Safety First - January 2018

According to NORC at the University of Chicago, 75 percent of the Americans affected by substance abuse are active in the workforce, and they’re more likely to seek treatment if it is initiated by their employer. Jan. 22-28 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Take this opportunity to educate your employees about the dangers of substance abuse with these and many more employee communication safety resources available from Hierl Insurance Inc.:

Playing It Safe

Struggling with Drugs or Alcohol? If you recognize that you have a problem with using drugs or alcohol, you have already completed the most important step on your road to recovery. Attempting to do your job well while dealing with your problem is very difficult—but you’re not alone. Of those over age 18 abusing drugs or alcohol, it is estimated that more than 70 percent hold down full- or part-time jobs.

Payroll Stuffer

How Does Substance Abuse Affect the Workplace? Drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace impairs your senses and judgment, putting both your job and your coworkers at risk. It has a negative affect on relationships, health care costs, productivity, and workplace safety.

If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, confidential help is available. Take the first step on the road to recovery by contacting your HR representative today.

Playing It Safe

Dealing With Depression. Everyone feels sad or down at one time or another. For most, this feeling passes within a few days or weeks. But when a loss of interest in normal activities and feelings of sadness persist for a longer period, it may indicate more serious conditions, including depression.

Lifestyle Lessons

Treating Lower Back Pain. Lower back pain is one of the most agonizing and common health conditions in the world, as well as a leading cause of disability. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 1 in 4 adults will experience lower back pain for at least one day during a three-month timespan.


7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers

With all the focus on helping the younger generation achieve success in their careers, let's not forget to support our older workers and job seekers. Read this post for 7 tips for employers to help support older workers.

Credit: Shutterstock

With the unemployment rate (4.1%) at its lowest since 2000, employers are struggling to retain their best workers and attract qualified new ones. Although their efforts are often directed at Millennials, in places where people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly hard to find, employers are equally focused on people in their 50s and 60s.

For example, in May, more than 170 New England employers, policymakers and business leaders came together for an event notably titled, Gray is the New Green: Unleashing the Power of Older Workers and Volunteers to Build a Stronger Northern New England. And at a recent Manchester, N.H., workforce strategies event, AARP-N.H. State Director Todd Fahey urged HR professionals to talk with older employees about the possibility of continuing to work on a flexible basis after they hit the traditional retirement age of 65.

As a boomer and a career coach, I’m heartened by this turn of the events. Of course, I’m not so naïve as to think age discrimination is over. I agree with what Chris Farrell just said in a Next Avenue post: “Older workers still face a serious uphill climb in the job market in many respects.”

So how can employers do a better job of finding, retaining and supporting older job applicants and employees?

To find out, I interviewed Greg Voorheis, the mature worker program coordinator and Governor’s Award coordinator for the state of Vermont. I also watched a video he conducted with executives from the 2017 Governor's Award winner, Chroma Technology Group, a manufacturing firm in the biotech space, based in Bellows Fall, Vt. Incidentally, workers 55 and over currently make up nearly 30% of Vermont's workforce.

7 Tips for Supporting Older Workers and Job Seekers

Here are seven tips from Voorheis and Chroma:

1. Advertise job openings in newspapers in addition to online outlets. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that the mature population still really likes written material, like newspapers,” says Voorheis.

The Chroma Technology Group advertises its openings in print and welcomes hard copy applications to accommodate people who might not be comfortable applying online.

2. Display photos and videos of older people in recruitment marketing materials. That helps make it very clear that all ages are welcome to apply.

3. Cut down on ageism by using a group-interview model. HR departments are often staffed by younger workers, and that can result in unnecessary age bias — conscious or otherwise. This is why Chroma uses teams of four to eight people to do its hiring. “That way, no one person’s perspective carries too much weight. And if there are biases, they are minimized,” says the company's HR director, Angela Earle Gray.

4. Encourage mentoring. When older workers mentor younger workers, that helps the employees and it’s good for the company, too.

“Experience is an important thing to pass on,” says Chroma President Paul Millman. “Work habits, ways of doing things, and attitudes towards work all mature over time.”

Chroma uses peer work trainers to both help onboard employees and to continue mentoring them until they’re able to demonstrate competency in their new roles.

