Healthy Work - Challenges and Opportunities to 2030 - British report published

A British provider of private health care insurance and health care - Bupa -
has published a report bringinging together the analysis on the range of
opportunities and challenges for individuals, employers and Government in
managing and preventing ill-health in the UK workforce. A second report to be
published later in 2009 will set out recommendations on how these stakeholders
can respond to the challenges. The aim is to understand the challenges and also
to ensure that they are seen as real opportunities to bring benefits to
individuals, employers, and the health care system.

The health of the working-age population will be a critical factor in the UKs
competitiveness as we emerge from recession. This important report highlights
the need to see modern workplaces as the focus for efforts to improve the
physical and psychological wellbeing of workers and makes a vital contribution
to a very current debate. By taking a long-term view, and by emphasising the
role that Good Work can play in enhancing employee health, this report shows
that we need to attend to both the symptoms and the underlying causes of
ill-health in the UK workforce. One of the most noteworthy findings is that the
burden of chronic disease in the UK is set to grow in significance. This
represents both an economic and social challenge of severe proportions yet the
UKs workplaces can play a major role in mitigating the risks this trend poses.

This report analyses future opportunities and challenges for workplace health
interventions to 2030. It considers whether the way that we live and work
affects how we manage and prevent ill-health in the workplace. The health of
the UK workforce is vital to the economy. The Confederation of British Industry
estimates that every year days lost due to sickness absence alone cost the
economy nearly 14 billion. The costs to society are even greater. In her review
of the health of the working age population, Dame Carol Black, National
Director for Health and Work, found that the annual costs of sickness absence
and worklessness associated with working age ill-health are over 100 billion.

And the situation is likely to get worse. The UK workforce of the future will
be older and sicker, and the nature of illness will change so more people will
be living and working in ill-health. At the same time, interventions in the
workplace will become increasingly important for productivity and public
health; and changes in the society and culture of the UK are likely to mean
that more people will be engaging in lifestyle behaviours that increase their
risk of disease.

The workplace is an effective location to address these challenges, not least
because the average person spends over a third of their waking hours for up to
40 years of their life at work. Employers are well placed to support UK workers
to exercise more, smoke less and eat more healthily, because they can make the
kind of physical changes to the working environment that help people sustain
behaviour changes and integrate them into their daily life. The workplace also
offers the opportunity to target those in society at risk of disease, and those
who would otherwise be unlikely to access health services in the
community. And it can do this whilst delivering value for money to employers,
through improved employee productivity and wellbeing.

More info - Source: Bupa Health Care