Author Archive

Hepatitis: Find The Missing Millions

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

Every year on July 28th, we observe World Hepatitis Day. This is a day to raise awareness and connect those infected with proper care. It is estimated that nearly 300 million people are walking around infected, completely unaware. The main way to remedy this issue is to spread awareness, encourage people to get tested, and receive treatment.

Prevention

The goal is to eradicate all forms of viral hepatitis by the year 2030. While we’ve seen a decrease in diseases like tuberculosis and HIV, cases of hepatitis have continued to rise. The CDC’s main tool of prevention has been to encourage vaccination. Both hep A and B have vaccines, with hep B being most commonly spread from an infected mother to her child during birth. This is why the hep B vaccination is recommended for infants before leaving the hospital.

Hep C, D, and E do not yet have vaccines. However, hep C can be treated in 90 percent of cases. Hep D is only contracted when an individual is already infected with hep B. So vaccinating against hep B can also protect against hep D.

Types of Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis comprises types A, B, D, D, and E. These are infectious diseases that spread easily from person to person and lead to liver disease.

Hepatitis A – Hep A is rarely fatal, but does cause some serious symptoms. In the US it is spread through close personal contact with someone who is infected. Poor sanitation and hygiene can also lead to its spread worldwide.

Hepatitis B – This virus is the one most commonly spread from mother to infant at birth. This is why it is recommended that all infants receive the vaccine as soon after birth as possible. Hep B can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C – There is currently no vaccine for Hep C, although 90% of cases are able to be cured. This virus is usually transferred through infected blood, by the sharing of needles or improper medical treatment. The research for a vaccine is ongoing.

Hepatitis D – Hep D can only be contracted by someone already infected with Hep B. So even though there is no vaccine for it, the best way to prevent it is by being vaccinated for Hep B.

Hepatitis E – Hep E is typically contracted from contaminated drinking water, usually in areas with poor sanitation and water filtration. It is most deadly to pregnant women.

How to Get Tested

So while millions are walking around infected with hepatitis, they are unknowingly endangering themselves and others. We need to get those who are infected tested and connected to treatment. How do you get tested? A simple blood test can be performed by your doctor. This will determine what type of virus you may have as well as its severity. The doctor may also examine your liver to look for signs of inflammation.

Someone can be infected with the virus and not show any symptoms for years. So it’s important to get tested if you fall into any one of these categories:

  • Baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964) are much more likely to be infected.
  • Anyone who has had a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992
  • Anyone who has ever (even once) injected illegal drugs or shared needles.
  • People with tattoos.
  • Anyone born to someone infected with a hepatitis virus.

Treatment Options

In general, most forms of hepatitis are either treatable or resolve on their own with rest and proper care. For acute hep C and chronic forms of both hep B and C, an antiviral medication may be prescribed. There are no medications available at this time to treat hep D or E. If extensive damage is done to a person’s liver, a liver transplant may be required.

For more in-depth information about hepatitis, its symptoms, and treatment options, please visit the links in our Wellness Observance Calendar. We have the most comprehensive Wellness Calendar available and we offer it to you as a free download for your resource!

Health Benefits of Massage

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Each July we observe Every Body Deserves a Massage Week to promote the health benefits of Massage in our communities. Often we think of massage as merely a luxury or spa type of experience. However, we will see that given its health benefits, it’s much more than that. More than just loosening tight muscles and being relaxing overall, massage can provide some real relief from a variety of health issues.

Health Benefits of Massage

Increase in Serotonin Levels

Massage has been found to increase serotonin levels in the brain, our brain’s “happy” chemical.  More serotonin production has led to a decrease in chronic pain like fibromyalgia sufferers. It’s also shown to help decrease back pain, headaches, and even arthritis. Massage has been known to lower inflammation throughout the body, alleviating many conditions stemming from inflammation.

Rising levels of serotonin can also contribute to a better night’s sleep. Those who suffer from insomnia have found massage to be a great natural alternative to the many habit-forming medications currently prescribed as sleep aids. There are no long term side effects to massage as there are with narcotics making it a much safer choice.

