Overview: Not only are healthy employees more productive and absent less, and have lower health care costs, but having a successful employee health program means that employers are less likely to be fined for OSHA violations. When it comes to employee health concerns, there are many different considerations to take, including day to day concerns, widespread epidemics, mental health, smoking in and out of the workplace, and medical emergencies.
Having an employee health program that takes care of all the different health concerns will mean that the workplace is prepared for any different contingency. Plans might include training workers in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver, installing an AED, teaching proper employee hygiene having flexible work schedules, establishing Employee Assistance Programs and Wellness Programs and creating no-smoking environments, among many others.
Whenever health issues are involved, though, it is important to take into account the Americans with Disabilities Act and what it will, or will not, allow you to do. This is especially pertinent when dealing with mental health concerns.
Trends: While many states have banned smoking in the workplace for years, it's not common knowledge that smoking outside the workplace is often a protected activity. Unless there is a valid reason for doing so, such as if the employer's main purpose is to teach the importance of smoking cessation, use caution before implementing policies regarding off-work smoking as it may be considered discriminatory.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
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HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee health programs. Support on keeping employees healthy and productive while at work.