Health and wellbeing at work films
This series of short films focus on how workers can improve their health and wellbeing by making small changes and healthy lifestyle choices to improve fatigue and stress.
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I'm Dr Nick Gilson from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland. In this series of short videos we'll be introducing the concept of energy balance and looking at how workers in the manufacturing, construction, resource and transport industries can improve their health by making small changes in the way they work.
Energy balance is the difference between how much energy we take in through food and drink and the energy we use when we move. Balancing the energy scales can help achieve a healthy body weight, lower the chances of developing problems such as heart disease and diabetes and improve how we deal with fatigue and stress.
Managing energy balance and work can be difficult because work commitments and time pressures often lead to inactivity and a poor diet. But the good news is that energy and balance and weight gain aren't inevitable consequences of the work you do. Making the right lifestyle choices can balance the energy scales and make a real lasting difference to your health.
Being aware of how much time you spend moving and what you eat and drink are the first steps towards making healthier choices. Before making any changes self monitoring can help you become aware of the types of choices you're already making. Health apps can help with this or you can simply make a written note of your daily activity and what you eat and drink during the week.
Once you've built up a picture of your movement and diet choices you're ready to target unhealthy habits and behaviours. You don't have to make big changes to make a difference. In fact big changes are much harder to make and more difficult to maintain. Small changes that become an important part of your regular work routine are the way to go. These types of changes can help you tip the energy scales in your favour.
For example try alternating between sitting and standing during admin tasks or toolbox meetings. Changing your body position will active muscles and get your blood flowing. Also look for opportunities to move whenever you can and gradually increase the amount of moving you do. Use a parking space furthest away from the depot entrance. Find the time to take a 10 minute walk with a mate during a work break or ride your bike to work once a week. These are great ways of getting energy expenditure back into your work day.
As well as moving more also think about stretching and toning exercises. A 30 minute visit to the gym once a week can help you stay trim, strong and flexible. If the gym doesn't appeal or you don't have time there are other options. Use the natural environment and your own body weight. Ten push-ups and 10 leg squats three times each day will give your muscles a good workout.
Good energy balance also means making good choices about the fuel you put in your body. This is particularly important because it's easier to consume energy than to burn it which means weight gain can creep up on you. For example you'd need to run 30 minutes non stop to burn off a full sugar can of soft drink.
Manage the energy you take in by avoiding fried, processed foods high in fatty sugar. Choose fresh food and lower fat sugar options rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. If it's difficult to find healthy food at work take control of what you eat by preparing your own meal. Home made sandwiches, salads or a cooked meal of lean meat and steamed vegetables are good choices.
For work snacks think fruit or mixed raw nuts to give you a boost rather than chocolate or chips. Finally drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Avoid energy or sports drinks and high sugar soft drinks. Use low fat rather than full fat milk and try not to put sugar in your tea and coffee.
Good energy balance is your choice. Be aware of how much you move and what you eat and drink. Move more. Choose food and drinks low in fat and sugar. In our next videos we'll hear from companies and workers from your industry on how they are making the right choices for healthy energy balance.
RUN TIME: 4mins 49sec
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This film discusses the challenges the construction, manufacturing, oil and gas and transport industries face in motivating their workers to lead healthier lifestyles. It focuses on different initiatives to encourage workers to make healthy lifestyle choices.
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Amy Sproule: Chronic disease is one of the big situations that a lot of our employees find themselves in. There are strong links in research between fatigue, lack of sleep and obesity.
Emily Whimster: I would definitely consider mental health issues to be at the forefront of health issues experienced out on site as well as maintaining that healthy balance. And it is definitely possible to overeat or comfort eat out here and to neglect the healthier options.
Ben Evans: The long working hours that are required of workers in the construction industry obviously reduces the opportunities that the guys have for structured physical activity outside of work.
Stephanie Calderbank: Physical inactivity and poor dietary choices are key aspects of poor employee health that we often come across. We can often see isolation playing a role for our people working in rural and remote locations.
Emily Whimster: I think that the responsibility for health does come down to each individual to grasp their opportunities but for them to take that opportunity they need to be given that opportunity and that's where I think management needs to provide options to their workers.
Amy Sproule: To try and get people more active within the manufacturing industry here at Yatala we have a number of initiatives here on site. We have a walking group. We have a group of people that every morning they go out and they have a walk around the Brewery. Twenty minutes is not a great deal of time for people to be away from work especially when you look at the outcomes that you can get.
The other thing that we do with our physio service our physio is an exercise physiologist. So we certainly promote getting active and being healthy in that way. My role here at Carlton United Breweries is to try and help that health seeking behaviour with the guys so they can get whatever medical attention they need when they need it and early, not before they get so sick that they can't perform at work or their performance suffers.