A Decrease in Cortisol Hormone

Cortisol, our stress hormone, is responsible for much of our body’s ailments. Massage has a relaxing effect that decreases stress. This alleviates tension headaches, lower back pain, anxiety, and even depression.

A drop in cortisol levels can also help decrease blood glucose, making it extremely beneficial to diabetics. The increased blood flow provided by massage helps promote the effectiveness of insulin in the body, providing better blood glucose levels.

Increased circulation and decreased inflammation can also contribute to a better range of motion and flexibility. People with high blood pressure have also found frequent massage to be effective in lowering blood pressure.

Stimulation of The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system carries fluid throughout the body. Health conditions that interrupt this flow contribute to swelling and lymph fluid build-up. Things like infections and cancer treatments can damage lymph nodes and create problems like lymphedema. Certain types of massage help to improve the lymphatic system, restoring the body’s natural processes.

As with any medical treatment, it’s best to consult with your physician about what methods might be best for you. Most of the health benefits listed here are found through regular massage treatments. Please visit our Wellness Observance Calendar for more information on Massage and to stay up to date on future health observances.

UV Safety Tips: Simple Ways to Protect Yourself from Harmful UV Rays

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

We all know we need to protect ourselves from the sun. UV radiation can be harmful to our skin in multiple ways. It speeds up the aging process, suppresses the immune system, can cause sunburn, and increases our risk for skin cancer. Even synthetic UV rays from tanning beds can cause harm to our skin often creating an even higher risk of skin cancer.

During the month of July, we observe UV Safety Month. Throughout the month we will spread awareness about various ways to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays. Are you providing yourself and your loved ones with full protection? We want to share a few tips to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

Seek Out the Shade

During the Sun’s most direct rays, between 10 am and 4 pm, it’s important to seek out the shade when possible. If there’s no shade available, bring your own! A broad-rimmed hat or ball cap can provide extra shelter from the sun for your face. The skin on your face is one of the most vulnerable to the sun since it is always exposed.

Remember that UV rays may still be able to reach you, even in shade. This is most likely when you are near reflective surfaces like sand, snow, or water. So wear your sunscreen even in the shade.

Understanding SPF: Sun Protection Factor

What SPF should you be looking for in your Sunscreen? What does it even mean? SPF or Sun Protection Factor indicates how long you will be protected in the Sun. If you wear an SPF of 10, your skin will take 10 times longer to burn than it would if left unprotected. However, the FDA recommends using a minimum SPF of 15 and most doctors recommend a 30 SPF minimum.

No matter what SPF you choose, experts also say you should reapply every 2 hours. More frequent reapplication may be necessary when swimming or excessively sweating.

It’s also important to note that SPF only protects against UVB rays. UVB radiation damages the skin causing sunburn. But UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin causing aging and also posing the risk of skin cancer. Choosing a sunscreen labeled, “broad spectrum” or “full-spectrum” will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Don’t Forget these Hidden Spots

It’s easy to remember that we need sunscreen on our shoulders, back, arms, and legs. What about those places we commonly miss? Be sure to protect your ears, the part in your hair, and the tops of your feet. Lips are another important, but easily forgotten part of the body to protect. Wear a lip balm with SPF and reapply frequently.

Harmful UV rays are partly responsible for vision-related problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. So be sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses specifically labeled with 99% UV protection.

More UV Safety Tips

For more information on UV Safety Month, visit our Wellness Observance Calendar. You can also receive a free download of our entire 2020 Calendar to stay up to date on future Wellness Observances throughout the year.

5 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise

Monday, March 30th, 2020

This May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. We know that exercise is such a crucial element to good health. However, approximately 70% of people in American are overweight and out of shape. Heart disease is still our number one killer and the average American spends five hours in front of a television screen daily. This wellness observance is an excellent time to promote fitness at any level and work to lessen those numbers. Here we will address some common reasons why people may not exercise and offer some suggestions to overcome them.