5. Provide ample training for older workers. Experienced employees are usually eager to get training that will keep their skills sharp and make them more employable. Yet sometimes employers hesitate to provide it because they worry about the return on investment for workers who might retire soon. Chroma takes a different tack by encouraging all workers to seek training opportunities.

“If you can show us how that is going to benefit you, we’ll find a way to get you that training, or something similar,” says Gray.

6. Offer flexible work arrangements.Voorheis says seasonal work, such as the snowbird programs offered at IBM, can be especially attractive to older workers.

Even though Chroma prefers employees to work full-time, it offers telecommuting and flextime to accommodate workers’ needs. And when staffers have needed to go part-time for a stretch, the company has tried to make that work. “We’re not fond of ridding ourselves of employees,” says Millman.

Sabbaticals are another popular option at Chroma. Long-term employees have the option to take an extended leave, for up to 11 weeks. The leave is unpaid, but the company continues to pay for medical and dental coverage.

7. Provide a wide range of benefits. Chroma also offers generous retirement benefits, company stock and a variety of wellness programs, including reimbursement for gym memberships and fitness programs. It runs monthly employee education programs, too, on topics like retirement planning, wellness and advance-care planning.

“We take very good care of mature workers at Chroma,” says Gray. “But it was never a conscious choice to do that. The conscious choice was to take very good care of all our employees.”

Voorheis echoes that sentiment, saying: “Good behaviors and programs that benefit mature workers benefit workers of all ages

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Collamer N. (27 November 2017). "7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/27/7-ways-employers-can-support-older-workers-and-job-seekers/#443ed6745ff0

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Top 10 Corporate Wellness Habits to Adopt During 2018

With the New Year in full swing, you may be considering how to turn your life around for the better -  drop pounds, kill unhealthy chocolate addictions, quit binging every Netflix season ever, etc... But what about making lasting habits within the workplace?

 

Too often, we make a list of resolutions, and we forget where we spend most our time. Work is work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t implement some of the changes we make in our personal lives in the workplace, as well.

 

Today, we thought we’d offer up 10 different ideas for employers (or for employees to offer to their boss) to try and implement within the workplace – from wellness challenges to recess. Try one, combine a few, or do them all! The best part about making resolutions is making them unique to yourself and your company. So, don’t be afraid to get creative!

  1. Offer healthy alternatives to traditional junk food items

 

Just a simple switch of snack foods in the office can cut unnecessary calories! Snacking on healthy items can make mindless snacking not so bad.

  1. Offer standing desks

 

This easy switch will be one of the new year’s trendiest wellness tactics. Select desk options that allow users to easily switch between standing and sitting while working to allow for better blood flow throughout the day.

PIXNIO - Image usage: Image is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use.

  1. Try a wellness challenge

 

There’s nothing like some healthy interoffice competition to get people motivated. Select a wellness challenge that is easy and effortless to incorporate into your workplace. This could be a monthly or a weekly challenge, switch it up each month/week to keep things interesting!

 

  1. On-site yoga classes

 

Another wellness trend that will continue into 2018 is managing stress through yoga. Mindfulness and meditation offer a slew of benefits to help employees relieve stress. Invite an instructor to your office every couple of weeks to guide the team through a yoga class.

  1. Celebrate “Wellness Wednesday”

 

Make hump day something to celebrate and begin to tackle wellness in the office in a manageable way. One day a week can be a gateway to a much healthier lifestyle.

  1. Listen to your employees

Survey employees to find out what is working and what isn’t instead of wasting time and energy on things that aren’t engaging your employee population. Use a site like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to create a survey to collect feedback from employees.

  1. Participate in a 5K or other group fitness activities

Find a 5K in your community or choose another group fitness activity and cover the entry fee for anyone choosing to participate.

 

  1. Post signs near elevators and escalators encouraging employees to take the stairs instead

Sometimes just seeing this reminder is all the motivation needed to be a little more active!

  1. Schedule recess

Pick a 15-minute time of the afternoon for everyone to get away from his or her desk. Go outside, socialize with each other and enjoy some fresh air! Taking walks has also been shown to increase creativity.

  1. Reward volunteers

 

Pay your employees for any volunteer hours up to a certain amount or allot a certain amount of time each month for employees to get away from their desk and get active in the community. Ideas include volunteering at a local food bank or cleaning up a local park, beach, or trail. You’ll benefits from both team building and group physical exercise!

