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You are here: MEDICA Portal. Our Topics in 2009. Topic of the Month August: The Musculoskeletal System. Interviews.

„I Take no Stock in Conventional Back Exercise Programmes”

„I Take no Stock in Conventional Back Exercise Programmes”

photo: desk

Klaus Pelster is Deputy Head of the Institute for Workplace Health Promotion in Cologne. spoke to the expert about back exercise programmes, quality management and a bad working atmosphere. Mr. Pelster, more than a fourth of all sick days are caused by muscle and bone illnesses. Why is this still such a big problem although these diseases have been fought by back exercise programmes for years?

Klaus Pelster: Because single measures like back exercise programmes have only limited effect. Actually, the employees’ health can only be improved by integrated measures. A workplace health management integrates health in all internal structures and processes and does not separate it. What characterizes a good health management?

Pelster: Among others, employees should be involved in health promotion, for example via attitude surveys or analyses of their work situation. That is to talk with employees of a division about internal processes in order to identify problems. Only after the starting situation concerning the status of employee’s illness, employee commitment and satisfaction is checked, targets can be defined and measures can be developed. In principle, it is similar to quality management. According to a current study of the Institute for Employment Research only 20 percent of all companies offer voluntary measures of workplace health promotion. Why should companies take care of their employees’ well-being?

Pelster: Because it is profitable. Healthier and highly motivated employees are less frequently ill. Moreover, the service quality improves as content employees work better. Each euro I invest in my employees’ health I get two and a half times back. Besides, if I take care well of my employees, I will have no problems to find qualified staffs. Which programmes are especially effective to prevent pain in the back?

Pelster: Back coaching on the job is very effective, for example. Our experts observe the workflow and give advices for a back protecting behaviour. In contrast to that, I take no stock in conventional back exercise programmes as they are not effective in the long run. Generally, it is difficult to say which measure is especially promising. It always depends on the individual problems of the company. If the high status of employee’s illness is the result of a poisoned working atmosphere and a bad personnel management, a back coaching will be relatively worthless, of course. Is there a detectable connection between mean bosses and pain in the back?

Pelster: Yes, actually the personnel management and the status of employee’s illness highly correlate. That is why we offer a management coaching which, among other things, stimulate communication skills as these are often bad.

The interview was conducted by Sonja Endres


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