Reason #1. “I have no time to exercise.”

This is perhaps the most common misconception about exercise. Many of us have very busy, hectic schedules. But the reality is that what we make time for reveals our priorities. You may think you have no time to exercise, but do you have time for all the health complications that may come from a sedentary lifestyle?

Time is relative. Each of us has twenty-four hours in a day. Take a look at your daily calendar and make a note of what you actually do to fill each hour. You may not have time to devote two hours at the gym every day. However, nearly everyone has ten to twenty minutes a day. You can take a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner each night.

Often times we believe that if we can’t do something the “right” way or invest in it the way we think we should, we can’t do it at all. But if we truly understood the value of consistency over time, we would realize how even small efforts make a big difference. Where our health and fitness is concerned, 20 minutes a day of exercise can make all the difference in the world.

Reason #2. “I can’t afford a gym membership or personal trainer.”

With technology being what it is today, you really don’t need a gym membership to get in shape. You may still enjoy the social, community aspect of fitness. Join a Facebook group or on-line fitness group. Accountability is great, but it doesn’t have to cost money. Even meeting up with a friend can be a great way to stay motivated and get healthy together.

There are plenty of workout videos for free on platforms like YouTube and Pinterest. Find your favorite fitness blogger to follow on Instagram for diet and exercise tips and programs. The number of resources is plenty, but that can also be overwhelming, especially to a beginner. Start small and go from there. Perhaps choose one workout plan or video to stick with first and then branch out as you progress in your fitness.

You don’t really even need technology or a gym. Just get outside and move your body! Have a private dance party in your own bedroom, play a game of basketball, go for a swim. The main idea is just to get up and move every single day. Get your heart-rate up and build muscle. Your body will thank you for it.

Reason #3. “I have bad knees/back/other health issues.”

It’s certainly a legitimate concern when you have underlying health issues that make it more challenging to exercise. However, it’s only more detrimental to your health to let them stop you. Be sure to consult your doctor about what exercise may be beneficial to you. Do you have bad joints? Exercises like walking, the elliptical machine or swimming may be your best options. There are even some seated workouts available.

Don’t hesitate to modify strength training exercises to fit your needs. When you are carrying a lot of extra weight, it can be difficult to perform certain exercises. Modification is a great way to get started. Gradually, as your fitness level improves, you may not need to modify. Many of your current health issues may even disappear as your habit of exercise increases your overall health.

Reason #4. “I have too much weight to lose. It won’t make much of a difference.”

It can be overwhelming to start an exercise program when you feel you have so far to go. Set small, incremental goals for yourself. Don’t expect changes in your body overnight. Your main goal in creating a habit of exercise should be just that – creating a habit. Exercise is part of a lifestyle. Losing weight or gaining muscle can be great benefits, but they should always come secondary to your health.

Take it one day a time and celebrate what your body is capable of doing! When you exercise, it isn’t to punish yourself for eating poorly. Exercise is a way to care for your body and your health.

Maybe you’re already thin and think you don’t need exercise. Thin does not equal healthy! Your heart and lungs still need exercise. Exercise is not about weight, but about health.

Reason #5. “I just don’t like to exercise.”

Maybe you genuinely just don’t like exercise. That’s fair! But if you don’t like to do something, it is very easy to find reasons not to do it. If you don’t like an exercise, don’t do it! Find something you do like to do. Don’t like running? Don’t run. Simply walk or ride a bike. Take a dance class or take up yoga. You have plenty of options to choose from. Exercise can be fun! You just have to find the right fit for you. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it!

Visit our National Wellness Calendar to learn more about National Physical Fitness and Sports month.

Read our Wellness Blog on Promoting Observances in your workplace.

Managing Your Allergy Symptoms Naturally

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Spring is in the air – and so is pollen. It’s that time of year when seasonal allergies are at an all time high. Over the counter allergy medications help, but most of us prefer a natural remedy when we can find one. Sometimes OTC medications just aren’t doing enough to relieve the severity of your symptoms. We have gathered some all natural ideas for you, but be sure to run them by your doctor to make sure they’re the best options for your specific case.

