After ten years in the injury management business, we at Aurenda have noticed some changes. One change is the increasingly larger waistlines of workers. We are seeing – through our pre-employment assistance to clients – doctors certifying workers who weigh 150kg “fit” for a role which involves sitting on a seat only rated to 130kg. Clearly, the perception of what is “normal” is changing.
In 2002 Australians rated as overweight or obese made up 56% of the population and in 2012 it was 72% (ABS). We are now officially one of the fattest nations in the world and alarmingly this is expected to increase to 80% of the population by 2020. Given the difficulty of finding “fit and healthy” workers to employ in manually-intensive roles, an area of major workers’ compensation concern for employers is the increased likelihood of injury in the first instance and the greater difficulty in returning injured workers who are obese to full capacity once an injury has occurred.