Victorians given WorkHealth scare

By Rob O'Brien

Victorian workers have been given a scare by a State Government-run health program which has found a high percentage don’t exercise enough with a number of people asked to see a doctor within 24 hours.

Premier John Brumby said the largest health check of Victorian workers in the state’s history painted an alarming picture, leaving many people at risk of developing chronic disease.

Victorian workers get free health checks under the Victorian Government’s WorkHealth program, which undertook its 100,000th checkup this week. More than 6,500 businesses are now signed up to the program.

According to results 832 workers tested were identified as being at very high risk and advised to see a doctor within 24 hours of their WorkHealth check.

Almost 50 per cent of male workers were found to have a high or very high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as compared with 32 per cent of females.

Health checks also revealed 38 per cent reported risky levels of alcohol consumption and 93 per cent eat less than the daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.

“The results of the health checks are alarming and show that many Victorians don’t do enough exercise, have a poor diet and drink too much – all of which increase the risk of chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Mr Brumby said.

WorkHealth checks include a brief lifestyle survey together with measurement of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and waist circumference. The checks take around 15 minutes and are delivered by trained health professionals

Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the Brumby Government was focussed on preventative health programs to reduce the impact of chronic disease on the Victorian health system.

"At a Preventative Health Roundtable this week, representatives from industry, the preventative health sector and unions were supportive of the WorkHealth program and the possibility of rolling out this initiative nationally,” Mr Andrews said.

“It is estimated that, over the next five years, WorkHealth will save Victoria's hospital system $300 million and Victoria's employers $200 million in lost productivity.”

Employers and workers interested in getting the free health checks should visit or contact WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 089.


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