Lawyers and risk matters

When the lawyers start quoting health and safety legislation, health related statistics and data one must sit up and ponder what may be coming down the litigious channel.

Brazel and Moore – a Gosford (NSW) based law practice, where compensation is their leading masthead, have highlighted that obesity in the workplace is one of the risks that employers now face.

“An employer is now legally required to play a role in tackling workplace health issues such as obesity” and they go on, “Employers are legally obliged to ensure that they are minimising those causal risk and addressing the weigh tissue”.

Currently in Australia around 28% of individual are obese and around 36% are overweight. Obese is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. Overweight is a BMI 25-29.

Our data from Australia workplaces suggests 27% are obese, with 49% overweight. This now means that being normal weight within the Aussie workforce you are in the minority at 24%. Our data shows the changing pattern of obesity across age groupings (n=1687) within Australia workforces.

Supporting this potential tsunami of claims, a waist girth measure indicates a similar trend. This measure is well regarded in terms of indication of risk. The classifications are from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Our data shows the changing pattern of waist measurement across age groupings. (n=1687)

There are many other risks associated with being overweight and obese in the workplace and maybe they too may be present compensable elements.

It is worth noting that obese individuals take 88% more sick leave and present a 25% higher risk of work-related injuries and medical claims. They can also have up to 18 days per year in sick leave compared to the 2 days leave a person in the normal weight range will take.

This article is not about discrimination. It is about facts and a real risk in the Australian workplace. Mitigating risks associated with being overweight and/or obese would present a great financial saving and improved health profiles.

If this can happen everyone would be a winner.

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