Obesity in Australia is increasing, making a significant impact on the health and safety of Australian workers as well as worker's compensation costs - and businesses are recognising this. 

Earlier this year, a worker had his claim for unfair dismissal rejected by the FWC after he was stood down from his job with pay and told to lose weight, but instead gained 10kg. The underlying issue in this case was the man's ability to safely undertake his job. He was unable to operate forklifts due to the maximum weight safety ratings. However, when considering a case like this, there's more to it that safety ratings. While it may not have been the reason for his dismissal, his weight put him at risk for a number of reasons including:

  • Poor physical capacity
  • Poor flexibility
  • Increased risk of musculoskeletal injury
  • Health problems - ie. sleep apnoea, heart disease and diabetes risk

In addition to this, an Australian government report titled "Overweight and Obesity: Implications for workplace health and safety and workers' compensation" (2008) highlighted the following workplace health and safety issues for overweight and obese workers:

  • Obese workers are more likely to take sick leave and be less productive
  • Due to being unfit, obese workers will take longer to recover with higher medical costs and more expensive worker's compensation claims
  • Overweight employees find it more difficult to perform tasks, especially physical tasks, due to impaired mobility and flexibility
  • Obesity contributes to increased rates of workplace musculoskeletal injuries 

So the question is - Should businesses be playing a bigger role in the prevention of these workplace health and safety issues? It could simply come down to businesses needing to protect their bottom line and reduce productivity losses. 

For those in need of ideas or assistance in getting your workforce motivated, implementing a workplace health program should be high on the priority list. But you need to ensure it's a program that can elicit high levels of engagement and measured employee health risk reductions so you know it will have an impact. Health by Design has created science driven delivery systems, content and contact frequency criteria that produce voluntary, monthly engagement of in excess of 80%. This then grows into effective long term behaviour change of more than 60% in areas such as weight, fatigue, blood pressure and cholesterol. We strive to obtain these types of results for all the organisations we work with.

Contact us today to discuss the options available to your workplace. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but we will work with you to develop the right approach.