Ben Evans: So some of the initiatives that we've looked to implement include a financial co-contribution in order to get some touch football teams organised. If there's no access to healthy food options we've implemented a weekly fruit delivery to that site. Only recently we've implemented a site resource list. When a site is starting up I'll generally go out and have a look at the area to ascertain if there's any options for the healthy eating, do the local councils offer free or low cost activities which more often than not they do.
Emily Whimster: Back in the office we have a cycling group that meets every week. We've had a 10,000 step challenge that went out across site. We've brought in gym equipment and set up a little gym here on site. We've opened a running and walking track. It fits in with the walk home. So we don't have to drive home. We can let off steam and have time to get outdoors and actually get in touch with nature a little bit and watch a beautiful sunset.
Amy Sproule: Providing education resources, providing healthy nutrition for people to have as their option when they're at work. With the canteen we've had a look at all the different options we can do to try and improve the quality and the nutritional value of the food that they have available to them.
Stephanie Calderbank: We're definitely seeing a shift where health promotion and health and wellbeing isn't being seen as just an employee benefit and actually using behaviour change principles to have sustainable effective change.
Ben Evans: If we can evaluate the success of the health and wellbeing program or the various initiatives we can see the positive impact not only on the health of our workers but the bottom line from a financial point of view.
Stephanie Calderbank: The advice that I would give to someone coming in to a work health promotion role is to understand their workforce before they put anything into place. You need to establish a baseline so that you can monitor those small elements of change. You need to be realistic that increases to productivity and decreases to absenteeism isn't a short term goal. It is about long, sustainable changes and a journey that the organisation must take.
Ben Evans: You need to be persistent. You need to have a structured program with goals and measureable outcomes as well.
Emily Whimster: Understand what gets those people excited and try and find something along the lines of the healthy living and community type events that they can get involved in that they're passionate about.
Amy Sproule: Get out into the work space. Talk to people and observe. You will learn so much about what issues are important to them even through general conversation about their family. So get personal with the people that you're working with.
Stephanie Calderbank: I'm really motivated to work in this industry. It's very rewarding and you do feel as if you're making a difference.
Ben Evans: And I get a great deal of satisfaction out of helping people and helping them achieve their health goals. You know they've participated in these initiatives and they've really got the benefits out of that and it's had a positive influence, not only on how well they're doing at work but also in their home lives and relationships at home. That's very satisfying for me.
RUN TIME: 6mins 03sec
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The construction industry can be physically and mentally stressful. This film discusses how small changes in lifestyle and planning ahead can have a large impact on your health and energy levels.
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Seamus Ryan: I'm motivated to stay healthy in my job one to help me in doing my day-to-day activities which can be quite physical and mentally stressful and also to allow me to have energy for the evening when I get home to my family.
I've worked in the construction industry for 10 years now in Australia. In my time in the construction industry I think attitudes have changed. I think people are a lot more aware of the different health issues that are relevant to the construction industry. However I think it takes a while for people to actually adapt their lifestyles to these changes.
William Turnbull: I've made some big changes in probably the last two years. The real catalyst for me was the birth of my daughter and once you start to change a few things and everything gets better and you feel better then it motivates you to keep going.
Seamus Ryan: Some of the things I've found that help me stay healthy at work would be one to try and do a little bit of exercise in the morning before I go to work even if it just means a short walk with the dog or some light stretching. Planning for meals is a big one. I always try and make sure we do a shop at the weekend and I buy some of the foods that I know I'm going to eat for lunches. My partner has helped a lot in that as well. I think you need your whole family on board as regards planning your meals. When I'm at work my job involves being out on site a lot but also being in the office. So I find simple things like standing up, going for a bit of a walk when you're taking phone calls or not sitting for extended periods of time to try and split the desk work over the course of the day rather than spending an extended period of time sitting at the desk.
William Turnbull: Watch what you eat which is very obvious but sometimes not as obvious as you may think because there's a lot of misinformation around and then just putting the time and effort into doing it. You know, it might take a little extra preparation in the evenings or the mornings to make your lunch or cook your dinner fresh rather than, you know, take-away and that and the quicker options. The small changes added up and I started to feel better and that makes your work easier and more comfortable. And from there it just sort of snowballs and everything gets easier and you feel better and you keep building on it.
The industry is definitely headed in the right direction. Companies like Shamrock seem to be at the forefront of this with the Health and Wellbeing Department which was unheard of when I came into the industry. There's still a way to go but we're well on the way to getting there.
