Department of Health

Healthy Workers Initiative

Quality Framework  for the  Healthy Workers Initiative

Introduction

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The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (the Department) is implementing the Healthy Workers Initiative (HWI), which is one component of three setting based approaches to reduce the number of Australians at risk of lifestyle‐related chronic disease. These initiatives (Healthy Communities, Healthy Workers and Healthy Children) are occurring under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health.

The Australian Government is providing funding to the states and territories to facilitate the delivery of healthy living programs in workplaces in their jurisdictions. The Initiative is focusing on reducing smoking rates, improving nutrition – particularly fruit and vegetable intake, increasing rates of physical activity and reducing alcohol consumption. Funding for the states and territories began on 1 July 2011. To find out more about what is happening in each of the states and territories see the implementation plans for each jurisdiction available on
http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/national_partnership_agreements/healt h.aspx

The Australian Government is further supporting the states and territories by the development of a national awards program, a national workplace health promotion toolkit and web portal for employers, a national Joint Statement of Commitment to promote good health through workplaces and this Quality Framework.

The development of this Quality Framework follows extensive consultation with stakeholders including healthy lifestyle program providers, corporate wellness providers, academics, government representatives, peak bodies, employers and employee representatives.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between all the components of the overall Initiative.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between all the components of the overall InitiativeDescription of Figure 1
Figure1:ComponentsofHealthyWorkers

The Joint Statement of Commitment

The Australian Government recognises the important role workplaces can play in promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles. Partnership between the Australian Government, peak employer/industry bodies and unions is crucial to improving the health of the working population. A statement demonstrating the important commitment of these parties to promote good health in and through workplaces was signed in August 2011. The Joint Statement of Commitment ­Promoting Good Health at Work is available for download at www.healthyworkers.gov.au .The Statement articulates a number of core principles. These principles will also underpin the development of this Quality Framework and are that:
  • Participation by employers/businesses/the self employed in the initiative is voluntary.
  • Participation or non‐participation by individuals in workplace programs is voluntary.
  • Participation or non‐participation will not result in discrimination.
  • Confidentiality of health information will apply.
  • Participants will have access to their own health information and it will not form part of an ‘employee record’.
  • Data for feedback to employers/businesses will only be used when it is not possible to identify individuals.
  • Occupational Health & Safety legislation requires workplaces to be safe and healthy which may have some overlap with this non‐mandatory initiative.
  • The programs and activities will complement and not detract from Occupational Health & Safety legislation requirements and obligations.
  • Workplace parties will have the ability to choose programs that are suitable to their workplaces.

A supportive environment based on engagement, consultation and the subsequent agreement of workplace

The Healthy Workers Initiative Quality Framework

Successful healthy worker programs comprise three essential mechanisms: Information and awareness; behaviour and environmental change; and workforce engagement. These mechanisms will be best achieved by workplace commitment and action, and the provision of evidence informed programs by quality providers (internal or external to workplaces). Consequently there are three components to this Quality Framework. Each of these components has been developed based on the available evidence and expert input. Each component is explained in a separate section of this document, each aimed as a stand alone document. This enables you to only read the section/s that apply to you. The three components are shown in Figure 2 and are:
Principles for Healthy Workplaces
Healthy Lifestyle Provider Registration
  • for organisations and employers
  • for providers of healthy lifestyle programs to organisations and employees
Healthy Lifestyle Program Registration
  • for developers of stand alone programs.

Figure 2: Componenets of the the Healthy Workers Initaitive Quality Framework Description of Figure 2
Figure 2: Componenets of the the Healthy Workers Initaitive Quality Framework

Development of the Quality Framework

The development of the Quality Framework has taken into account the context and policy environment in which the initiative is currently funded. This includes the focus on physical activity, nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption, noting that mental health is not currently explicitly included in the Healthy Workers scope. The Healthy Workers initiative is also taking a population based approach to change lifestyle behaviours to reduce the risk of chronic disease; it is not imposing these programs on workplaces, rather using the workplace as a setting to reach a large proportion of the population. The Healthy Workers initiative must also co‐exist synergistically with workplace health and safety obligations. The Quality Framework for the Healthy Workers Initiative:
  • supports the use of health promoting approaches recognising the need to balance individual behaviour change, organisational culture with environmental improvements
  • recognises existing relevant accreditation, professional registration and credentialing schemes
  • recognises existing quality improvement frameworks that program providers/employers may currently follow
  • promotes the use of the current evidence base to ensure culturally, geographically, demographically and socio‐economically appropriate and effective programs and interventions
  • supports capacity building and continual improvement
  • acknowledges different levels of risk and supports risk identification and appropriate risk mitigation
  • recognises and attempts to minimise the administrative burden (where possible) and streamline administrative requirements
  • recognises the need for review and evolution of the Framework.
  • is voluntary
  • covers workplaces, programs and providers
  • recognises and complements existing workplace health and safety requirements.

Which component is for me

Implementing the Healthy Workers Initiative requires engagement and action by employers, a strong private provider sector and programs that are endorsed by experts. Consequently the Healthy Workers Quality Framework (HWQF) comprises three components as shown in above in Figure 2:
  • Principles for Healthy Workplaces. A set of principles for employers wishing to establish, maintain and improve healthy lifestyle programs within their workplaces. These principles are supportive in nature and will not be formally assessed. The Principles are intended to provide the basis for workplace policy, programs and activities in this area but are not intended to provide the ‘how to’ instructions. Further resources on the practical application of the principles are contained on the web portal.
  • Program Registration based on an expert, third party assessment of programs against a set of criteria (see Figure 3). This component is for those program developers who wish to have discrete programs formally recognised and/or make their programs available for use by others. A guide is included for those wishing to have their programs registered explaining the basis for the criteria and requirements for registration.
  • Provider Registration based on self‐assessment and third‐party desk‐top audit against criteria that are grouped in eight domains. This component is for those providers providing healthy lifestyle programs directly in workplaces or to employees. Figure 4 shows the overarching model of domains and Table 1 the standards and criteria. These are further supported in the extensive guide for providers which outlines the justification, resources, templates and required evidence for each criterion.


In some situations more than one component will apply. For example program providers may wish to promote good health in their own workplaces and therefore will use both the Provider Registration and Principles for Healthy Workplaces. An employer may use all three components. They may have developed a program that they want to have registered in its own right, providing activities and programs directly to employees, and are using the Principles for Healthy Workplaces to assess the comprehensiveness of their approach.

For providers that operate a license, franchise or contracted model discussions with the Registration Body will confirm who, and at which level, your organisation needs to be Registered. This will depend on the nature of the arrangement with respect to issues of branding, training, quality control and risk liability.

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Published date: July 2012