Your Body’s Response to Allergens

Your body senses allergens as a foreign, negative agent that needs attacking! It produces proteins called “histamines” to get to work and eliminate the allergens from your body. These create symptoms in your body like itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat even atopic dermatitis. Even though these symptoms are uncomfortable, it’s evidence that your body is doing a good job!

What your body needs to ease these symptoms is anti-histamines and anything that reduces inflammation in the body. If we can reduce inflammation, we can reduce the severity of symptoms. There are plenty of natural agents that combat inflammation and we’ll talk about several.

Reducing Inflammation

There are so many natural aids that deal with inflammation in the body. We’re going to choose just a few to discuss here, but feel free to do your own research on other options you may have.

Vitamin C is everybody’s favorite immune booster, but with good reason! It is one of the most powerful antioxidants, which is incredibly beneficial since allergies create oxidative stress in the body. It’s also an excellent anti-inflammatory and 2 grams of vitamin C daily can act as an anti-histamine. Whether in supplement form or in your diet, make sure you’re getting plenty of Vitamin C to start.

Bromelain is another popular anti-inflammatory. It’s an enzyme found naturally in pineapple, but you can also find it in supplement form. It’s been used as a treatment post surgery, and has been found especially helpful for inflammation in the sinuses.

Probiotics are essential for good gut health and gut health boosts your immune system. But where allergies are concerned, your immune system may be in “hyper-drive” or over reacting. Taking a good probiotic (They are not all created equal. Do your research and consult your doctor.) will help bring balance back to your immune system, reducing inflammation in the body and lessening the body’s overactive immune response.

Milk Thistle & Turmeric are both great liver support. When your body is full of toxins, your liver is working hard and may struggle to eliminate allergens. This may make your allergy symptoms worse. Be kind to your liver by reducing your intake of fatty, fried foods, alcohol and sugar. Taking a supplement containing milk thistle and turmeric can be very beneficial for detoxing your liver and may lead to a decrease in your allergy symptoms.

Eliminating Allergens

We can’t very well stay locked inside all day, every day and most of us don’t want to. But there are some simple ways we can try to eliminate a few of the allergens that trigger symptoms, without lessening our quality of life.

Taking frequent showers, especially after spending extended time outdoors will help to wash away allergens that you are carrying on your body or in your hair. Vacuuming frequently and changing your pillowcase often can also help.

Change your air filter regularly. Invest in a dehumidifier to eliminate extra moisture that may be contributing to any mold or mildew growth in your home. You may also try an air purifier to help eliminate other airborne allergens and improve the overall quality of air that you breathe in your home. Many individuals have seen incredible differences in their allergies from the use of an air purifier.

Nasal irrigation by means of a nettipot or a simple saline spray have also proven very effective at relieving respiratory symptoms.  They can help to flush out any allergens residing in your nose and keep things moving along.

Exercise is A Cure All

Studies have shown that exercise has a profound effect on the reduction of allergy symptoms. Although, no one really knows why. One reason may be that it’s a great stress reliever and less stress leads to less overall inflammation. Regardless, the benefits of exercise are so numerous, that you can only be better off by trying it.

Please visit our National Wellness Calendar for more information on Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month coming this May, as well as other Wellness Observances.

Promoting Bike Month in the Workplace

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

There’s a growing movement that increases health, builds community and decreases pollution – bicycling! Each May since 1956, we observe Bike month to encourage this movement to grow and spread health and wellness. In 2020, Bike to Work Week will be May 11–17, with Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 15. This is a very simple health activity that you can encourage in your workplace in a variety of ways. Healthier and more active employees are happier, more productive employees. Did you know that 40 percent of all commutes are two miles or less? That makes them the perfect length for a bike ride!

Bike Events

Planning a Bike Month Event is a great way to promote National Bike Month! The League of American Bicyclists has lots of resources for event ideas and promotional materials.  Here are just a few ideas!

