The last fortnight has been very busy for all of us at Cognate Health. I spoke at the Health and Safety Review Conference on May 12 about the importance of connecting workplace health and safety. There were over 200 Health and Safety Practitioners there on the day, which was once again well organized by Herbert Mulligan. Subsequently, I had an in depth conversation with Eilish O’Regan, the Health Correspondent for the Irish Independent, and an on-air discussion with Newstalk’s Pat Kenny about stress in the workplace.
We addressed the toll that stress is taking on the Irish workforce. Longer hours and new roles can strain the best of us, but when you introduce constantly changing technology and job insecurity as well, many people reach breaking point. The workplace demands mean having to deal with new ways of communication, which did not exist over a decade ago. As a consequence of being unable to relax or take a break, burnout can occur.
Stress is now the number one health hazard in the workplace and is creating increased reporting of absenteeism and consequently poor morale, loss of productivity and falling profits. Finding and correcting the direct cause of stress is the best way to overcome it. On a personal level the first step any of us must take is to regain some control in our lives and my experience is that this is often best achieved by committing to increasing the amount of exercise we take. My colleague, Dr Susan Hill, wrote a piece on exercise here for you to read.
Amidst all this, my colleagues and I have re-branded EHA Consulting to Cognate Health, a new national network of quality approved occupational health physicians (OHP’s) aiming to provide employers across Ireland with instant access to occupational physicians wherever they are located. Cognate Health will also save employers time and money by providing a single point of contact when making medical appointments and obtaining reports, ensuring a quicker turnaround on employee injury and illness. This will significantly reduce absenteeism and increased productivity for companies, especially for those with a large dispersed workforce.
In addition to the above and in association with my presentation at the Health & Safety Conference, Cognate Health is promoting a new connected approach to health, safety and wellness in the workplace with the overall aim of changing the way Irish employers approach the health of their workforce. With increasing evidence underlining the benefits of integrating health and safety programmes with health promotion and wellness initiative, it now makes business sense to pursue safer, healthier, and happier workers.