Who is Responsible for Workplace Health?

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Health Assured team

01 March 2018

    It is true that in most everyday situations you must be responsible for your own health. In your personal time you are free to make decisions which will benefit your health, both mentally and physically, yet in the workplace you have less freedom over the activities you participate in. You may have to adhere to different rules, such as spending a lot of time sitting at a desk or dealing with stressful situations. Over time this can have negative effects on your health. Therefore, you might be wondering who is responsible for health and safety at your workplace. In modern times, it is becoming evident how much of an impact an employer can have on their staff’s health. Therefore, an employer must take some accountability, including making changes and decisions with an employee’s workplace wellbeing in mind. This responsibility must also be shared with the employee. If you are a manager or employer, we suggest reading this useful guide to begin to understand how an employer can look out for employees’ workplace health. If you an employee, it would be a great idea to pass this guide or some of the ideas within it onto your manager or employer.

Physical health

While some signs of physical health issues in your staff can be easy to spot such as a broken leg or a cut finger, there are other conditions that may not be obvious. Sitting at a desk all day without taking breaks or doing any form of exercise can begin to take its toll on the body, and cause serious health issues such as musculoskeletal problems and muscle strains. Therefore, managers should encourage employees to make small changes in their routines to consider their physical health. This can be done by encouraging employees to take a walk and get some fresh air at lunch, instead of eating at their desk. Suggesting to them that they walk or cycle to work, or offering incentives if they do, can greatly benefit their physical wellbeing and is a step forward in taking more responsibility for their health. Providing standing desks to those who suffer with back, neck or shoulder pain can help ease their symptoms and can bring other health benefits such as helping them to burn calories.

Mental health

Unlike physical health, it can be extremely difficult to know if an employee’s mental health is being affected in the workplace. One in three line managers admitted that they would not be able to spot mental health issues in their employees, which makes taking responsibility for this more difficult. As a result, the most efficient way to support staff wellbeing is to incorporate a workplace health service. Our service offers employees somewhere to turn to, should they need it. Professional guidance can be tailored to the individual, helping them to recover in a safe way. Health Assured’s experienced and friendly service is available 24/7, which means individuals never need to feel alone and can always turn to someone in their time of need, especially if friends and family are unavailable. Alongside this, employees' mental health should be supported through an open workplace culture, where staff can share their thoughts and feelings without worry of judgment. This will prevent anything from being ‘bottled up’ and causing further issues in the future. A manager can encourage this through different workplace rules and setting an example for employees by ensuring that they are always open to suggestions from staff. We recommend following these guidelines to ensure that good working conditions are provided, which cater for all employees’ mental and physical wellbeing. This is an essential step forward in sharing responsibility for workplace health, and aiming towards a healthy, productive working environment.

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