CAR VS. BUS VS. BIKE COMMUTER RACE –

Organize a race between cyclists and other commuters. Everyone leaves at the same time, with the same destination, but take very different routes. Surprisingly, cyclists usually win! It’s a great way to show one of the many benefits of taking a bicycle to work. Many first-time bike commuters become regular cyclists afterward.

BREAKFAST OR ENERGIZER STATIONS –

Set up stations in various neighborhoods where bicycle commuters can stop by for breakfast! You can even ask local restaurants to donate food for the event. Providing reflective bands or blinking lights and additional bike “swag” is another fun way to promote the event.

NATIONAL BIKE CHALLENGE –

Bike Week and Bike to work day are great, but signing up for the National Bike Challenge keeps it going all month. Encourage your employees to register online at www.nationalbikechallenge.org where they can track their miles, build community, and even win prizes! It’s a fun way to be competitive and incentivize bike riding.

Benefits of Bicycling

HEALTH –

80% of all cyclists say their health has improved since beginning to bicycle. With obesity on the rise, bicycling to work is a great way to get regular exercise into a busy schedule. Those who bicycle are typically leaner, fitter, have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels.

Stress levels also decrease with bicycle commutes. It can be very freeing and relaxing to go on a bike ride. Typically, cyclists are also able to avoid traffic congestion which can be a huge cause for stress for regular car commuters.

SAVE MONEY –

According to an analysis by the League of American Bicyclists, Americans saved more than $4.6 billion by bicycling instead of driving in 2012 alone. Bike commuters avoid parking ticket costs, gasoline prices, and various other car maintenance expenses. The cost of a year’s bike maintenance is a mere $300-400 as compared to an average of more than $8,000 for a car.

ENVIRONMENT/ECONOMY –

Cars are the number one contributor to environmental pollution. Short trips in the car are more harmful to the environment than longer ones. So switching to bicycles for those shorter trips cuts down on 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile!

Besides air pollution, parking costs and space are exponentially less for bicycles. Ten bikes can fit in one parking space. The cost of parking is astronomically more for cars than bikes. Parking for 75 bikes can be constructed for the same price of 4 cars.

Studies have shown that cyclists stop by local businesses more frequently and spend more money there. Bicycle commuters also take 15% fewer sick days and are generally more productive at work.

For more resources and information on National Bike Month, Bike Week, and Bike to Work Day, visit our National Wellness Calendar.

COVID-19: What We Need to Know

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

The world has been affected by this coronavirus outbreak in a way that none of us expected a few weeks ago. With the widespread reach of the media and social networks, we have the double-edged sword of a surplus of information. It can be difficult to wade through it all and make sense of what it means. There are two extreme ends of the spectrum, oscillating between extreme panic to an almost blase attitude. There is some real cause for concern, but we’d like to help the situation by compiling some helpful facts and tips for how to handle our current situation.

Preventing the Spread of Disease

The disease has been found to spread most easily from close contact (within 6 feet) from person to person. The transfer of the virus can occur from unprotected coughing or sneezing. The CDC has been extremely clear in describing the measures we can all take to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus.

  • Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing, touching any potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Keep your unwashed hands away from your face where germs can obtain easy entry into your body.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Keep away from people who are infected with the virus.
  • Put distance between yourself and large groups of people if there is a spread in your community.
  • Wear a facemask ONLY if you are sick or caring for a sick person who may be unable to wear one.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

As employers, how can we keep our workplaces healthy?

  • Encourage employees to stay home when sick by providing flexible sick leave policies.
  • Enable as much work to be done remotely as possible during community outbreaks.
  • Separate sick employees who may become sick during the workday.
  • Encourage routine hand washing.
  • Perform thorough routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
  • Educate employees on symptoms or coronavirus.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

The coronavirus is a respiratory illness exhibiting the following symptoms. Keep in mind that people may respond to the virus in different ways. These symptoms may appear up to 14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Most cases of the virus have been mild and recoverable. However, there are some who are at increased risk for the most severe cases, potentially becoming fatal. Those at high risk include the elderly and those with preexisting conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. If you or someone close to you fit into the high-risk category, take extra precautions.

