Caterpillar's Better Health at Work initiative has been launched to educate and inspire the 1,000 employees on the company's Stockton site.
It was initially set up to combat ill-health across the business by providing support, advice, information and guidance on how improvements to health could be achieved.
After initial health surveys were carried out among the workforce, strategies and initiatives were provided on relevant issues such as smoking cessation, cycle to work schemes, and cancer awareness workshops. Supervisors were put through the health sessions prior to them being rolled out to the general workforce.
More recently, annual flu jabs were provided on site, along with staff physiotherapy, financed by the company.
Health M.O.Ts assessing the likelihood of employees developing type two diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease were later introduced, along with sessions to address mental health issues such as stress.
Owing to the commitments and pressures affecting staff, employers wanted to explore the issue and how these issues affected staff productivity.
The initiative was started in 2010 as part of a project which focused on the North of England, following several months of negotiations between the Trades Union Congress (TUC), NHS, HR at Caterpillar, and then site managers.
Despite initial concerns on how the scheme would affect production, it worked because the employer saw the benefits of it helping people stay healthy at work and sustain production with fewer people taking time off.
"There was a bit of scepticism from the trade unions as well as some employers over the health and wellbeing as fluffy HR," said TUC Northern Region Better Health and Work Coordinator Tom Ross. "But what happened is that we saw culture changes in parts of the workplace.
"We got the nod of approval from Caterpillar at the first meeting once people realised that it was obvious that the benefits were cross-party and that everybody was going to share in the success. There was clear indication what was expected, but there was an understanding from the outset that it was an opportunity for businesses and unions to work together in a productive way.
"From the outset this initiative has been a partnership between the employers and unions. It's in everybody's interest to invest in this and when you see people's lives being changed by this initiative people share in that."
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