AAOHN: Health Promotion Reduces Costs, Improves Worker Productivity

Underscoring occupational health nurses' leadership role in promoting employee health, the AAOHN board of directors adopted a position statement to raise awareness among corporate executives, government leaders, and other stakeholders of the positive influence health promotion has on reducing healthcare costs and improving worker productivity.

Businesses continue to be affected by both the rising costs of employee health care benefits and direct work-related employee health and safety expenses. U.S. businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses--expenditures that, according to OSHA, come straight out of company profits. In addition, lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies $60 billion each year.

"Businesses have found that focusing on short-term fixes for immediate health care needs is not the solution," said AAOHN President Susan A. Randolph. "A long-term strategy for corporate success must include provisions for keeping healthy employees healthy, improving the health status of all employees, and encouraging companies to support, promote, and actively engage employees in achieving optimal health.

"As business partners to the corporate enterprise and as health care professionals, occupational and environmental health nurses are champions of investing in the health of employee populations," Randolph added. "The primary focus of occupational and environmental health nursing has been and continues to be the promotion and restoration of health, prevention of illness and injury, and protection from occupational and environmental hazards. The concept of health promotion is well grounded in the occupational and environmental health nursing history and is a key tenet of the profession."

The position statement, entitled "Occupational and Environmental Health Nurses' Role in Improving Employee Health and Productivity" and available online at www.aaohn.org, states that to remain competitive in the global economy, it is imperative that businesses, as well as society, help employees and communities change their lifestyles to move toward a state of optimal health for improved bottom line results, increased productivity, and lower total health care costs. AAOHN believes the OHN, as the recognized leader in workplace health and safety, is in a position to:

  • Serve as a role model for healthy behaviors.
  • Set expectations that employees self-manage their physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Leverage health promotion and disease management programs and services to increase employee accountability for health.
  • Serve as a health advocate and expert to internal and external groups.

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