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News from August 2004
- US physicians use labour day to fight obesity in workplaces
(Aug. 20 '04)
From Newswise "Each year, millions of Americans struggle with obesity" a potentially deadly condition that puts them at a higher risk for numerous health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently estimated that 129 million Americans are overweight or obese; economic costs to the Nation range from $69 billion to $117 billion per year.
In addition to producing adverse or even fatal health outcomes, obesity can result in increased health care costs and reduced workplace productivity. Because obesity is a major, rising health concern, and workplace intervention programs can reach millions of people, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has chosen obesity control as the focus of its Labor Day CheckList, an annual list of "quick tips" developed to assist both employers and employees in improving the health and safety of workers, the workplace, and the environment. The 2004 CheckList, Controlling Obesity in the Workplace, is posted on the ACOEM web site at http://www.acoem.org/news/laborday.asp.
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- Halifax Chamber of Commerce Receives CMA Award for Excellence in Workplace Health Promotion
(Aug. 19 '04)
OTTAWA, Aug. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA)
will present its second annual Award for Excellence in Health Promotion at its
Annual Meeting. The Award recognizes individuals and organizations, from outside of the health sector, who have made a significant contribution towards a healthy population. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is being recognized for its efforts to encourage healthy workplaces and achieve a healthy workforce within the Halifax Regional Municipality via its HealthAction and Health Works programs. "We are proud and honoured to accept this award," said Ms. Valerie Payn, President, Halifax Chamber of Commerce. "Recognizing that good health is a key driver of business success led us to identify the promotion of health as a key strategic direction for the Chamber. Accepting a shared responsibility for health, not just leaving it to the domain of the health sector, is key to improving the well-being of our employees, as well as all Canadians." The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is spreading the message that a healthy workplace can create a better bottom line for all stakeholders.
CMA's vision of a healthy population will only be achieved through the
actions of all Canadians. For consideration for this award, nominees must have
contributed to the improvement of health through health promotion actions,
initiatives or increased public awareness. Additional information on the CMA
Award for Excellence in Health Promotion including nomination forms can be
found at www.cma.ca/healthaward.htm
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- Bush administration has deregulated occupational safety and health
(Aug. 17 '04)
An in-depth analysis published in the Washington Post, 15 August 2004, shows that the Bush administration has taken major steps to scale back occupational safety and heatlh protections in the US. Standards to protect workers from exposure to tuberculosis have been dropped. Broad safeguards against ergonomic injuries were repealed. The development of regulations for the use of chemicals in making semiconductors was stopped in its tracks. Proposals for improved indoor air quality to protect workers were abandoned. There are fewer regulatory staff at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace health nationally. Business feels emboldened in this anti-regulatory environment to actively oppose measures that would improve worker health and safety.
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- UK Health and Safety Executive promotes stress reduction
(Aug. 13 '04)
Stress policy experts in Britain took to the train stations in July to lobby thousands of rush hour commuters for their views on work-related stress. Officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were there to encourage people to take part in HSE's innovative consultation and to give away 10,000 CD-Roms as commuters moved through the concourse.
The CD-Roms include a video which outlines what the consultation is about and provides a fast link to the HSE website where people can offer their views. Taking part couldn't be easier, and the deadline is one month away.
At over 13 million days a year, work-related stress is the biggest cause of working days lost through injury or ill-health, costing society about £3.7 billion a year. In 2001/2, over half a million individuals in Britain experienced stress at levels that made them ill.
The consultation highlights a set of Management Standards which enable employers to gauge stress levels, identify causes and work with employees to resolve any issues.
The Standards are not new regulations; they are a non-legislative yardstick to help organisations meet their existing duty of care and their duty to assess the risks of work-related stress. The Standards highlight the components of good organisation, job design and management that keep stress levels in check and enhance productivity.
Chair of the Health and Safety Commission Bill Callaghan said:
"We're not about eliminating all stress or pressure in the workplace. Rather we want to help employers recognise and manage the risks sensibly. We believe the Management Standards can help employers tackle work-related stress at source and reduce sickness absence caused by work-related stress. The Standards have been well-received so far but we need to gather more views."
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- Work stress a trigger for leaving Britain
(Aug. 13 '04)
An article in the July issue of The New Statesman examines the growing out-migration trend in Britain. If as many people who say they want to leave for quality of work and quality of life reasons actually do leave, the result will be an out-flux larger than the Irish potato famine, in relative terms. Evidence suggests that work stress and the resulting quest for a simpler and more peaceful life is a driving factor. As the article states: "... such large population shifts may presage sea changes in British society. It is safe to assume, for instance, that although many of the immigrants to the UK will be younger people keen to improve their economic lot, many of the emigrants will be less concerned with worldly goods: they may already have enough to survive. Over the past two decades, various labels have been invented to describe such people: downshifters, "post-materialists" - in short, people who are nearing the summit of what the American psychologist Abraham Maslow called the hierarchy of needs, and are increasingly in search of personal and spiritual fulfilment. And if that is so, then the slow substitution of one lot for another over the next two decades could make Britain an altogether harder-edged place - more "dynamic", maybe, but also more aggressive, competitive and stressful."
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