Data used to ID most pressing health issues

Oglethorpe, GA-based Weyerhaeuser's HEAT (Healthy Employees Action Team) has prevented illness and injury among the company's employees since 1993. However, the specific health issues that are targeted change based on employee feedback, data collected by safety and ergonomic programs, and bi-annual health screening results.

"We do annual employee surveys to see what the employees are interested in, and we look at any particular issues that employees are having, like high blood pressure, obesity, and inactivity," says Martha Harrison, RN, BSN, COHN-S/ CM, Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist/Case Manager. "We also look at the results from the health screenings to see what issues we are having.

While this year's health screening results weren't too surprising, they did serve to confirm the company's stated focus areas.

Most often, the company's main areas of focus involve diabetes, high blood pressure, inactivity and high cholesterol. For 2009, the focus areas were Tobacco Cessation, Blood Pressure/Physical Activity/Stress Management, and Nutrition/Cholesterol/ Weight Management/Diabetes.

"Once all of the information is evaluated, the members of the HEAT vote on what issues to work on for the following year," says Harrison.

MSD injuries reduced

The Ergonomics and Safety Teams activated an "Early Symptom Reporting Protocol" to be followed by all employees. As a result, reportables related to ergonomics decreased from five in 2002 to none in 2007, 2008 and 2009. This data was taken into account by the HEAT team.

"With musculoskeletal disorders and soft tissue injuries, the earlier the treatment is started the better the results," says Harrison.

An employee recently came to the Medical Department to report a concern about an area of the Utilities unit. The problem was that he had to work in a bent position within a confined area with the possibility of hitting his elbows while performing the task.

"The Ergo team went to the area to evaluate the issue and take pictures," says Harrison. "It was decided that the issue should be taken to management for funding. The project was approved and given to a Project Engineer to oversee the job. After the job was completed, the employee came by to state how much the improvements had helped."