 – so too will the proportion of people in the workforce affected by conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, cognitive problems as well as vision and hearing loss, Harris says.

 

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How healthy will older workers be?


The proportion of Australians who rate their health as only fair or poor generally doubles between each life stage from 7 per cent of 15-24 year-olds to 13 per cent of 25-64 year-olds to 31 per cent of people aged 65 and over.

Some diseases that are more prevalent in older people and the implications of this for older workers (or those newly retired) are:

 

Cancer – For many types of cancer, the risk increases with age. By 75, 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women will be affected. Survival rates are improving, but even for those diagnosed in mid-life, treatments may need to continue for years and can leave ongoing disabilities.

Cardiovascular disease – The proportion of people affected almost doubles from 45-54 and 55-64. This grows by a further third or so (to almost half the population) by 65-79.

Osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint condition which often affects hands, hips, knees and ankles. After age 45, the prevalence rises sharply. "It hardly ever kills you but it can really affect your quality of life," Harris says. Arthritis and other problems affecting muscles and bones are among the leading cause of employment restrictions.

Type 2 diabetes – Around 15 per cent of 45-54 year-olds have type 2 diabetes and this increases to around 28 per cent of 65-74-year-olds. Says Harrris: "Someone with diabetes who has lots of complications, they may not die but they may spend a period of time quite disabled. They may even have to have amputations."

Vision disorders: Almost double between ages 35-44 and 45-54.

Hearing disorders: Around a third of people are affected by age 55-64 and this continues to grow.

Falls – start to increase age 70-74.

Cognitive issues: "Not necessarily dementia, but people simply having vascular problems in their brains. This starts to happen in the 70s particularly; people start not to be able to function as they have been."

 




Reference:


http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2014/05/08/4000407.htm



Heart Week 2014 Sunday 4 May - Saturday 10 May 2014 May 5th, 2014

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8 Ways to Prevent Sprains & Strains in the Workplace May 4th, 2014
50% of worksite injuries are sprains and strains are the greatest cause of workplace injury.

In the workplace most of these types of injuries are caused by manual tasks such as lifting or carrying loads, working in fixed positions, repetitive tasks or using heavily vibrating toolsThe second greatest cause of sprains and strains is slips, trips and falls at ground level and from heights such as jumping from vehicles, which can cause lower limb and back strains.

While some workplace hazards are easy to spot like a missing guard on a saw or a bucket in the middle of a busy shop floor sprains and strains are not always that obvious.  This is because they can be caused by the way work is designed and carried out like awkward body posture, high body force and high task repetition that is more insidious.

1.  Recognise the Signs – Aches, Become Pains, Become Injuries

Often musculoskeletal injury comes with warning signs and symptoms before an injury occurs, and long before any work is missed. Review the incident reports, listen to your workforce and keep an eye out for things like:



  • Comments about discomfort or pain

  • Stretching or rubbing muscles while working

  • Repetitive similar injuries with specific tasks

  • High turnover or absenteeism in a particular section



2.  Consult about Musculoskeletal Hazards

Talk to workers about the most difficult parts of the job like holding awkward body postures and doing highly repetitive work for extended periods and find a better way together.  Workers who are doing the job are generally best placed to find solutions.

3.  Fix the Hazards

Consider what improvements could be made to the way work is done to improve working posture such as the position of the work or change the workstation layout to eliminate excessive reaching or leaning forward.  Next time you go through a checkout look at the workstation layout and I am sure you will see the risks.

Position frequently used tools and equipment within easy reach and consider adjustable tables to accommodate everyone.  Likewise reduce manual handling by using mechanical lifts to support and to move heavy loads and try to eliminate the lift by changing how objects are stored.  Reducing the physical force and task repetition needed to do the job should be another focus.

Poor health contributes to the risk of strains and sprains. Workplace health promotion has a role in improving emplyee resilience

4.  Consider Individual Factors.

It’s important to take care of the entire body with exercise, proper posture, a sensible diet and adequate rest.  Injury is less likely in a worker who is physically fit than someone whose muscles or ligaments have weakened over time from lack of exercise or age.  Smoking and fatigue are also issues that impact the wear and tear on a body.

Promote individual physical fitness and healthy living through a company wellness program.  Think about introducing stretching before and during work to warm-up muscles and help relieve strain.  Provide training and coach workers frequently on how to move material safety using lifting equipment and safe postures.

5.  Focus on Ergonomic Design

Ergonomics is the match between design, the environment and the individual. It is not a one size fits all.  It allows quality work to be completed safely and easily by fitting the job to the worker and providing appropriate equipment. For example someone who is taller needs a different chair to someone below average height.

6.  Look at Organisational Hazards

If there is poor communication and organizational cooperation and limited worker involvement in decisions that affect working tasks then this will be reflected in a poor corporate culture, low worker morale and higher time lost and costs associated with sprains and strains such as workers’ compensation premium.

