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JOEM Paper Promotes Integration of Safety Initiatives and Health/Wellness Programs

Journal of Occupational and Environmental MedicineA recent paper published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine highlights the proven effectiveness of the integration of safety initiatives with health and wellness programs.

Written by a staff from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), “Workplace Health Protection and Promotion: A New Pathway for a Healther – and Safer – Workforce” addresses the need for a new model of integration between workplace safety and health and wellness programs.

“While we have made great strides in creating separate cultures of safety and wellness in the United States in recent decades, the two have yet to meet and merge into a truly sustainable culture of health,” says the paper’s lead writer, Pamela Hymel, M.D.

Experts believe that the separation of these two activity programs has limited the potential effectiveness and efficiency that could make a significant difference for each side.

“Traditionally, health protection and health promotion activities have been viewed as two distinct activities and have operated independently of each other in the workplace,” the paper reads. “Placing boundaries around these activities has been a limiting factor in their overall effectiveness.”

The idea here is simple: if you promote positive personal health among a workforce of people in a variety of demographics, you have a greater chance of positively influencing the culture of safety in an organization.

“The two factors, personal health and personal safety – each essential to a productive worker and to a productive workplace – are effectively combined in a symbiotic manner way that increases their impact on overall health and productivity. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts,” the authors add.

The ideas presented in this paper are, albeit concrete and fruitful, far from revolutionary discoveries in workplace safety. The other purpose of this paper is to encourage more research to be used as evidence for future studies and initiatives.

With OSHA and other regulatory bodies out there, addressing workplace safety is a must in today’s world. Therefore, it is not the application of safety programs to the workforce, but rather the degree of this application and the promotion of it that is left to be determined.

The authors of this paper also call for employers to join health promotion and safety programs and incorporate activities that promote both sides of this concept. The ultimate goal here is to increase the number of organizations who take a proactive approach to safety and provide other employers with real-world examples of an effective workplace safety culture.

What are some of the things that you see in today’s world that promote a positive workplace safety culture?

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