Could food be sabotaging your H&S?

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Health and safety is a key concern for many employers across Canada but some may be overlooking a key influencer, according to one industry expert.

“My research has shown that when blood sugar is variable, reaction time, decision making, vigilance, memory and integration of information are all impaired in the order of what is seen with 10 years of aging,” says Delia Roberts, an instructor of biology and workplace training at Selkirk College.

“There is an increased risk of incidents due to a reduction in the ability of the worker to perceive the risk, a slowing of response to an unexpected event, and impairment of judgement as to the correct action to take,” she continues.

Roberts has worked with some of Canada’s top athletes and now applies similar principles to develop worksite health and wellness programs. She says the timing and nature of food intake has a significant impact on performance of both physical and mental tasks – something employers can easily overlook.

“While the ‘human factor’ in decision making has recently become a focus of interest, very little research has been done on the link between physiological status and vigilance, reaction time and decision making,” she told HRM.

“Most employers have very limited resources to direct towards safety and as such often do not understand the factors that impact safety in their organizations,” she continued.

“Injury rates can be reduced to a certain extent by general rules governing behaviours – such as wearing PPE, 3 point contact, etc. – but an integrated health and safety program can change the culture of an organization to make safety, wellness and performance intrinsic to the worker, the employer and the entire organization.”

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