Seamus Ryan: The best advice I could give to a new worker starting out in construction would be to take advantage of the resources available to them. Get involved in any healthy initiatives that their company is promoting and to try and start with good habits - preparing their own food, healthy eating, keeping hydrated. Do not allow the long working hours and days to deter you from keeping involved in sporting activities.
William Turnbull: Cutting out the liquid calories I suppose, so your soft drinks, your ice coffees, all those sort of things, drink more water and then just eat fresh, real food. Take the stairs instead of the escalator when you're at the shops. So the small things add up.
My favourite lunches is leftover dinner. So whatever you're having for dinner make a bit extra and take that or just knock up a salad and cook an extra steak and throw it in the lunch box. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The big motivation for me to stay healthy and active is to be around for my family. I want to walk my daughter down the aisle and be a grandfather and all those things and the choices that I make now will influence whether I'm around to do those things later on.
RUN TIME: 4mins 41sec
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This film discusses different strategies workers in the manufacturing industry can take to improve their health and wellbeing. It features Carlton United Breweries who organise onsite physios, dieticians, and a doctor to conduct yearly health checks on their employees.
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Karl Smith: Recently I've just been diagnosed with diabetes. My eyesight started going. It was important to me to get on top of the diabetes. I have achieved that. I've maintained my sugar levels to the extent that my eyesight has come back to normal. I'm starting to lose a little bit of weight that I've gained. I'm actually feeling like I've got a lot more energy for home and for work.
The health challenges in this industry from my point of view comes down to shift work. Most of the time here we go from one shift to another so from day shift to night shift. So your body clock does get out of whack. All of a sudden you're eating dinners when it's normally breakfast times and your body has to get to know that.
Vic Pearson: My main motivation to stay healthy is that I don't want to die. I want to live a long life and enjoy my grandchildren. I want them to grow up with me and enjoy life.
From what I see here most of the workers here are very healthy eaters. The canteen is a fantastic part of it because they serve some great food, absolutely fantastic food. They have a range called Healthy Choice as well which I buy most of the time. It's smaller portions but fantastic food.
Karl Smith: The things that I have been doing and changed to get on top of my health is I've been taking the time out to prepare my meals a bit better. I've been selective with the food that I buy, the selection of food at home that my family are enjoying and it's not that hard to prepare.
My job recently I've been office based but I will rather than ring up someone at the other end of the plant I'll go for a walk. So just placing that little bit of extra exercise in there I think is helping me out.
Vic Pearson: I do a lot of walking here but on the weekends or at night time I'll go for a walk. On an average weekend I'll take my granddaughters for walks and it's nothing for me to cover 15 k's or more on a weekend. That's walking. If I just want to go to the shops and don't need a car I walk.
Karl Smith: The industry in general I think gradually they're responding to the health and wellbeing of the employees through companies like us promoting it. They see there might be an expense there on the outlay of providing these services but those services tend to keep the employees at work longer which helps with their efficiencies. I think once they see the benefits to them it's enormous for them.
We implement things like physio. We have dieticians, a doctor that comes on site that will do our health checks once a year.
Vic Pearson: They measure a lot of things. Not only blood pressure, your weight – just general wellbeing. It's important they measure your blood pressure for me personally and I'm sure there's a lot of other people on site with high blood pressure because sometimes it's very hot here. You're doing a lot of heavy work and it's good to monitor.
Probably the first thing I'd say to a new worker is we get offered all these benefits – the physio, the podiatrist, good food – use them because if you don't use them you lose them.
Karl Smith: If I have a new worker coming to work here and I was the worker's mentor I think that I would – the advice that I would give them would be is to really plan your meals, take the time to eat healthy, take the time out to exercise. It's all about managing your time to be able to take the time to do these things. Sometimes you might not know how much you'll benefit from it until you've done it.
RUN TIME: 4mins 27sec
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This film discusses small lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on worker's health and wellbeing. Choices that you make now can have a positive impact on your health for the future.
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John McCrohan: Thirty years ago the industry was such that you'd go to the pub and have half a dozen pots for lunch and now obviously there's a massive change in culture where it's just no longer acceptable to go to the pub and have half a dozen pots for lunch. Now there's been a massive change in education towards lifestyle choices and there's also been a lot more support for out of work hours for people that might have issues at home.
What motivates me to stay healthy is obviously I've got a family at home. I've been married for 25 years. I have three kids. For me it's an easy choice. I just want to keep myself reasonably fit and healthy. So that's what motivates me. Also to work in this industry you do have to be reasonably fit and reasonably healthy. So without going over the top I just like to keep myself fit for that reason.
