TWELVE organisations in the Borders have picked up a top award for their efforts to boost health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace.
The Healthy Working Lives award programme was launched to encourage employers to promote a healthier lifestyle to their workforce and covers a wide range of topics including health promotion, occupational health and safety, employability, mental health and well-being, community involvement, and health and the environment.
Organisations need to meet certain core criteria to achieve the four levels of award - Bronze, Silver, Gold and the Mental Health Commendation – however the programme is designed to be flexible so that employers can select the topics most relevant to their own workforce.
Among the award winners were Berwickshire businesses Universal Fibre Optics at Coldstream and the Duns-based Berwickshire Housing Association.
All these businesses achieved their awards by taking a number of steps to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff.
These include being pro-active in reducing occupational health and safety risks, promoting healthy eating and physical activity, mental health and well-being, safer drinking, providing lifestyle health checks and for those achieving the higher levels of the award, through the development of policies and procedures to support staff health and wellbeing.
Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace was the theme for this year’s award ceremony.
The first two organisations in the Borders to achieve the Healthy Working Lives Mental Health Commendation Award preceded the award presentations by showcasing the work undertaken to achieve the award including policy development, identifying and reducing the causes of stress, training for managers and awareness raising with staff around mental health issues.
Mental Health related issues, including stress, are now the single biggest reason for sickness absence and for claiming health related benefits, and at any one time it is anticipated that one in every three of the working age population may be affected.
One third of the £10 billion estimated impact on Scotland of work related absence and ill health can be attributed to mental health through lost production and NHS treatment costs.
This does not count the hidden costs of mental health related ‘presenteeism’ – people still in jobs but working beneath their full potential.
Congratulating the award winners, Councillor Stuart Bell, executive chair for Scottish Borders Council Economic Development Group said: “In what are very challenging economic times, it is vital organisations look after their number one asset, their staff.
Gold - Scotia Chiropractic Ltd, St Boswells.
Silver - Berwickshire Housing Association, Duns, Castlegate Nursery and After School Club, Kelso, Princess Royal Trust Border Carers Centre, Galashiels, Stark Main and Co, Selkirk.
Bronze - Border Sports and Leisure Trust, Selkirk, Eildon Housing Association Ltd, Selkirk, Holequest Ltd, Galashiels, Scottish Ambulance Service, Universal Fibre Optics, Coldstream, Waverley Housing Association Ltd, Hawick.
Mental Health Commendation Award - Borders College, Galashiels, Princess Royal Trust Border Carers Centre, Galashiels.