How Ohio’s safety councils embraced health and wellness

By Michelle Francisco, Ohio Safety Council Program Manager

Just over a year ago, BWC challenged Ohio’s 83 safety councils to incorporate health and wellness topics into their otherwise traditional subject matter scope of safety, accident prevention and risk management. How they responded, the interest it raised and the energy it ignited may surprise you.

Safety councils host monthly employer meetings in their local communities and are a trusted resource for high quality safety education and information. So, given BWC’s emphasis on health and wellness and the proven association between a person’s general health and how quickly they can return to work after an occupational injury, it made perfect sense to combine the two.

Safety councils quickly went into action to identify health and wellness topics of interest to their members, tap into local health and wellness resources and outline a plan for investing the $350,000 in statewide funding associated with the initiative.

Since that time, over 350 meetings, seminars and special events have featured health and wellness topics and have been attended by thousands of Ohio employers. Just a few of those topics included:

  • Wellness programs – Where to Start
  • Sleep Disorders and the Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
  • Nutrition: Choose Wisely – It Could Save Your Life
  • Eating Health for a Healthy Life
  • Dealing with Stress
  • Keys to Maximizing Your Energy
  • Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle
  • How to Have a Healthier Heart
  • Smoking Cessation

Beyond presenting health and wellness topics in their monthly meeting forum, many safety councils created unique wellness initiatives themselves. For example,

  • In Northwest Ohio, a six-seminar Health & Wellness Seminar Series was developed that included wellness at work consultations, screenings, assessments and take-away resources.
  • In Sandusky County, annual Health and Wellness Awards were presented to recognize employers who promoted and engaged employees in healthy options and health education.
  • The Grand Lake and Van Wert communities combined their resources to bring a nationally recognized wellness speaker to their region – Sara Martin Rauch – Director of Strategy & Planning for the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).
  • In Portage County, as a result of a coalition among many local resources, a 24-page ‘Engaging Your Workforce in Wellness!’ publication was created to make a case for implementing health and wellness programs.
  • In Summit County, these engaged safety council attendees below were hearing a presentation on reducing stress from “America’s Nutrition Leader” Zonya Foco after visiting an on-site blood pressure station.

safety council pic

Choosing to live a healthier life can result in significant change. It’s not just about being better prepared to bounce back from an occupational injury. It can mean losing 11 pounds, as it did for one person giving up pop in a 30-Day ‘Water Challenge’ or several attendees participating in a skin cancer screening who were identified as having pre-cancerous spots who were advised to seek immediate treatment.

The safety council health and wellness initiative has raised awareness, improved the culture of health across the state and equipped people to fulfill their highest potential in work and life.

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