7.  Find Workplace Champions

Active OHS can help you address the risks in your workplace. It’s hard to effect change on your own.  It’s a Pantene thing it won’t happen overnight but it will happen if you have the right tools and support. Having workplace wellness champions can assist with raising overall awareness of the health, safety and welfare of the workforce by providing general information to colleagues as well as providing specific details on workplace risks and the support and assistance that is available to effect change.

8. Are you winning?

Set some Benchmarks. How does your workers’ compensation premium compare to other businesses in your industry?  Where do you sit when it comes to sprains and strains?

 

If you aren't winning our IMS Assessment is inexpensive and can help highlight areas of need. Contact us for more 


Reducing just six risk factors could prevent 37 million deaths from chronic diseases over 15 years May 3rd, 2014
Reducing or curbing just six modifiable risk factors -- tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure and blood sugar, and obesity -- to globally-agreed target levels could prevent more than 37 million premature deaths over 15 years, from the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs; cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease, cancers, and diabetes) according to new research published in The Lancet.

 

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Worryingly, the findings indicate that not reaching these targets would result in 38.8 million deaths in 2025 from the four main NCDs, 10.5 million deaths more than the 28.3 million who died in 2010. This is the first study to analyse the impact that reducing globally targeted risk factors will have on the UN's 25x25 target to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% relative to 2010 levels by 2025.

Using country-level data on deaths and risk factors and epidemiological models, Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues estimate the number of deaths that could be prevented between 2010 and 2025 by reducing the burden of each of the six risk factors to globally-agreed target levels -- tobacco use (30% reduction and a more ambitious 50% reduction), alcohol use (10% reduction), salt intake (30% reduction), high blood pressure (25% reduction), and halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

Overall, the findings suggest that meeting the targets for all six risk factors would reduce the risk of dying prematurely from the four main NCDs by 22% in men and 19% for women in 2025 compared to what they were in 2010. Worldwide, this improvement is equivalent to delaying or preventing at least 16 million deaths in people aged 30-70 years and 21 million in those aged 70 years or older over 15 years.

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Rifat Atun from Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA says, "With political will and leadership, the 25×25 targets are well within reach. But despite robust evidence, well-proven cost-effective interventions, and a compelling case for action made by [this study] to address risk factors for NCDs to save millions of lives, political apathy prevails. Even with much discourse, meaningful and durable action against NCDs is scarce, with little accountability to achieve the promises made and the targets set at the General Assembly in 2011.

 

Complete our Free LifeRISK score to find out how many risk factors you have.

 

 


Obesity Surgery - Pre-Surgical Nutrition May 2nd, 2014
Many people waiting obesity surgery do not realise that the aim of the band is to sharply reduce food consumption. Preoperative education should include eating, psychological implications and risks and disadvantages of obesity surgery. Our registered dietitian can help patients make informed decisions.

People considering bariatric surgery must begin with preoperative weight loss using very low calorie diet (VLCD) meal replacements and low energy foods for 2—6 weeks. Some weight loss before the surgery reduces liver size and visceral and subcutaneous adiposity, making stomach access during surgery that much easier, minimising operative risks and length of surgery.

Our dietitian encourages the Optifast approach as the most evidence based VLCD.

 

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Introducing restrictive eating practices early also means patients understand what is required post-surgery. The length of this preoperative diet may depend on the patient’s initial weight and the maximum weight hospital and surgery beds can safely manage. 

A preoperative assessment of nutrient markers is recommended with sufficient time to correct nutritional deficiencies. Despite their well-nourished appearance, these patients are often found to be deficient in nutrients such as folate, iron, selenium vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vitamin D may be low due to reduced sunlight cutaneous synthesis and modest dress. 

Preoperative nutrient defeciencies can be caused by poor diet choices, chronic dieting and medication side-effects. This pre-screening is also useful to distinguish post-surgery complications and biochemical changes.

Reference:


http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/banding-to-help-the-obese



Obesity Surgery - Post-Surgical Nutrition May 2nd, 2014
For the first two months the goals of postoperative nutrition care are to maintain adequate hydration; to correct and maintain nutrient status, including vitamins, minerals and protein, which are needed for healing; and to return gradually to normal food consistency.

Consistency begins with a liquid diet for the first 1—2 weeks, followed by puréed and soft foods for 2—4 weeks, and then smaller serves of normal foods. Progression through each texture will depend on the patient’s tolerance, and formulated products may be required. Nutritional deficiencies can still occur though from poorly tolerated foods and food consistencies, and unusual diets.

It is important for you to be psychological ready for this change in diet habits, as some patients continue dysfunctional eating of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods — just in smaller portions.

Lifelong changes in eating behaviour are required, depending on the procedure, such as eating regular, but much smaller meals, eating more slowly, cutting food into small pieces and chewing well, and avoiding filling up on liquids. Frequent testing of nutrient markers is required every six months in the first 1—2 years.

An exercise program is also a necessary part of the postoperative routine. Along with diet compliance, exercise helps prevent weight regain and maintain weight loss.

 


 

Reference:

http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/banding-to-help-the-obese


Safety First - Reduce UV Apr 30th, 2014

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Infographic - Multiple Sclerosis Apr 30th, 2014

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