For most organisations, being a big conglomerate or small enterprise, the people in the organisation represents the biggest asset that is regarded as responsible for supporting the purpose why the organisation exists.
The concept of “work”, meaning a structured job, has become an integral part of modern society. For individuals, it does not only provide a means to financial resources, but it provides a sense of being, of usefulness and achievement and contribution to the societies they serve through the companies they work for. “Work” is an important component of the social environment of most people and it provides a purpose to life and a reason to get up in the morning.
For most organisations, being a big conglomerate or small enterprise, the people in the organisation represents the biggest asset that is regarded as responsible for supporting the purpose why the organisation exists. The organisation/company you work for therefore needs to leverage this important people capital to be successful. To that end success also refers to the wellbeing of the people that makes up the organisation. This “wellbeing” relates to all aspects of life and working life, it relates to the people in an organisation thriving.
This includes your physical health, understanding it and taking ownership of it; your mental and emotional health and being self-aware; your social wellbeing – meaning to be connected with one’s family and friends, one’s workplace and the larger community and also financially which refers to being financially secure.
Sometimes we tend to forget the obligations that go with the running of a company. Over a period of many years, due to the diverse nature of work and the places of work, and in support of assuring the wellbeing of individuals and groups at work, a legislative framework, governed by various Acts and Regulations, was developed. The place of work may vary from an office environment to mines, to the construction industry, the manufacturing industry, and transport industry, each with specific measures for health and safety applicable per industry.
The leadership in the organisation is responsible to develop a framework for selection, periodic surveillance and support for all the work-related health risks and exposure of employees to these risks. The results of the surveillance programme will indicate how frequently medical screening examinations need to be done on employees exposed to risk as legally required per industry segment. They need to employ or contract with specialised companies to advise and perform these periodic examinations and environmental control assessments. This means companies need to invest into creating and maintaining a safe working environment as far as possible, and must provide their people with safety equipment as protection against harm from the environment they work in. This safety equipment may thus depend on your type of work and could include hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment, respirators to protect the lungs from dust or safety shoes to protect your feet to name but a few examples.
This field of occupational health is evolving as is seen in the newer field of ergonomics which is the science of designing the job to fit the worker in other words to develop workstations and equipment so as to eliminate or reduce risk related to physical stress on a person’s body to prevent work-related disabling injuries to the muscles or back.
Remember, these measures are in place to preserve your health, so use the safety equipment provided and adhere to the scheduled examinations.
On-site, workplace clinics are another investment used by organisations to enhance the wellbeing of employees. These clinics are run by registered occupational health nurses, frequently with support of a doctor, and provide preventive care and treatment to employees at their place of employment, thus increasing their attendance at work and ensuring optimisation of health status.
From time-to-time your company may organise wellness or health awareness days. The purpose of these days is both to create awareness of lifestyle issues that may impact on your future health or to at least screen for undiagnosed conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Use the opportunity to participate in those programmes and take responsibility to change your lifestyle or to visit your family doctor if concern was raised about your health during those days.
Just a point to think about: Sick leave is a privilege and not an entitlement. To assist the company to reach its goals, you need to be there and you need to be “present”! Keep yourself healthy and use your sick leave judiciously and help your organisation to thrive!
Dr Martin de Villiers is the Medical Director at Medwell SA. Various services are available including Occupational Health & Wellbeing programmes for workplaces. For more information on services available, send an enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org