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Diabetes a health and safety issue for oil and gas employers

diabetesDo you know how many of your employees have diabetes? Do you know if your workplace helps or hinders them in managing their condition – or even preventing it in the first place?

At the coming APPEA Health, Safety and Environment Conference, Nick Nation, Principal Consultant for HealthSmart Solutions will be telling leaders in the oil and gas industry why they need to pay attention to Australia’s fastest growing condition.

Employers will often not know whether an employee has diabetes, unless it directly affects their ability to safely and effectively perform their duties.

There are now 1.1 million people diagnosed with diabetes in Australia. However, estimates suggest the real figure is closer to 1.7 million, with thousands of people living with undiagnosed diabetes.

“These statistics tell us you probably already have more than one employee living with diabetes,” he said. “The question becomes, how does your workplace support them in managing their condition?”

“If diabetes isn’t well managed it can have a significant impact on how an employee functions at work. This could then impact on productivity, injury rates and the rates of absenteeism.

“This is especially so when it comes to employees who are undiagnosed or struggling to manage their condition.”

He pointed to hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, as a very real complication of the condition that could have an immediate and devastating impact on workplace safety.

Though an entirely manageable complication, an employee experiencing a “hypo” may display behaviour typically associated with drinking alcohol – dizziness, slurred words and an inability to concentrate.

“You couldn’t say a person experiencing a hypo was fit for work,” Mr Nation said. “This becomes a health and safety issue if the employee is not supported in managing this complication at work.”

The ideal situation, he said, is that employees feel able to talk their employer about their diabetes – or any other health condition – diagnosis, discuss any risks and make sure they are mitigated.

According to Mr Nation, there are many strategies employers can implement to support those living with diabetes. Those same strategies, he noted, would also prove beneficial to others who did not have the condition but were at high-risk of developing it.

WHAT: Diabetes at Work: Recognising risk factors, assessing impacts and managing complications in the workplace. 2014 APPEA National Health, Safety and Environment Conference and HSR Forum.

WHO:   Nick Nation, Principal Consultant of HealthSmart Solutions

WHEN: 11.00am, 1 September 2014

WHERE: Crown Hotel, Burswood

To hear Mr Nation speak visit www.appeahseconference.com.au and register online.

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