The news is out in this year’s March edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Fire Fighters are dying while on duty more often due to heart attacks then any other cause. Many of us have watch this statistic for years and it comes as only confirmation to what has been said for a very long time. As a health and safety professional I can only guess that physical condition, diet, stress, and perhaps the bodies own adrenalin response is at play in this sad statistic.
I will suggest that you are taking unnecessary risks, if your Department doesn’t have an aggressive health and wellness program that requires mandatory physical conditioning programs; a mental health element with emphasis on specific stressors of FFs; nutrition awareness training; as well as annual medical exams. I have had several fire departments, who upon implementing annual physical examinations, admit they had members found to have life threatening conditions. Most often these were cardiac related. Some of these members were symptomatic and some were asymptomatic.
Health and wellness programs are life savers as well as money savers. Most everyone is reporting savings in medical costs of $3.00+ for every dollar spent in prevention.
Remember the requirement in WAC 296-305-01509(7)(b). Are your members’ health, wellness and longevity the top priority in your Department? Are you actively controlling both your Department’s and your members’ medical costs?
While Fire Service has its own Health and Wellness initiative… now over ten years old, many of those in charge of the purse strings may want to access some of the available information demonstrating direct savings of implementing a health and wellness program.
Employee wellness programs offer big payoffs
By William Neil
The benefits speak for themselves.
While some may be skeptical of the effectiveness of an employee wellness program, consider these startling facts:
Employee wellness programs have been found to increase productivity among employees, decrease healthcare costs and lower absentee rates – but the benefits don’t end there.
- Coca Cola reported saving $500 every year per employee after implementing a company fitness program, with only 60 percent of their employees participating.
- In a study at Prudential Insurance, medical costs fell by 46 percent after implementing an employee wellness program.
- Providence General Medical Center found that implementing a wellness program lowered per-capita workers’ compensation costs by 83 percent.
- Coors Brewing Company reported that for every dollar spent on their employee wellness program, they saw a $5.50 return, and their absentee rate was decreased by 18 percent among employees who participated in the program.
Wellness programs can also be a valuable tool for recruiting and keeping high-performing employees. Studies show a significant correlation between individuals who seek out corporate wellness programs and the most productive workers. Companies that demonstrate they care about the health of their employees may also experience an overall increase in company morale and a decrease in work-related stress.
One famous study by Motorola Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., found that a wellness program saved that organization $3.93 for every $1 spent. The program held the annual aggregate increase in costs to 2.4% for participating employees, compared to an 18% increase for nonparticipants. Holding the rate of increase in health insurance costs down is certainly a great accomplishment, but a successful wellness program may be able to lead to much higher returns by raising the percentage of employees who are at work—and the percentage of employees at work who are truly ready to work. Measuring the effects of a wellness program on metrics such as absenteeism can be tricky. But a 2-year study by one large employer, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, Del., examined the impact of a wellness program on worker attendance. Disability days declined just 5.8% for workers at sites outside the program and 14% for workers at sites in the program. Thanks to the wellness program, DuPont workers at sites in the wellness program spent almost 12,000 more days on the job over a 2-year period than workers at other sites.
http://www.fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/NIST_GCR_05_874.pdf TriDataCorp. Report onEconomic Consequences of FF injuries “Excellent Information of FF injuries and health and wellness”
Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
"There's no question that workplace wellness is worth it. The only question is whether you're going to do it today or tomorrow. If you keep saying you're going to do it tomorrow, you'll never do it. You have to get on it today."
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