 

Give one or more of these ideas a try and if they work out for you, let us know! The important lesson here is to remember your work-life is just as important to better as your personal life. When it comes to New Year Resolutions, make sure they encompass every aspect of your life and definitely don’t forget to include your employees in your thoughts.

Stay healthy, have fun, and Happy New Year!

Health Resolutions You Can Stick To In 2018

 Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
It has once again reached that time of year when we start to think of New Year resolutions to make and break. But do we ever really keep them?

We ask the experts which resolutions we should be making this year, and how we can actually stick to them.

Whether it's giving up smoking, exercising more, or getting our 5-a-day, most of us have usually given up before January ends.

But with a little help from the pros, you can live a happier, healthier life in 2018...

1. Drink more water

Health and fitness mentor Sarah-Anne Lucas (birdonabike.co.uk) says starting a daily ritual is the answer to New Year resolutions. She suggests drinking more water: "Water intake is massive. Most people do not drink enough, but what we'd all like is more energy. That comes down to what you put in, so increase your water intake. It's the first thing you put in your body in the morning. Go and get yourself a minimum of 100ml water and get it into you. To progress that practice, add lemon, to make the body alkaline. Lemon water is amazing, it also adds a bit of flavour."

2. Learn to meditate

Life-coach and mindfulness practitioner Dr Caroline Hough (aspiring2wellness.com) says we can train our minds to reduce stress, making us more likely to achieve our goals: "It involves sitting and meditating for 20 minutes. Bring yourself into the moment and be aware. That's an awareness of your external environment, so just looking at the flowers and the trees and the sunshine and appreciating it instead of rushing through life. Be aware of your internal environment, by noticing if you're very stressed, for example if you're clenching your muscles. We tend to live our lives at a level of stress which is unhealthy."

3. Start self-watching

Professor Jim McKenna, head of the Active Lifestyles Research Centre at Leeds Beckett University, advises we record our successes to motivate ourselves: "Whatever you want to do, whenever you achieve, write it down. You're trying to achieve it every day, so it needs to be nice and small, and all your job is then is to keep the sequence running. It's really as simple as that. What you're capitalising on there is positive self-regard, but also the fundamental process of self-watching. There's a lot of success in seeing your own achievements. When you collect all that up, you can start saying, 'Actually I've got nearly 10 occasions there when I did well, I'm doing well, I'm someone who can change'."

4. Look after your skin

Louise Thomas-Minns (uandyourskin.co.uk), celebrity skin therapist, recommends we pay more attention to protecting and caring for our skin: "Wash your skin nightly. Not removing make-up, daily dirt, oil, grime and pollutants from the skin every night will result in infections and outbreaks. Your skin regenerates at night too, so give it a helping hand. And don't pick! Picking at your skin will result in scarring and create more spotty outbreaks. Wear SPF every day to slow ageing and protect from the harmful effects of UV rays. Find out your skin type from a skin health expert, so you stop wasting time and money on incorrect products."

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Go Active (6 December 2017). "Health Resolutions You Can Stick To In 2018" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.goactiveincumbria.com/get-started/other/article/Health-Resolutions-You-Can-Stick-To-In-2018-e9f9d40d-ca39-48ed-be2e-b2f88f4061eb-ds


personalized-health-plans-aided-by-technology

Benefits to plants at your desk

 

Leaves on trees have turned, and a walk to the office often feels like a walk through an icebox. Open windows are a thing of months past. Cooped up, breathing dry indoor air, no one could blame you for feeling down.

But you can brighten your mood and boost your health by adding a plant or two to your workspace. You don’t even need much natural light or a green thumb.

Plants bring a bit of nature inside, along with other good stuff.

They make people happy, and taking care of them can make people even happier. That’s especially true if you’re digging in a garden – horticultural therapy helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills – but desk-side pruning can do wonders for your mental state too.

Plants are also terrific air purifiers.

The air in your office (and home) might be more polluted than air outside – especially if you’re in a big city. Furniture, carpet, plastic items and other synthetic materials are to blame, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Plants help by wicking away airborne chemicals and the carbon dioxide we puff out, and then give us oxygen, research from NASA shows.

Four decades ago, NASA scientists found more than 100 volatile organic compounds floating through the air of the Skylab space station. The bad stuff came from synthetic materials off-gassing low levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene – known irritants and potential carcinogens that are in earthly buildings too.

