TransAlta conducts workplace wellness exams at operating facilities that include:
- pulmonary function tests
- chest x-rays
- fit tests for those who wear respirators
These initiatives are legislated and we average 95 to 97 per cent compliance. The gap represents people away from work or on leave.
In 2009, TransAlta measured the cost implications to the company of non-occupational medical leaves. The research shows these absences cost the company $4.7 million annually and represent a 1.2 per cent loss of productivity. The primary reasons for absences across the company are:
- musculoskeletal injury (MSI) – due in part to an aging workforce for both occupational and non-occupational leaves
- mental health – for example, depression
- cardiovascular – an aging workforce dealing with onset of diabetes, heart issues, blood pressure
As a result of these findings, a new Employee and Family Assistance service provider was engaged in 2009 that focuses on wellness and preventative health measures. Use by employees increased from six per cent in 2008 to 15 per cent in 2009, which is above industry averages. In 2010, wellness initiatives will be introduced at all locations to provide information to employees. Currently research is underway to determine the topics of most interest at each location. Additionally, in 2010, metrics are being developed for occupational health that will determine program enhancements in future.
The company’s Alcohol and Drug program was enhanced in 2009 with an education program for supervisors. Launched three years ago, the program enforces a zero tolerance stance for all safety sensitive positions, and provides guidelines for supporting addicted employees through recovery. TransAlta finances in-house treatment for afflicted employees, backfills their positions and continues to pay them and their counseling as they recover.
Additional workplace health efforts were put in place in 2009 to educate staff about flu prevention, in anticipation of a possible pandemic.