Workers should be aware of serious health risks, says WorkSafe

A confronting new campaign which shows what could happen if Victorians aren’t aware of serious health risks urges employers to sign up for free WorkHealth checks and help keep their workers healthy and happy.
News article published

Thursday 15 Sep 2011

Industries and topics
  • Healthcare and hospitals

The campaign, which begins Sunday night, features a typical busy working mum who suffers a heart attack after missing out on the opportunity to have a free WorkHealth check. The checks are available to all Victorian workers whose businesses have signed up to take part.

“We’ve featured a busy mother in the campaign because heart disease is Australia’s number-one killer, yet our busy lives often get in the way of putting our health as priority and getting a check-up,” WorkHealth Director Rachel Gualano said.

“WorkHealth checks blow the excuse of being too busy out of the water. They’re done in the workplace, at a time convenient for you, they take 15 minutes and there is no cost.”

Workers who take part in the confidential checks learn about risk factors associated with two of the most common, yet preventable, chronic diseases – type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“You get immediate advice and results, and those at the greatest risk can access free, ongoing support through the WorkHealth Coach program which helps workers to act on the lifestyle advice they receive in their WorkHealth check,” Ms Gualano said.

Josie Caruso, 33, a childcare worker at Moreland Community Childcare Cooperative, found she was at serious risk of type 2 diabetes though her WorkHealth check. She has since lost 40kg by making significant changes to her diet and lifestyle, and is also helping her colleagues to improve their health too through the weekly support group she runs.

“My WorkHealth check showed that my cholesterol was very high, and that my diet was too high in carbohydrates and fried foods and low in vegetables. Before this I had no idea how close I was to developing type 2 diabetes – it’s a scary thought,” Ms Caruso said.  

Why Victorians won’t get a check-up

A WorkSafe report found:

  • Time related issues, including ‘lack of time’ and ‘getting time off work’, accounted for 58% of Victorian workers putting off general health checks with their doctor
  • Nearly half the workers surveyed (48%) felt it was a ‘hassle’ to go to the doctor for a check-up, giving reasons such as ‘long waiting times’ and ‘expense’

A Monash University report on the results of 300,000 WorkHealth checks showed:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of participants had a medium to high risk for type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease
  • More than 3,200 workers had such serious risk factors they were advised to see a GP urgently within 24 hours.

Businesses can complete the simple application for WorkHealth checks at or call WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.

Workers who have had a WorkHealth check and were found to be at risk of chronic disease can ring the WorkHealth Coach service on 1800 002 685 for free advice and support on improving their health.

About WorkHealth checks

WorkSafe Victoria’s free, 15-minute WorkHealth checks are completely confidential and assess a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Participants fill out a brief lifestyle questionnaire and have their blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and waist circumference measured by a trained health professional.

Workers receive their results on the spot and also learn about the lifestyle improvements they could make to reduce their risk for chronic disease. People who are at risk can choose to receive ongoing support through the WorkHealth Coach program.

It’s important to note that WorkHealth checks don’t replace a visit to the GP, however for many individuals who don’t visit their GP regularly, the checks can help to identify if there are any health risks to worry about.

More than 385,000 WorkHealth checks have been conducted in Victoria to date, and more than 24,000 workplaces have signed up to the program.

About WorkHealth Coach

WorkHealth Coach is a telephone service provided free of charge to workers found to have a medium to high risk of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It’s designed to help them act upon the advice received in their WorkHealth check, and make improvements to their lifestyle such as healthy eating, quitting smoking or exercise.

WorkSafe appointed Medibank Health Solutions to deliver the WorkHealth Coach service, which provides:

  • Telephone support: Workers receive a phonecall from a qualified health coach to discuss their WorkHealth check results. Based on their level of risk, workers will be enrolled in one of a range of free programs including phone-based coaching and face-to-face groups available through WorkSafe, Diabetes Australia Victoria and the Commonwealth Government.
  • Ongoing health coaching: Workers at medium risk of type 2 diabetes or medium to high risk of cardiovascular disease are eligible to continue on with their WorkHealth Coach to receive regular phone-based coaching for up to six months.