Report: Healthy workers add to business value

‘The value of a company can be seen as the health of its workforce’


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Leading U.S. health and safety experts have proposed a new system for better integrating the efforts of health and safety teams in the workplace – including an index that measures the overall business value of companies.

The new system was introduced in a guidance paper published in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Underwriters Laboratories.

Dr. Robert McLellan, medical director of occupational and environmental medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and a co-author of the paper, summed up the findings by saying, “Ultimately, the value of a company can be seen as the health of its workforce.”

In the paper, leading practitioners of workplace health and safety programming propose an Integrated Health and Safety model, featuring a new Integrated Health and Safety Index based on the methodology of the widely used Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The proposed Integrated Health and Safety Index would translate the impact of employer health and safety programs into business value for the investment community, measuring the effectiveness of employers’ health and safety programming using the Dow Jones’ familiar categories of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

McLellan added that the authors believe that “companies that invest the most in the health of their employees do better in the long run” and that having healthier employees “eventually drives down costs.”

The paper makes the case that programs promoting better health in the workplace impact the safety of workers and that programs promoting greater safety in the workplace impact the health of workers. Thus they should be considered as part of a continuum and employers should integrate them strategically in order to create a true “culture of health and safety” among employees.

A detailed description of the proposed Integrated Health and Safety Index explains how the new index would mirror the structure of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, yielding similar values based on health and safety effectiveness.

The paper concludes with eight policy recommendations intended to ensure broad adoption of Integrated Health and Safety principles and the implementation and use of the proposed Integrated Health and Safety Index by the business community.

A copy of the paper is available at: journals.lww.com/joem/pages/default.aspx

Mike Barwell is the media relations manager at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

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