In last month's newsletter, we looked at some of the risks associated with obesity in the workplace. This month, we'll focus on how to conduct a workplace assessment to identify and mitigate a wide range of health issues so you can reduce your overall health-related risk exposure.
The Value of Workplace Assessments
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) promotes workplace assessments to help businesses understand the issues their company is facing with regard to lost productivity and workers' comp issues, as well as potential discrimination claims that can arise when workers feel they're being targeted or their health needs are not being met.
According to the CDC, “Employee health is determined by a complex set of interactions between the individual and their social, cultural, and physical environments and can be influenced in many ways.” That means that to be effective, your workplace assessment must involve much more than a cursory review of your company's past healthcare expenditures.
Conducting Your Assessment
Most evaluations begin with a site visit and evaluation with a focus on identifying health risks like low lighting or habits that can promote problems like low back pain. The evaluation should also include interviews with managers and employees and a review of any health promotion programs or incentives that may be in place.
Employee questionnaires are another important component, providing a first-person perspective on health and safety issues, employee satisfaction and any other health-related concerns.
Reviews of both health claims and pharmaceutical costs from the past few years can provide important information about the prevalence of medical issues and whether your company is moving in the right direction with its health policies. You can also identify which employees have the greatest number of claims and highest costs to pinpoint occupations that may be most prone to injury. Similar data can be extracted from records of employee sick days and absences.
Once data are gathered and evaluated, a decision can be made regarding the value of your current health plan and whether or not it needs to be altered, as well as any steps you can take on site to reduce injury and illness.
One word of caution: When developing employee health questionnaires ore reviewing medical claims data and sick days, be sure your actions don't run contrary to any privacy or HIPAA regulations to avoid potential claims of discrimination or other violations. The CDC offers a comprehensive guide to workplace health assessments for businesses with single or multiple locations to help guide you. You can find an overview of the guide here, as well as a list of supporting documents and guides to help you carry out your evaluation.