When the chemicals are trapped in an area, people breathing within that same area can get sick because the air isn’t getting “the natural scrubbing by Earth’s complex ecosystem,” as NASA puts it.

Hail plants.

Here are two that demand next to nothing and tolerate very low light (but are just as happy with lots of it). Expect them to live for years and years, without repotting. I speak from experience, but you’ll also find them on plenty of lists and in lots of books about easy-care plants that are good for your health.

Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

A sturdy plant with upright and stiff leaves. Ideally, its soil should dry out between waterings. It will grow bigger and look better if you water it as soon as the soil dries (not wait forever) and if it’s in medium light. But it still will live for months if you ignore it, and spring back to robust happiness when you give it a little love.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
A flowing plant with vine-like stems that can easily take over your desk. Ideally, its soil should stay a little moist. But if you let the soil dry out completely, you can jolt the plant back to life with watering. It’s perfectly happy with all kinds of lighting, including florescent, but it will be fuller with better color when it gets decent natural light.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Malek M. (4 December 2017). "Benefits to plants at your desk" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/12/3255/


No mat needed: Yoga at your desk

A sticky mat seems de rigueur for modern-day yogis, but that doesn’t mean a long piece of rubber is required to take part in the ancient practice.

Yoga first and foremost is about being present, and it starts with attentive breathing. You can do that anywhere and without props.

Once you’ve got the hang of steady breathing, matching inhales and exhales to movements helps your body relieve tension and your muscles wake up. In fact, the key to the physical practice of yoga is matching conscious breath to movement. It’s also a big part of what makes yoga feel great. Without it, you’d be doing calisthenics.

We’ve rounded up a few yoga exercises you can do easily and safely at work. All require standing – good news, given sitting is pretty bad for us. It’s best to do them with your feet flat on the ground.

 

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Inhale as you bring your arms overhead. Keep your chin level with the ground. Exhale as you soften your knees and twist your torso to the right, letting your head follow and dropping your arms to shoulder-height. Inhale as you turn back to center, lifting your arms overhead. Do the twist to the left. Repeat this pattern several times.

Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles, shoulders and upper arms. Stretches back and chest. Lubricates joints of the spine, including in the neck, and shoulders.

Chair

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides. Inhale as you lift the crown of your head. Exhale as you bend your knees (typically you want to track each knee over the middle of its corresponding foot), like you’re sitting back in a chair. Hinge at your hips, tilting your torso forward up to 45 degrees. Lift your arms to a comfortable height. Inhale as you return to standing, crown lifted, arms lengthening down. Repeat several times.

Benefits: Strengthens front thighs, buttocks, core, upper back and upper arms. Stretches calves and side torso. Lengthens spine. Lubricates joints of the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.

Triangle

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointing same direction as your chest, then turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right, and your left foot about 15 degrees to the right, making sure your left toes point the same direction as your left knee. Inhale as you extend your arms out from the shoulders and lengthen your spine. Exhale as you tilt your torso to the right, releasing your right arm toward your right leg and your left arm up to a comfortable height. Don’t turn your chest toward your right leg. Drop your gaze to the ground if you feel tension in your neck. Hold for several breaths, and repeat with the left leg.

Benefits: Strengthens front thighs, buttocks, side torso and neck. Stretches calves, back thighs and side torso. Lubricates joints of the hips and shoulders.

 

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:
Malek M. (2 May 2017). "No mat needed: Yoga at your desk" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://worklife.coloniallife.com/2017/05/no-mat-needed-yoga-desk/?utm_sq=flegx3i374&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=WorkLifeTweets&utm_content=Articles


Tips for Digging Your Car Out of the Snow

Not only can heavy snowfall make roads dangerous, but it can also bury your car and make it difficult to access. In some cases, vehicles can get stuck in a snowbank or on a patch of ice, making it very challenging to break free.

In order to effectively free your car from the snow, consider doing the following:

  • Use a shovel or other snow removal tool to clear a path for your vehicle. Be sure to clear off your windshield and shovel in front of and behind your tires.
  • Turn on the traction control function of your vehicle, if available. This tool helps limit how much your wheels spin, which, in turn, helps you sustain traction for longer.
  • Keep your wheels straight and drive forward and backward multiple times. This will rock your car gently, generate momentum and make it easier for you to get over piles of snow.

