Healthy Working Lives awards presented to firms

ELEVEN organisations from across the Borders have picked up awards for their efforts to boost health, safety and wellbeing in workplaces.

The Healthy Working Lives award programme was launched to encourage employers to promote a healthier lifestyle to their workforce and covers a wide range of topics including health promotion, occupational health and safety, employability, mental health and well-being, community involvement, and health and the ­environment.

Organisations must meet certain criteria to achieve the four levels of award (bronze, silver, gold and the mental health commendation), however the programme is designed to be flexible so employers can select topics most relevant to their workforce.

Explaining the importance of the awards, Dr Eric Baijal, joint director of public health for the council and NHS Borders, said: “During these very challenging economic times, it becomes vital that organisations look after their number one asset, their staff.

“Being proactive in addressing health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace leads to a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce. In turn this can lead to a reduction in sickness absence, staff turnover and related costs, as well as increased productivity, staff satisfaction and customer satisfaction.”

The Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) based in Tweedbank has a workforce of around 250 people and collected a silver award.

Through the programme the SPPA were able to access training and support to devise a plan to minimise stress, and take a practical look at what could be done to reduce sickness absence.

“In preparation for a period of considerable change within the SPPA we would like to be able to recognise concerns at an early stage and hope that if problems do arise staff will be better prepared and more able to cope,” said Neville Mackay, chief executive of SPPA.

“The initiative provides many practical and cost effective examples of steps we can take to further the health and well being of our staff, both in the office setting and at home,” he added.