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Wellness Works Expands

The pilot expands and adds some new investments in wellness.

Wellness Works M&O logo

The wellness program launched in the last fiscal year, in cooperation with the APS Wellness Works Program, Presbyterian Health Plan, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, is proving to be popular and successful. It has also become somewhat of a District pilot program. M&O is one of the largest departments in the District and due to the physical labor requirements of most staff members, beginning with M&O in launching an APS wide wellness program was logical.

APS and its insurance providers fully appreciate that a healthier staff directly translates to lower health risks, absenteeism, injuries and illness, medical costs, and worker compensation claims. Quite simply, the payoff of the wellness program is potentially massive! Just over three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2013 according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the National Safety Council estimated the cost of fatal and non-fatal work injuries at $198 billion in 2012. Nationally, more than one million workers miss time from their job each year, most often due to upper extremity and lower back disorders. Workers with musculoskeletal injuries specifically — and those most applicable to M&O techs — lose 25 days at an average cost of $8,070 per injury! The average cost for all other work-related injuries is $824. (Sources: National Academy of Sciences, 2006, 2008; CDC, 2009, Dept. of Health and Human Services 2010.)

Because 80% of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and conditions are caused by worker posture, faulty body mechanics, and general poor fitness for work, M&O’s wellness activities and education focus on preventing these injuries that affect the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscles which make up the human body’s musculoskeletal or movement system. M&O technicians are exposed to risk factors, such as forceful exertion; lifting heavy items; bending and reaching overhead; pushing and pulling heavy loads; working in awkward body positions; performing the same tasks repetitively; and jarred vibration from operating grinders, routers, drills, and saws that can lead to nerve damage.

It is obviously smart management to avoid injuries. M&O’s biggest expense is labor and its greatest investment is its people. M&O’s highly skilled and licensed technicians are priceless and never dispensable. They have irreplaceable historical knowledge of the District’s vast array of HVAC equipment, complex electrical systems, unique structural conditions, and grounds. Their ongoing training is not just applicable to their trade or craft, but specifically to APS schools and is heavily customer service oriented.

And employees want to stay well for a myriad of reasons. Getting hurt on the job results in their personal pain adversely affecting their quality of life, golf game, and ability to rough and tumble with their kids. Additionally, they suffer a financial hit as workers’ compensation pay is only 66% of their regular income.

As conveyed in last year’s Report, the program started with an assessment of the health condition of M&O employees conducted in a culture that supports a healthy, happy, and high-performing workforce. The Wellness Works Program was initiated because M&O leadership recognized that they can contribute to the overall physical, emotional, and social health and well-being of employees. And because individuals obviously have the greatest control over the state of their own health and physical fitness, the program’s focus is in providing support, information, incentives, and options that motivate staff members to actively take care of their physical (and ultimately emotional and mental), wellbeing.

Vanessa Olguin, the Fleet Maintenance Department’s Fuel Fleet Specialist, was appointed the M&O Wellness Ambassador. Fully committed to the wellness of her colleagues, she administers the following 2015-16 FY contagious developments that fight disease and lethargy through improved fitness, healthy eating, and enriched lifestyle choices. The more people participate, the more others want to jump onboard.

The following new investments in wellness were introduced in 2015-16. It makes no sense to perform preventive maintenance on APS equipment and systems to save money in the long term and not do the same for M&O’s most valued asset: the technicians and staff who work on the equipment. The following prevent time, cost, and painful injuries and illness − plain and simple.

Stretching and Wellness Room

Stretching and working out are further incorporated into M&O's routine

Lunch and Learn

Lunch and Learn sessions moved to a facility with a kitchen

Weight loss and Walking

Employees embark on a "Race to Lose" and choose to powerwalk

The wellness campaign works!

M&O is developing a wellness culture.