The NSW Healthy Workers Initiative is a new and innovative program that aims to improve the health of working adults by targeting workers at risk of lifestyle-related chronic disease.
The Initiative is a collaboration between NSW Health and WorkCover NSW and is a major component of the NSW commitment to the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health. Under this partnership, the Australian Government will provide the NSW Government with $70 million over six years (2011/12 – 2017/18) to address modifiable risk factors for chronic disease in workers. These include unhealthy weight (overweight and obesity), physical inactivity, smoking, poor nutrition and harmful alcohol consumption.
There is growing evidence that targeting workplaces is effective and has multiple benefits.
Organisations that don’t promote health and wellness are 4 x more likely to lose staff
within 12 months 
Increased morale and engagement at work 
Productivity gains of up to 15% can be achieved by improving the workplace environment 
Healthy workers are fitter, more aware and alert, more resilient against illness, and less likely to suffer manual handling injuries and strains 
Workplace health programs can reduce sick leave by up to 30% 
Healthy worker programs can improve workers health and reduce their chances of developing diseases such as diabetes
Consultations with businesses, peak bodies, industry groups, unions and key health experts continue to inform the development of the NSW Healthy Workers Initiative. Program delivery and communication strategies will be tailored to meet the needs of small, medium and large businesses in all locations across NSW.
A stakeholder forum held on 17 April 2013 outlined the planned approach to the Initiative and provided an opportunity to gain feedback from a broad range of health and business stakeholders. The forum presentation slides and participant feedback can be downloaded from the 'More Information' section on this page.
A phased rollout of the Initiative will occur across NSW. During the first phase, three key industries (transport, manufacturing and construction) located within three Local Health Districts (Murrumbidgee, Western Sydney and Central Coast) will be invited to participate in the Initiative. Following several rounds of piloting, businesses across NSW will be invited to participate with plans for broader program implementation across other Local Health Districts and industries from July 2014.
The free services and advice that will be available to NSW workplaces will include:
- Workplace Support Service: a program to guide workplaces and employees to become healthier. The service will support workplaces to plan, implement and monitor a workplace health and wellbeing program.
- Brief Health Check: a free and confidential service delivered to individual workers by trained health professionals to help workers understand their risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
The NSW Healthy Workers Initiative will also link in with a range of existing services such as, the Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service® and the NSW QuitLine.
The Get Healthy Service is a free, telephone-based information and coaching service for all adults who want to lose weight, eat better and exercise more. A range of resources are available to for workplaces to promote the Get Healthy Service to employees and can be downloaded by following the 'External Links' section on this page.
1. Health and Productivity Institue of Australia, Best Practice Guidelines - Workplace Health in Australia, 2010. Australian Health and Productivity Management Congress: Sydney, Australia.
2. Workcover Tasmania, Your Simple Guide to Workplace Health and Wellbeing, 2013. Tasmania, Editor Hobart, Australia.
3. Health, W.C, 2006. The future@work
health report: Employees and their workplace, Wesley Corporate Health: Brisbane, Australia.
4. Dishman, R. K., et al, 1998. Worksite physical activity interventions. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 15(4): p 344-361.