Managing forestry workers health risks
Friday 5 Apr 2019Safetree ran a project last year to find out about the health of New Zealand forestry workers. The goal was to identify what health risks need to be managed to ensure forestry workers stayed fit to do their jobs. We also wanted to give people a better way to monitor and manage their health.
The project was run in partnership with Dr Tom Mulholland’s KYND Wellness group, Rayonier Matariki and FICA. It collected anonymised health information from 774 workers and it gave us, for the first time, a snapshot of the health status of people working in forestry.
The project identified that of the 774 workers:
- 23% are current smokers
- 39% have a waist circumference that suggests a high risk of injury (e.g. getting out of machinery) and long-term disease such as type 2 diabetes
- 69% have elevated or high blood pressure, indicating an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke
- 19% have an unhealthy cholesterol ratio, indicating an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- 14% had a blood test result that indicates either pre-diabetes or diabetes
- 51% have sleep issues
- 23% were at risk of moderate to severe depression; 4% screened positive for severe depression.
This information is really useful because it means Safetree, and individual forestry companies, can develop targeted initiatives to reduce these health problems and ensure workers stay fit to do their jobs. We know being physically and mentally healthy has a positive impact on safety outcomes.
The project also benefited the individual workers involved. 226 workers were alerted that they have high/elevated blood pressure. Another 38 were alerted that they have pre-diabetes/diabetes and 80 people were alerted they were at risk for depression. KYND emailed 106 workers who had potentially serious health conditions to help them come up with a plan to improve their health.
The project involved a 14-stop roadshow, where Dr Tom talked to more than 1100 forestry people about how to improve their physical and mental health. People at the workshops downloaded the KYND app, which helps them monitor and manage their health.
Thanks to everyone who helped with this project, particularly the workers who took part. We’re now looking at some next steps to support forestry companies and workers to improve health in their workplaces.
Safetree are suggesting that you might look to build in Dr Tom’s TWIG video at your next off-site safety meeting.
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