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Workers’ compensation is an inevitable issue for some companies. When your employees do certain motions day after day, year after year, it’s going to wear down their bodies. But maybe not; maybe it’s just a matter of proper maintenance. After all, we take our cars in regularly, with the cars that acquire more miles quickly being checked out more often. So why don’t we give the same treatment to our bodies?

Well, most of us just don’t have the time. And many of us sit at a desk all day, leaving our body parts more vulnerable to falling asleep than falling apart. But for those in jobs where arduous physical exertion is part of the job description, it makes sense that one’s body needs frequent tune-ups. One Nebraska company, Lincoln Industries, has taken matters into its own hands, instituting an independent wellness program.

In fact, the company employs 3 people devoted entirely to managing its workers’ wellness. Some of the perks: optional pre-shift stretching and on-site massages. Not bad, huh? The company also conducts annual blood, hearing, and vision screenings, and requires quarterly check-ups that measure weight, body fat, and flexibility. The workers are then given a fitness rating, ranging from ‘platinum’ to ‘non-medal.’ In order to achieve platinum status, the worker must be a non-smoker.

Although this might all seem a little ‘Big Brother’ to some people, it appears to benefit employers and employees alike. No one is forced to be healthier, but those interested in improving their fitness scores are helped along the way. The company offers classes on health and nutrition, as well as healthy snacks in its vending machines. They’ll also help with gym memberships and exercise equipment.

And what’s the payoff for the employer? Lower healthcare costs…a lot lower. As CNN reports, “The company pays less than $4,000 per employee, about half the regional average and a savings of more than $2 million. That makes the $400,000 Lincoln Industries spends each year on wellness a bargain.” And workers’ compensation claims have dropped, too; the company reports that increased fitness has pushed workers comp costs down from $500,000 five years ago to less than $10,000 thus far in 2008.

Let’s hope that this marks a trend toward smart employment practices, keeping business going well by keeping employees healthy and happy. And for those of us without vigilant employer programs, perhaps it can inspire us to take control of our own fitness regimens. From a legal standpoint, frequent check-ups are certainly helpful, not only for keeping your body in good shape, but for documenting the changes that your body undergoes over time. Causation is always a key issue in workers’ compensation claims. So, take care of yourself and don’t ignore your body’s signs of trouble. We may not need an oil change every 7,500 miles, but we do need to go see a doctor every so often.

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