If you do exhibit symptoms don’t go to the doctorCall your doctor and describe your symptoms and possible exposure to the illness. They can advise you if you need to be tested and tell you what your next steps should be.

Be a Kind Human

Remember that we are all in this together. Even if you are not at a high-risk for infection, you may unknowingly be in close contact with people who are. Consider the people around you. Take all the precautions advised by the CDC to prevent or lessen a widespread outbreak in your area.

Be considerate when stocking up on supplies and only purchase what you need. Leave some for others rather than overbuying out of panic or fear.

Keeping Anxiety at Bay

In order to keep anxiety at bay, it may be best to limit your exposure to social media outlets. Protect your mental health by keeping things light, talking to your loved ones and staying focused on the positive. Even though this virus isn’t well known, much progress has been made already. The mass cancellations are for our safety and prevention and should be comforting more than inciting fear. It’s a means of stopping the spread of the virus so that it stays under control.

For much more specific information on the coronavirus and how to stay healthy, especially as businesses and employers, visit the official CDC website.

Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

In 2020, we observe Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week from April 13th-19th. Since 71 percent of Americans have never been examined for these types of cancers, free screenings are offered during the Awareness week. Help us spread awareness by promoting the free screenings and spreading knowledge about symptoms with individuals who may be at risk.

Who is at Risk for Developing Oral, Head and Neck Cancer?

Those at risk include anyone who smokes or uses tobacco. Tobacco use accounts for 85% of all cases of oral, head and neck cancers. Excessive alcohol intake also puts you at risk and the combination of the two increases your risk dramatically.

Human papillomavirus is another common cause of cancer, especially of the throat. Epstein-Barr virus usually remains dormant in infected individuals. It can exhibit itself in the form of mono and has also been associated with nasopharynx cancer.

Men are 2-3 times more likely to develop some form of oral, head or neck cancer than women. Poor nutrition lacking in A and B vitamins can also increase your risk. People with poor dental hygiene are at an increased risk as well as sufferers of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Symptoms

Oral, head and neck cancers are found the squamous cells that line the head and neck. Symptoms can exhibit in the form of a lump in these areas. They may also cause a longterm sore throat or persistent fever. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing and a change in voice.

Any of the above symptoms could also be indicators of a less serious condition. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to be seen by a medical professional to determine the exact cause.

Prevention

Early diagnosis is imperative for preventing the development of these cancers. This is why the free screenings offered are so important to take part in. Last year hundreds of free screenings were offered in hospitals and medical centers across the country and the world. Free screenings can be found throughout the year, but the most availability occurs during the awareness week.

Simply ceasing tobacco use is a great way to prevent cancer from developing. Our bodies have the amazing ability to even reverse the damage that has already been done. Younger, healthy individuals have been known to develop oral, head and neck cancers more as a result of HPV. Receiving vaccination against the virus is essential to preventing these cancers.

How To Spread Awareness

Visit the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance to find out more about how to host a free screening event. You can also search for free screening sites near you on their website.

In addition to attending a free screening, there are other events offered like runs, education workshops, galas, and silent auctions. It doesn’t take much to share a social media post or to communicate your own story with your sphere of influence. Do what you can to promote health and oral, head and neck cancer awareness. Together we can save lives.

Promoting a Safe & Healthy Workplace

Friday, February 21st, 2020

“Almost 3 million workers die each year from occupational accidents and work related diseases. This is an unacceptable and avoidable human cost. We can and must reduce and eliminate such deaths, injuries and diseases from work.”

International Labour Organization Director-General, Guy Ryder

The quote above is extremely sobering. When we realize that the vast majority of these illnesses and deaths are due to mere human error, we understand how important greater education and prevention truly are. We cannot afford so many lives lost or affected by our carelessness or neglect.

