April 2015

Putting the Health in ‘Health & Safety’

The mining industry has typically placed the most emphasis on SAFETY rather than HEALTH when it comes to Occupational Health and Safety. However, in recognition of the many serious illnesses which are increasingly prevalent in PNG today and the inadequacy of the PNG health system, Anitua Mining Services (AMS) is taking action and directing resources towards a number of employee HEALTH initiatives. One such initiative is its very own program of Health Checks by its very own health professional.

AMS created a new position ‘Health Coordinator’ and employed the services of John Kumb who’d previously worked in a public health capacity for the Lihir Medical Centre. AMS identified the need to employ its own health professional primarily due to the difficulties in sustaining the annual health surveillance medicals for staff at the hospital.

AMS SHEC Superintendent Darren Brown says “John plays a pivotal role in our Health Program and is a great health educator. He also performs basic health checks such as blood pressure and BMI checks. If he suspects that an employee has a medical problem he refers them to hospital for a more thorough check by a doctor. The Health Checks provide a bit of a ‘safety net’ and catch health problems early.” Brown insists that the Health Checks program doesn’t replace the annual medicals but helps AMS cope with the long waiting lists at the hospital and are very important in looking after the health of staff.  

The Health Checks program helps AMS better understand the health of its work force and where to effectively target health education. It also helps AMS target the health of specific individuals and assist them to live a more healthy life. For example, the program can provide an overweight 50 year old operator of a haul truck who is at risk of having a heart attack or a stroke with dietary and exercise advice and get the hospital to provide him with medications that reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Health Coordinator John Kumb taking the blood pressure of Driver Godfrey Birit as part of the AMS Health Checks Program.

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