safety health

As many mining companies invest in the social and economic upliftment of their employees and the communities in which they operate, the value of an integrated programme to manage risk and proactively protect the health and wellbeing of the workforce should not be underestimated.

“One of the most direct means for the private sector to meaningfully contribute towards addressing inequality in our society, is for corporates to make provision for health and wellness needs of their employees,” says Dr Jacques Snyman, clinical development expert for Agility.

Globally, access to healthcare and education are acknowledged as key factors in reducing poverty and stimulating productivity that drives economic growth.

Within the South African context, mining remains a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) and, as a major source of employment, the mining industry has the potential to leverage investments in the health of its workforce to realise improved productivity.

With large numbers of employees within the mining industry becoming ill or incapacitated each year due to lifestyle conditions and or occupational injuries, access to intuitive healthcare cover can go a long way towards improving productivity in the workforce and managing associated risks both in the workplace and offsite. Offsite risks are too frequently brought back to the workplace in some form of impairment reducing the ability to work.

Experience in the mining industry indicates that the greatest burdens to the health of workers are often preventable or manageable, however the underlying causes need to be effectively addressed in order to make a meaningful and sustained difference to overall worker productivity.

While most mines have their own healthcare programmes in place, high rates of illness and chronic disease among mineworkers have created the need for additional support and wellness services to keep the workforce healthy and productive.

“What is required is a holistic approach; a comprehensive disease management programme that can assist valued staff members with chronic conditions to remain compliant with their prescribed medication and are empowered with the information they need to keep themselves healthy.

“In addition, mental health and wellbeing is increasingly being recognised as a significant factor in job performance,” Dr Snyman explains.

“Such an approach, encompassing occupational health, preventative and curative care, as well as productivity and wellbeing including absenteeism management, not only mitigates risk for employers, it can also prevent more costly problems developing in future”.

“There are considerable advantages to having a single point of contact to integrate and support health and wellbeing initiatives among employees of all levels on an ongoing basis.”

The Agility Mining solution is underpinned with physical and biometric data, focusing on preventative care that is seamlessly integrated with the employees’ curative care programme including occupational health and medical scheme cover, which ensures that staff members have superior protection and access to healthcare.

With reduced levels of absenteeism and healthy workers tending to be more engaged at work, productivity improves. In addition, health and wellness related causes of staff attrition are reduced, thereby saving on costs associated with recruitment and training of new employees.  

“Agility StaffCare, which is fully tax deductable, takes care of primary health among low-income employees, providing access to a dedicated network of private healthcare providers for day-to-day health needs. Holistic preventative care and productivity management is provided through Agility Employee Wellbeing, including absenteeism management, while Agility Life offers group risk benefits,” says Bianca Viljoen, director of distribution at Agility.

Medical scheme and health benefits, from primary through tertiary healthcare, that caters to the specific needs of staff at every level within a company are available through Agility Mining’s medical scheme partner, Health Squared, which offers 11 benefit options to fulfill the needs of employees across the entire spectrum of income brackets.

“The Foundation option is particularly popular with employers in the mining industry, as it provides affordable and extensive cover, including maternity benefits and unlimited private hospital care for prescribed minimum benefit conditions, for staff on lower income levels,” Viljoen notes.

“Our complete solution includes a rewards programme, which further provides access to useful services including telephonic advice on financial, health and legal concerns, as well as trauma counselling. This is particularly helpful in addressing the root causes of stress, which may negatively impact staff performance.”

“Flexible or more structured access to funding for healthcare, that can be independent of medical scheme cover, is also available for the entire workforce.

“For added convenience, any short-falls are automatically and seamlessly processed through the comprehensive medical scheme, gap and co-pay cover, health savings, employee wellbeing and employee benefits solution.

“If implemented in a properly integrated manner, the enhanced efficiencies and benefits in terms of risk mitigation that can be achieved outweigh the costs associated with such an investment, ultimately leading to improved profitability for employers, thereby benefiting the wider economy. In addition, staff members are empowered to live healthier and remain economically active contributors to society,” Viljoen concludes.