Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Reactive to Proactive – An Early Intervention Approach to Health Promotion

Dr. Rolf Gomes
Founder and Cardiologist, Heart of Australia Corporate Health Initiative

Despite the enormous resources committed by the Mining Industry in developing workplace health and safety initiatives, the average health of the mining workforce still lags white collar employees.

Drivers of poor physical and psychological health amongst mining workers are often ‘external’ and lifestylerelated, commonly developing during the ‘crunch years’ (i.e. 25-50 when juggling increasing workplace and family responsibilities). These preventable health issues not only impact the growing burden of chronic illness in Australia but increase health and safety risks and contribute to diminished workplace performance.

Traditional attempts to address this issue have not commonly delivered long-term tangible outcomes for the individual or organisation. A more effective early intervention approach is required, incorporating contemporary biomedical, lifestyle, social and organisational research data. As well as having a rigorous clinical underpinning, new health screening programs need to be packaged into cost-effective and operationally efficient delivery models that enable democratised access across large workforces.

Successful early-intervention health programs across the Mining Industry offer significant mutual benefit to employees, workplaces and local communities alike (particularly via ‘network effects’ that exist within close-knit mining communities). Although currently lagging, the Mining Industry has the potential to become a recognised leader in this critical workplace and societal issue.