Laundry Services' Focus on Safety
With a culturally diverse workforce performing many different jobs, how can UMHS ensure faculty and staff have the right information to stay safe and healthy on the job?
To answer this question, Wasentha Young, a health educator in the Program for Multicultural Health, conducted a study and noticed many challenges in Operations & Support Services—areas with culturally diverse staff, many physically demanding jobs and a high rate of lost work days and injuries.
Teaming up with Steve Raymond from OSS and Lisa Schneider from MFit, the group conducted a pilot program with Laundry Services, aiming to reduce injuries and accidents while improving overall health.
Health Risk Assessments and Biometric Screenings were performed on Laundry Services employees, with nearly 60 percent participating due to support from manager Rolando Croocks.
“As a manager, the well-being of my staff is very important to me. They are the ones who make the laundry go. If I can contribute to their health, I don’t hesitate,” Croocks says.
Cheryl Hardrick is a laundry feeder folder who participated in many aspects of the pilot after realizing the program’s Lunch and Learn topics were relevant to her job.
“When I’m working and constantly doing a motion, my shoulders and neck ache. Now I’ll stop and do some of the stretches I learned or some of the breathing techniques that help with stress on the job,” she says. “It has really helped.”
Hardrick also improved her eating habits, staying away from carbs and fatty foods, and using lighter salad dressings. She and another co-worker often take walks during lunch to keep active.
Program results showed a reduction in days missed due to illness. Five individuals shifted from moderate-to-high risk to low risk, and overall participant wellness scores improved. This program will serve as a model for future programs at UMHS. In fact, Schneider is already working with a group of nurse managers on 5W Mott to develop a wellness program that meets their needs.
Program components included:
- 11 “Lunch and Learn” sessions on relevant topics, such as managing cholesterol and preventing stress
- Several weekly visits by Lynn Krzys, an MWorks occupational health disability nurse, to counsel staff on health issues
- Education on materials available at the Health Education Resource Center
- Creation of educational handouts, including posters that depict stretches to relieve pain from specific work performed at Laundry Services