Health Links (HL): What does being a healthy business mean to your organization?
RLW Sand Storage (RLW): A healthy business is essential to our operations. Our business is hazardous and challenging, both mentally and physically. When in full operation, RLW operates 24/7 with three shifts, needing employees to often work late nights and early mornings. Due to this schedule, our employees often cannot take scheduled breaks and experience symptoms of sleep deprivation and fatigue. Our employees also work outside, subjecting them to inclement weather.
When we instill being healthy and safe in the workplace, we create a work environment where our employees feel safe and cared about. This includes safety in both the plant operations and from environmental hazards. Our plant is located in an industrial part of Denver and is often targeted by gangs for graffiti. To promote safety in this environment, our employees receive safety training in plant operations and safety training for working at night and in an unsafe part of Denver.
HL: How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
RLW: RLW is a small, family-owned business, and we employ a safety and health professional. Since partnering with Health Links, RLW has created a culture that includes employee-focused well-being. Our employees are more committed to safety, health, and the environment. They enthusiastically participate in meetings, trainings, and community activities, and they are more receptive to embracing healthier habits.
HL: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
RLW: Most of our employees used to smoke either cigarettes or cigars. Although smoking is not allowed in the plants, employees did smoke during their breaks. After partnering with Health Links, our employees were challenged to quit smoking. Within a month, with Health Links advice, we no longer have any employees who smoke. Our employees have also been more receptive to health tips concerning exercising and healthy eating. Since our employees have quit smoking, there is less stress burnout and better mental focus. Our employees have also become more aware of their dietary habits and experienced more physical energy and mental focus.
At a community level, our plant is often a target for graffiti. One bit of graffiti attracts more and signals that the zone is rarely monitored making it more susceptible to further criminal activity. To clean up the graffiti and keep our environment safe, RLW has partnered with the Denver Police Department, Gang Bureau and the City of Denver Partners Against Graffiti to remove the graffiti.
HL: How has Health Links helped your organization?
RLW: Health Links has helped us focus on employee health and identify options for our employees, such as healthy food options at business-sponsored lunches. Health Links has given our employees a chance to voice their opinion on the health and safety culture at RLW.
HL: What tips or pieces of advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safer, and happier environment?
RLW: Since employee health is not a federally/state-mandated program, it needs to be incorporated into mandated safety and environmental programs. Healthy employees are more productive and invest in the business when they feel their well-being is the primary focus.