These 3 types of health screenings are key for injury prevention and improved employee health outcomes.
By Lauren Lazar, Director of Onsite Program Management, Onsite Innovations. Originally published August 1, 2023 in OH&S.
For workers in high-risk environments, their health and wellness are critical to their performance and function. But when shifts sometimes range from eight to 10 hours a day, for five to six days a week, it can be hard to make time for the preventive health care needed to keep bodies and minds in optimal shape.
Onsite health screenings are a valuable tool for workers and site leadership. No one wants to lose time on the worksite – employers and employees alike – so properly evaluating health and wellness, and developing a plan to improve both at home and on the job is becoming increasingly important. Health screenings promote injury prevention, improve health outcomes and boost worksite culture and job satisfaction – all by ensuring that workers have convenient access to the health resources they need.
Today, there are a variety of health screenings that can be provided right on the worksite and performed by clinicians who might already be present to support injury care. For leadership looking to address the whole health and wellness of workers, there are three key types of health screenings that give onsite clinicians a full picture of the health of each worker and the entire workforce – biometric screenings, ergonomic assessments, and health and wellness knowledge assessments.
1. Biometric Screenings
When workers bring themselves to the job site every day, they also bring with them their underlying health conditions. Knowing and understanding the health conditions that are impacting the population is important for onsite clinicians to be able to provide the right care and treatments to deliver optimal health outcomes. Biometric screenings, such as body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks, can be performed by onsite occupational health professionals allowing them to better support the population. These screenings can assist with the detection of hypertension, diabetes, and risk for heart disease.
Onsite access to screenings allows workers to get their results within minutes, and onsite professionals can provide appropriate counseling on next steps for further testing or treatment from primary physicians. These screenings also make early detection of chronic conditions possible and provide valuable information for onsite providers to help workers prevent or manage conditions. For example, if an employee is showing prediabetic blood sugar levels, an onsite provider can discuss ways to manage blood sugar and prevent diabetes that the worker can begin implementing that same day. The best care provides an easy avenue to better health, and getting a biometric screening from a trusted on-site provider is a great way to get workers thinking more proactively about their wellbeing.
2. Ergonomics Assessments
For individuals performing tasks repeatedly, the way they move their body can be the difference between a nagging injury and staying at full health. Ergonomics assessments are one-way onsite clinicians like athletic trainers can observe each worker’s body and help them use tactics to move better and produce more force with their tools and make less impact on their body. These evaluations can be done while workers are completing their job tasks, as athletic trainers are able to spot movements that could result in injury and advise workers of modifications at the same time.
Slips, trips and falls are also a leading cause of injury on worksites. To prevent them, athletic trainers can run balance assessments to screen the worker population for balance deficits and use the information to incorporate a pre- or post-shift balance programs. Learning how to properly use their bodies to lift, push or grab equipment, etc., helps workers reduce stress on their bodies, prevent fatigue and exhaustion, and perform at more productive and efficient levels. Especially as workers age, staying flexible and limber become both more difficult and more important. Setting a baseline for where the risk areas lie and how to improve them can give workers the insights they need to keep their bodies stronger and allow them to work later in their careers without pain.
3. Health and Wellness Knowledge Screenings
Health and wellness knowledge screenings are often deployed as surveys to gauge worker familiarity on important health topics like nutrition and exercise. These screenings can help build a baseline of worker knowledge that informs site leadership of specific gaps that need to be addressed through tailored programs. For example, if the majority of workers score low on a nutrition assessment, onsite clinicians can develop a nutrition education program that informs workers about proper nutrition and portion control. They can also run a nutrition challenge to further engage workers and drive home nutrition education. These types of general health and wellness knowledge programs help workers become more aware of the things they can do in their own time to better their health and wellbeing. These good habits will, in turn, help workers feel more energized and bring their best selves to work. Simply knowing may mean the difference between ignoring the risk signs and making more healthy decisions.
Supporting a Healthier, Safer and Inclusive Workforce
Onsite health screenings are an easy way to analyze the full worker population on a job site and help leadership develop programs that are tailored to the direct needs of their workforce. Understanding the underlying health conditions impacting workers is key to improving health outcomes in both the short and long term. This information enables workers to be connected to the care and resources they need to treat or manage chronic conditions like diabetes or obesity and improve their overall health. Knowing the conditions workers face also helps onsite clinicians provide the right care for workers in case of a medical emergency. For example, if it’s a high heat day, clinicians will know to more closely monitor workers who have hypertension.
Ergonomics assessments are an important part of injury prevention and help ensure that workers are using and moving their bodies safely to avoid straining any muscles or ligaments. This type of prevention can reduce injury rates, time away from work and health care expenses. Finally, health and wellness knowledge assessments are a great way to gauge how workers are feeling and how they view and approach their health when off the worksite. If many are struggling with getting regular exercise or getting enough sleep, onsite clinicians can introduce challenges that engage workers in taking an active role in their health.
Each of these types of health assessments are meant to help workers better understand their health and give them the tools to improve their wellbeing. When workers are equipped to care for themselves and are supported by leadership, they’re able to come to work as their best selves. For leadership, this means a healthier, safer and more productive workforce that is unified by a culture of care and concern.
About Lauren Lazar
Lauren Lazar is the Director of Health and Wellness at Pivot Onsite Innovations leading the company’s growing health and wellness services. Lazar has more than a decade of experience in leading the implementation of successful wellness programs across multiple sectors of the occupational health care industry.