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Workers emerging from homes show weight gains

Workers who emerged from pandemic-induced work-from-home situations (or outright unemployment) to return to workplaces this spring and summer may not have been as trim and healthy as they were 18 months ago. According to an American Psychological Association survey called “Stress in America,” 61% of Americans reported undesired weight gain or loss during the pandemic. The report showed 42% gained more than they intended, with an average weight gain of 29 pounds over a year.

Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation would like to turn that trend around by accepting applications for its Workplace Wellness Grant Program, to help employers start and implement their own programs.

“A healthy workforce is crucial to workplace safety,” said BWC Interim Administrator/CEO John Logue. “The Workplace Wellness Grant Program aims to lower the escalating costs of workers’ compensation claims by improving the health and well-being of the workforce.”

Employers can get $300 per participating employee over a four-year period, maxing out at $15,000 per policy. Their programs must have a health-risk appraisal, a biometric assessment and programs to address those risk factors. The BWC notes other eligibility requirements may apply.

It is an intriguing possibility, and probably tempting for those looking to jumpstart a workforce that needs to get back on the right track. But those assessing applications for the grants must look for some reassurance they are not throwing taxpayer money at ineffective programs that will not catch (and keep) employees’ interest. If it works, wonderful. If it doesn’t, BWC must be willing to trim the fat and eliminate spending on programs that are not pulling their weight.

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