Justin Chase: Depression is a big thing in this industry in the fly-in fly-out lifestyle. So I just try and fill my time with as much positivity as I can. So the gym, healthy eating. This is your bread and butter and you're here for a reason and that's because of your loved one. So you've just got to keep remembering that.
I tend to not eat the sweets or the fatty foods. I tend to stick to a more healthier diet. I don't drink soft drink or some sports drinks. I consume a lot of water.
Shannon Chynoweth: It's not hard to put weight on whereas when you're trying to take weight off it's a lot longer. When I go into the canteen I try and take the healthier options. I try and limit myself to as much – like for the desserts and stuff like that I limit myself to once a week which helps me stay away from the bad stuff.
I try to train morning and night when I can. You can walk home here which is a good thing that Mono has provided us. They gave us a footpath to be able to walk. It's about three k's. Yeah a lot of the guys walk in groups and have a bit of a chat on the way home, a bit of bonding I guess. So that's 35 minutes of your afternoon gone and then come home, have a feed and do a bit of gym.
John McCrohan: I try to exercise daily and when I say "exercise daily" you don't have to go over the top. Some people like to do their gym and work out and whatnot but I sort of keep just a simple routine that works for me. I try to eat well. That's obviously important and I also try to get a lot of rest. I don't mind a beer like everyone but you've got to – you've got to sort of control that. That's probably a real big thing and that's what I do. It's sort of not really that difficult.
Shannon Chynoweth: My hobbies – well they're mainly sport orientated. I like to do rowing, rugby league, touch football and I guess if I sit in the camp here and don't do anything I'm going to be pretty slack when I get home and try and play those sports. I guess I'd like to think that I'd stay fit and healthy for my family.
John McCrohan: Each of the camps that we've been in have had pretty good gym setups if that's what you want to do. Some of the initiatives on this job recently is they've had a biggest loser challenge for those who feel they want to try and get on top of their weight. So that's a recent initiative. But yeah and even just being able to walk home from work is a good thing yeah. I want to be able to do things when I'm 65 or 67 or 75 so I know that I need to do the right things by myself to be able to achieve that. The information's there for you if you want and there's help there if you need it. You really want to be looking after your health for the future so that the future is a bright future.
RUN TIME: 4mins 27sec
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This film discusses the issues transport workers face including access to healthy food options when working in remote areas and the complications of working a rotating roster. Pacific National discuss their initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle and to encourage their workers to make healthy lifestyle choices.
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Aaron Markley: I believe the health challenges that we face in this particular industry – there's two major ones. Firstly is fatigue through lack of sleep and secondly would be the sedentary nature of our jobs. Because we work a rotating roster we sleep when we can, whether it be day, night, afternoon, late morning. You do become fatigued and as a result you do find it hard to want to exercise.
You do find it hard to sometimes prepare the meals that you need to prepare for work because you might wake up tired. You might try and get as much sleep as you can in before work and then as a result you might be running late and you might decide to get a take-away instead.
Sometimes those take-aways might only be service station food because you might be starting at a ridiculous hour and as a result the only thing that might be left is something from the hot box.
Jarryd Sisley: Remote work environment offers limited access to fitness facilities such as gyms and other fitness based activities. Healthy options in these remote environments is very limited with often the extremes being service stations and local corner stores which don't offer the same healthy options the metropolitan regions offer.
The exercises that are done on the pre starts are a fantastic way of encouraging routine within the maintenance facility workers. It's a way of engaging them and also making sure that they're getting that boost of energy first thing in the morning just to be rearing and ready to go for the day's activities.
Aaron Markley: Our company does try and provide sport and recreational activities outside of work. They also host boot camps. We have a senior health promotion specialist who provides us with nutritional information like dietary ideas, exercise information and like health advice and tips. So they do try to point us in the right direction.
I try and prepare my own meals. You try and buy fruit and veg when you go to the supermarket and try and purchase leaner meats, cut back on all sugars and fats that you can.
Jarryd Sisley: There is no difference between living in a camp and the routines that I would encourage myself to be in when living in a home environment. So I try to keep to the same routines, the same start times, same routine around eating three meals a day, keeping regular exercise and activity part of that and varying that so that there was options.
I found cycling to work, cycling after work, running and finding like-minded people in the same environment as a motivator.
Aaron Markley: Find good quality sleep as much as you possibly can when you can, to eat a balanced diet of good quality food and try and reduce the quantity of food that you eat and to exercise each day.
Jarryd Sisley: The advice I would give a new employee would be succinctly balance. That is the most crucial point of being able to be healthy and happy in working in the rail industry.
RUN TIME: 4mins 42sec
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- Last updated
- 15 October 2015