If none of the above tips help to free your car, you may want to consider calling a tow service to help you pull your car loose. Many insurance policies include coverage for tow services. Remember that clearing snow can put a strain on the body. Take frequent breaks from shoveling to avoid overexerting yourself.

 

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Are You Prepared for a Home Break-in?

While it may be difficult to imagine it happening to you, home break-ins are a common occurrence. If an intruder enters your home, your property and the well-being of your loved ones are at risk.

In order to protect your home and family from an intruder, consider doing the following:

  • Put an emergency plan in place and discuss it with everyone in your household.
  • Take any measure possible to let the intruder know someone is home and aware of his or her presence.
  • Do not assume the intruder is unarmed. He or she may be concealing a knife or gun and could produce it at a moment’s notice.
  • If you have something immediately available you can use for defense, grab it, even if it is just a scare tactic.
  • Remain vigilant. Take note of the intruder’s physical characteristics and provide the most accurate description possible to the police if he or she gets away.

In addition to the above, consider arming your home with a security system. A security system may seem expensive, but knowing your family and possessions are safe at all times may make it worth the cost.

 

Download Our December Insight PDF for More


Tips for Exercising Without Injury

While exercising can improve your mood, fight chronic diseases and help you manage your weight, it can put a strain on your body if you don’t take the proper precautions. To get the most from your workouts and decrease your risk of injury, you should take the time to warm up, cool down and stretch.

Warming Up Tips

  • Move similar to how you will in your workout by walking briskly, jogging or biking at a slow pace.
  • Increase the intensity gradually to reduce stress on your bones, muscles and heart.
  • Warm up for approximately 5-15 minutes so that you break a light sweat.

Cool-down Tips

  • Include movements similar to those in your workout, but they should decrease in intensity gradually.
  • Cool down for at least 10 minutes so that blood returns from your muscles to your heart.

Stretching Tips

  • Stretch before and after a workout to build flexibility and range of motion and reduce your risk of injury. Use gentle, fluid movements while stretching and breathe normally.
  • Focus on individual muscle groups and hold a stretch for 20 to 60 seconds. Do not force your joints beyond their normal range of motion.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that the next time you exercise, you can do so without injury.

 

Download Hierl's Full Insight PDF


Safety Focused Newsletter - December 2017

Preventing Sprains and Strains

Sprains, strains and tears to muscles and connective tissues are some of the most common injuries workers experience. Sprains and strains can result from lifting injuries, being hit by falling objects or even a simple misstep. Overusing your muscles can also cause these injuries.

To reduce your risk of experiencing sprains and strains on the job, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use extreme caution if you are lifting something particularly heavy. When in doubt, ask for help.
  • Reduce repetitive movements if possible. Chronic strains are usually the result of overusing the same muscles.
  • Use proper form when completing tasks, as extensive gripping can increase the risk of hand and forearm strains.
  • Consider your posture when sitting for long periods of time and maintain an overall relaxed position.
  • Maintain a healthy fitness level outside of work to keep your body strong and flexible.
  • Stretch before you begin working, and take short breaks throughout the day to stretch and rebalance your body.

If you have any questions or concerns about sprains or strains, do not hesitate to contact your supervisor.

 

The Hazards of Headphones

In many workplaces, it’s common for employees to listen to music while they work. While this provides workers with entertainment while they perform their job duties, the overuse of headphones may lead to hearing loss over time, particularly if they listen to media at a high volume.

The following are some common symptoms to look out for if you are concerned that frequent headphone use is contributing to hearing loss:

  • Straining to understand conversations
  • Having to watch people’s faces closely to understand what they’re saying
  • Continuously increasing the volume on the TV or radio, especially to the point where others complain
  • Sounds seem muffled after listening to music
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

If you find that you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor and ask for a hearing test. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are at risk for further hearing loss.

To continue to use headphones at work safely, there are a number of strategies to keep in mind.

If you use a smartphone or MP3 player, check to see if you can set a volume limit on it. Many devices have this feature built-in and include instructions on how to set it in the manual.

Another way to reduce your risk of hearing loss is to purchase headphones that go over your ears, rather than ear buds. Ear buds fit inside your ear and don’t provide any noise isolation, which causes people using them to turn the volume up louder.

As a general rule, set your music volume no higher than 60 to 70 percent of the maximum, and limit listening to one hour per day. Doing so will ensure that you can enjoy your favorite media without harming your hearing.

 

Download the December 2017 Safety Focused Newsletter PDF