MP witnesses Better Health at Work in action
An MP from Durham has welcomed the efforts of a construction-equipment manufacturer and union representatives in promoting the health and well-being of employees.
Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, visited Caterpillar’s Peterlee site to see how the Northern TUC, trade unions and the employer are working together to make the workplace a healthier environment for the workforce, under the auspices of the Better Health at Work initiative.
The Better Health at Work programme has been established to combat ill health across the region, and involves the appointment of voluntary health advocates – often, union representatives.
Advocates help carry out a health survey among the workforce, the results of which are used to inform the implementation of strategies and initiatives on relevant issues, such as smoking cessation, ride-to-work schemes, blood-pressure checks, cancer-awareness sessions, and stress-busting workshops. The ultimate aim is to provide support, information and guidance on how to bring about improvements to workers’ health.
During a guided tour of the Peterlee site last week, Mr Morris was joined by Northern TUC regional secretary, Kevin Rowan; senior regional Unite official, Mike Routledge; and Caterpillar Peterlee’s managing director, Phil Handley.
After seeing the work going on, the MP said: “This is a great example of how a responsible company can work constructively with its trade union to promote schemes that are beneficial for staff and for company productivity, through reduced absenteeism.”
He added: “I am pleased to see Caterpillar implementing its values to support its workforce and improve their personal health and lifestyle choices for the benefit of everyone involved.”
Kevin Rowan added: “Evidence of trade-union contribution to improved health and well-being for individuals is clear and compelling; employers benefit from dramatically lower levels of absenteeism and increased productivity – there are few more apparent win-win situations.
“As trade unions and employers step up their partnership work in this area, with the support and encouragement of the health service, these benefits will grow.”
Phil Handley said the company felt compelled to get involved with the initiative, describing it as a perfect match with its corporate values. He said: “Raising awareness of what we can all do to improve our health and well-being brings tremendous benefits to our people and to our business.
“I am very pleased with the partnership we have in place between our on-site Unite union representatives, the NHS and Caterpillar Peterlee – there is some outstanding work going on.”
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