At IAB, we are doing our part to spread health education in the workplace. We connect healthcare providers with employer groups to help bring wellness to the workplace. This April 28th, we observe World Day for Safety and Health in the Workplace. Each year the International Labour Organization focuses on a specific theme for this day. Below we will go over some practical ways to promote health and safety in your workplace.

Healthy Habits in the Workplace

  • Handwashing
    • Handwashing is always the single most effective and simplest way to prevent the spread of disease. You should always wash hands after using the restroom. Wash hands at the start of your shift, after removing any protective gloves, between patients, before food prep, etc. Be mindful of the type of work you’re in and fill in appropriate times when diseases could potentially be spread. Never underestimate the importance and effectiveness of handwashing. Keeping a generally clean and sanitary work environment also prevents the spread of disease.
  • Ventilation
    • Proper air ventilation can also help prevent the spread of disease. The building humidity should be kept at 60 percent or less to inhibit the growth of any mold or fungus. Ensure that the building’s ventilation system is maintained properly. Circulation of fresh air keeps bacteria from growing and provides healthy air to breathe.
  • Vaccinations
    • Keep up to date on all the recommended vaccinations. Providing on-site vaccinations that pertain to your line of work is an extra measure that is well worth the effort. Tetanus and Flu shots are beneficial to everyone. Certain hepatitis vaccinations should be emphasized to protect those working with children, in healthcare or waste collection. Consult your doctor for the best vaccine recommendations for your workplace.
  • Protective gear
    • If you can potentially come into contact with any type of hazardous material at work, the proper protective covering can be life-saving. Eyes and mouths are vulnerable areas that can easily contract an illness. Keep them covered with masks, face shields, respirators, and safety glasses. Use gowns and gloves to cover clothing and hands which can carry infectious material. Without these coverings, diseases can be spread from person to person or from hand to face.

Safety in the Workplace

Safety policies and procedures are extremely important. But they are only useful if they are actually practiced. Review policies frequently and make sure all employees are familiar with them. Making safety a priority has to become a habit and habits take time to develop. When you create a work environment that promotes safe practices, it has to start with the employer to trickle down to the employees. Create a culture of safety and new employees will naturally be grafted in.

Other things to keep in mind when promoting a safe work environment:

  • Always wear protective safety gear where appropriate.
  • Understand that safety is non-negotiable.
  • Take extra care to hire employees with integrity who will put safety first and not cut corners.
  • Make plans and practice procedures for emergency situations.
  • Provide proper training and multiple opportunities for practice.

ILO 2020 Theme: Violence and Harassment in the World of Work

Violence and harassment are unfortunate realities in the workplace. Where there are large groups of people, there will always be a risk for some occurrence of inappropriate or dangerous behavior. Here are some practical ways we can help decrease their occurrence or at least head them off before any real danger occurs.

  • Employers –
    • Be sure to check on the morale of your employees. You can’t monitor everyone all the time, but if you’re an easy person to approach, employees are more likely to come to you when there is a problem.
    • Hire people for their skill level but also for their character.
    • Offer training and materials on what to do if you experience or witness bullying or harassment at work.
    • Have a harassment policy and review it often.
  • Employees –
    • Speak up. If you feel as though you or a coworker may be in danger, tell someone about it. Don’t try to handle it on your own. Making a big deal out of nothing is better than waiting until it’s too late.A Forbes article on Workplace safety gave this real-life example:

      A woman overheard a colleague talking fearfully to her boyfriend while on a break outside the building; the woman was pleading with her boyfriend not to show up at her office. The colleague reported this to Human Resources and they called the police who showed up mere minutes before the boyfriend appeared; he was armed. By speaking up, the colleague had saved the day.

    • Know your rights. If you’re being harassed or discriminated against report it.
    • Keep notes on occurrences of harassment with as many details as possible.
    • Call the police. If you’ve become a victim of a criminal act, do not hesitate to contact authorities.

