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Put health back into health, safety.

At Sudbury-based Sandvik Mining and Construction, company policy is to put the "health" back into health and safety policy.

"Too often, companies, especially in a mining town like Sudbury, focus only on the safety side of health and safety. Companies sometimes include it just to complete the phrase," says Gilles Lebeau, general manager of the company. Sandvik Mining and Construction is a division of Sandvik Tamrock, a Swedish-based high technology engineering group.

According to Lebeau, improving health in industry is one way to improve the image of Sudbury's industrial base.

"Our company tries to promote healthy lifestyles. We think that's important. Sudbury has received a lot of bad press recently because of its low life expectancy. We can say it's the environment we live in. But, when the day is done, we need to improve it," he says.

One of the innovative ways Sandvik is trying to promote healthy lifestyles among its employees is the introduction of a 75 per cent reimbursement on membership in Weight Watchers. The company is also cautious about the commitment employees have to the program. They require company workers to put forward 25 per cent of the cost of enrolling and they do not reimburse the employee until after they have completed a certain percentage of the classes. Officials also say they are willing to listen to any other ideas that will promote healthy living.

The company also helps employees who are trying to kick their smoking habits. Sandvik will support as many attempts as it takes for a particular employee to quit smoking. Sandvik is also looking into the possibility of building a health facility in its building. Many employees, he says, cannot make the long trip downtown to an exercise gym from the company's office in Lively. Lebeau says the presence of both male and female shower rooms in the building makes the possibility of a fitness facility even that more realistic for the company.

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The company's overall policy is to be flexible when it comes to suggestions from employees and to approach health and safety as part of the overall productivity strategy of the company, says Lebeau.

Sandvik also supports education as a way of investing in its employees. Children of employees are able to work a few summers at the company if they qualify for a program that is targeted at helping students who are entering or into their first year of post-secondary education. Sandvik will also help fund an employee's education related to the employee's field of expertise or ambitions within the company.

www.smc.sandvik.com

BY JOSEPH QUESNEL

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2004 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Quesnel, Joseph
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:4EUSW
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:435
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