This week, we have been looking at the Whole Person approach to health and safety and examining the practical applications of each of the five areas that form the method: Mental health, core safety, skills, health and safety culture, and health and wellbeing. For many, several of these elements overlap each other and it can be difficult to determine whether enough is being done in a certain area. For example, mental health and physical wellbeing are often co-dependent, and so it can be easy to believe that the catering of one is enough to satisfy the other. This is not universally true, and the surest approach, as outlined by the Whole Person approach, is to provide wellbeing programs to complement a robust mental health service.
Shoreham Port, for example, has several wellbeing programs for colleagues to help them through a tough year. There is currently a yoga program, giving colleagues a chance to relieve stress through gentle exercise and increased mindfulness. Their social club has been running events virtually throughout the year, to ensure colleagues stay connected. The Port runs a bespoke mentoring programme which has been heavily utilised throughout the year, to ensure colleagues can continue to learn and develop their skills. There is also a cycle to work scheme which offers incentives for those who wish to not just reduce their carbon footprint but also get some exercise in before a busy, and sometimes sedentary, day. This in turn is part of a wider program promoting sustainable travel designed to pursue carbon neutral targets as set by the government and a wider wave of electrification seen throughout the ports sector. These policies have not been easy to sustain. Due to reduced uptake, thanks in part to the Covid pandemic, the yoga class is due to end at the end of 2020. The money that would have been put into the yoga classes is being diverted into the roll out of an Employee Assistance Program, a completely confidential helpline service. The purpose of which is to provide colleagues with confidential counselling and support. It is a more proactive, preventative approach to workplace mental health. In addition to this, the Port is looking to introduce mental health first aiders in 2021, to build on the work they have been doing in this area. As the pandemic continues, alleviating some of the worries of colleagues will prevent a precipitous decline in mental health, and a potential accident.
Shoreham, as well as other ports throughout the UK, also operate a series of programs aimed at looking after the physical health of their colleagues in a more direct manner. Every colleague has been offered a flu vaccination, which the Port commits to providing every year. Outside of Covid, they also run ‘well heart days’, run by medical professionals that provide a balanced health assessment that looks at diet, lifestyle, nutrition and exercise holistically. According to the British Heart Foundation, heart and circulatory diseases account for nearly 170,000 deaths each year and are often the result of lack of exercise or poor diet, both common in modern professions. By offering advice and focused health information to their colleagues, ports can help their workforce keep mentally and physically fit for longer. This also extends to education in matters such as alcohol, smoking, and drugs. We all have vices and apart from drugs, it is perfectly acceptable to indulge in moderation. Shoreham Port has a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and alcohol with a robust policy in place. Within this, there is support for any colleague that steps forward that is struggling with drug and alcohol use, without fear of losing their employment. It is a policy that other ports employ, but it helps to promote an atmosphere in which colleagues feel supported and stable, increasing their mental and physical wellbeing. However, it should be noted that as with all ports, if a colleague is discovered under the effects of alcohol or drugs while on site, immediate action is taken.
These are just a few examples of what Shoreham Port is doing to protect and care for the physical and mental wellbeing of their colleagues. Other ports have developed their own policies and it is important to state that matters of wellbeing are contextual. What works for Shoreham may not work for Aberdeen or London and it is a constantly evolving process that must adapt and respond to the needs of employees. PSS believes however that by communicating with us and each other, good ideas can be shared, refined, and adopted into best practise for the wellbeing of over 17,000 employees.