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Blue-collar workers not in the pinkest of health: latest WorkHealth checks

The latest results from WorkSafe Victoria's free, 15-minute WorkHealth checks have revealed that blue collar workers are more likely to have high blood pressure, drink at risky levels, and be at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease than their white collar counterparts.

WorkHealth Director, Pam Anders said nearly 600,000 Victorian workers – or one in five – have undergone a voluntary WorkHealth check offered to date.

Ms Anders said that latest findings from a Monash University report on 500,000 WorkHealth checks provided employers with an unprecedented insight into the major health concerns facing their staff and, in turn, their business.

The report, released earlier this month, found that blue collar workers, when compared to white collar workers, were:

• more than twice as likely to smoke (29% vs 13%);

• more likely to drink alcohol at risky levels (49% vs 37%);

• more likely to have high blood pressure (30% vs 24%);

• more likely to have a high risk of type 2 diabetes (31% vs 21%); and

• more than twice as likely to have a high risk of heart disease (7% vs 3%)

Ms Anders said the findings for industries such as manufacturing, construction and mining should raise alarm bells for employees and employers alike.

"WorkHealth checks have shown that unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as alcohol consumption and smoking, and alarming conditions such as high blood pressure, are a particular concern among blue collar workers.

"Business success is dependent on having a pool of motivated, healthy, safe and engaged people to deliver strong results, without whom the economy would grind to a halt.

"Given the significant challenges of labour and skill shortages, an ageing workforce and climbing rates of chronic disease, blue collar workplaces need to address the added challenge of poor worker health to future-proof their industries... there's a great deal that employers can do to promote healthy choices and behaviours in their workplaces," says Ms Anders, who observed that the WorkHealth program is not only about supporting worker health, but also about promoting productive and thriving businesses for Victoria.

"Blue collar workplaces, where the work is often more physical, can particularly benefit from wellbeing initiatives, such as group stretching exercises to prevent injury and boost morale."

Ms Anders said the findings of the WorkHealth program would help inform chronic disease prevention strategies in Victoria, Australia and internationally.

"The WorkHealth findings give Victorian employers access to the major health concerns in their industry.

"By developing specific wellness programs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, employers will see a much stronger return on investment and ultimately reduce the impact of chronic disease on their business and the wider Victorian economy", says Ms Anders.

With absenteeism costing Australia $28 billion in lost productivity and working time, IHR believes that employers and employees can take advantage of the link between health and productivity to enrich their personal and professional lives.

The WorkHealth results for your industry sector can be found atWorkHealth website.

Melbourne Office : 
Suite 11, 828 High Street Kew East Victoria 3102
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Level 34 AMP Tower, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney 2000

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