Together we can make our workplace a safer and healthier place to be. Training and prevention are absolutely essential for our success in diminishing the number of casualties each year. Visit our National Wellness Observance Calendar for more resources on World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Healthy Feet on the Job

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Our feet do the grunt work by supporting our entire bodies every day. They carry us from place to place from infancy through adulthood covering upwards of 100,000 miles. Our feet are the very foundation for our bodies but are typically ignored until there’s a problem. Once there’s a problem, it can affect our entire body’s overall health. Since our feet work so hard for us, why don’t we take care of them before any problems begin? Let’s go over some ways we can care for our feet and keep them healthy as they carry us through both our workday and life.

Proper Footwear

Wearing shoes with little to no arch support can wreak havoc on your body. Not only does a good supportive shoe provide a steady foundation and balance, but it also contributes to your overall activity level. Your arch comes under the most strain as you stand and walk. Without support, you may experience back pain, foot pain, and even headaches or stomachaches.

It can be challenging to find proper footwear when you work in an environment that requires more formal attire. Purchase a good shoe insert to make even the least supportive shoes more foot health-friendly.

If you can wear a shoe with laces at work, choose one with multiple eyelets. The more a shoe has, the more it can conform to the shape of your foot, providing the best support.

Moisturize

There are plenty of lotions and creams out there that are touted as the best for your feet. Any of them will do. The real trick to moisturizing your feet is to make sure you are first exfoliating. Get rid of any dead skin cells so that your dry feet will be ready to receive new moisture.

You can use a simple washcloth after soaking your feet, or a loofah or pumice stone for those extra dry, callused areas. Adding some Epsom salt to your bath can help soften the skin on your feet, making it easier to remove any dead skin.

Follow your exfoliation with a lotion or petroleum jelly to seal in moisture. Most of all, be consistent. Your feet crave moisture daily. Make sure your body is also hydrated from the inside by drinking plenty of water and eating a diet rich in Omega fatty acids.

Good Foot Hygiene

It’s easy to ignore our feet when it comes to hygiene. They’re typically covered inside a shoe, so who’s really going to see them? They’re also a long way down there! May we suggest you take the small extra effort to pay special attention to your feet? Here are some issues that may arise from poor hygiene and how you can prevent and address them:

  • Ingrown toenails – ingrown toenails can be painful and uncomfortable. Be sure to keep your toenails trimmed, but not too short! Trim your toenails straight across rather than rounding the edges. Maybe most important, choose shoes that fit your foot properly! Shoes that are too tight can contribute to an ingrown toenail. Your toes should be able to wiggle freely inside.
  • Smelly feet/shoes – This is a common problem for shoes that you may wear daily. Feet sweat and when they are inside a sock and shoe for over eight hours a day, that doesn’t leave much room for air circulation. Sometimes you are left with a shoe that stinks no matter what you do! In order to prevent those perpetually smelly feet, try to alternate between at least two different pairs of shoes for work. This allows one pair to completely dry out for over 24 hours. It won’t stop your feet from sweating, but it should allow the smell to decrease. Also, wear cotton socks to wick sweat away. Socks made of other materials may trap moisture in and worsen the issue. Choosing leather shoes over plastic or other synthetic material can also promote more air circulation to your feet.

  • Infections/Itchy Feet – there are many different causes for itchy feet and not all of them relate to hygiene. However, one that does is a fungal infection we all know as “athletes foot”. Athlete’s foot can develop if your feet sweat and you’re wearing shoes that are too tight. Make sure your shoes fit properly and that you change out of sweaty socks as soon as possible. Even washing your feet with antibacterial soap can be helpful, paying close attention to in between your toes.
  • Dry, cracked heels – Feet tend to be exceptionally dry. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time on their feet, your dry heels may even crack. These cracks leave your feet open and susceptible to infection. Use a thick moisturizer on your feet each night before bed and especially after washing to lock in moisture. Resist the urge to be barefoot as much as possible since it can lead to drier feet and the potential for infection.

April is Foot Health Awareness Month! Visit our National Wellness Observance Calendar for more resources on Foot Health as well as a FREE Calendar download. See our Wellness Blog on Workplace Wellness for tips on how to bring this education into your workplace.

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