According to the German Federal Statistical Office, companies’ sickness absence rates are on the rise. In 2007, employees in Germany reported sickness for 8.1 working days on average, compared to 10.9 days in 2019. What can companies do against this trend? And what role can electromagnetic radiation play in this context?
Can the quality of a job influence the sickness absence rates in the company?
Work plays a central role in most people’s lives. It provides financial support and security. We also spend a large part of the day at work. For many people, having a good job is an important element contributing to satisfaction, quality of life, good health and well-being. There are many aspects to consider:
- Can working conditions and the overall environment affect health?
- Is good work-life balance achievable?
- How safe is the job?
- Is collaboration at work effective?
If employees are dissatisfied and feel physically or mentally stressed, the sickness absence rates in the company tend to increase.
Which diseases were most common?
The costs of sickness due to cardiovascular diseases in Germany amounted to 46.4 billion euros in 2015. As reported by the German Federal Statistical Office, cardiovascular diseases accounted for around 13.7% of the total medical costs of 338.2 billion euros, closely followed by mental and behavioral disorders with 44.4 billion euros and a share of 13.1%.
What do the sick note, sick leave & absenteeism mean
Doctors use the term Statement of Fitness for Work for sick notes, which are also used by health insurance companies in the statistics. The terms sick leave and absenteeism are used by organisations themselves. Absenteeism in HR is a period of time, measured in hours or days, in which the staff was absent from the workplace. Sick leave, on the other hand, only provides information about the extent of sick leave by employees.
Absences of three days or more are recorded, because only then is the employee obliged to submit a sick note. This means that the number of sick days is higher than the data seen in health insurance companies’ statistics.
In Germany, in the event of illness, the employer is required to continue paying out wages for a maximum of six weeks per year. As a consequence, this lowers the company’s profits, as well as productivity of the paid but absent employee. Health insurance companies only pay out sick pay after six weeks of continuous illness. The average cost of illness per capita in 2015 was 4,140 euros.
Effective measures to reduce sickness absence rates
- Analyse absenteeism rates and its causes
- Optimise your workplace
- Consider flexible working hours
- Take into account opportunities for further training
- Consider selection and placement of employees
- Increase internal communication and employee appraisals
- Include Corporate Health Management
- Discuss accident prevention in the workplace & EMF protective measures
Promoting health and wellbeing: Allianz reduces electrosmog at workplace
A standard office environment usually includes intense use of PCs and other digital technology. These have all been shown to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of employees.
This is why Allianz Handwerker Services GmbH and Mondial Assistance Deutschland GmbH started to incorporate measures to reduce electrosmog at work in 2013. The project was initiated by Norbert Bierbaum-Hillejan, who, at the time, acted as a chairman for Munich companies.
Almost 750 workplaces were examined to identify sources of interference in order to locate them, analyse them and reduce them.
Positive outcomes of the project:
- Motivated and committed employees
- Improved cooperation between management and employee representatives
- Better communication between employees and superiors
- Reduction in sick leave from 5% to 3%
Bierbaum-Hillejan provided the following comments: “The advice for home also impacted the success of the project: Many employees have changed their behavior and switched off the Wifi overnight, have bought a low-radiation DECT telephone or even a corded phone again. The families also benefited from this and the employees come to work in the morning relaxed and motivated. […]
The decrease in sick leave was certainly positively influenced by many factors, but when you see measurable things – such as the enthusiasm of the employees, satisfied, happy faces, a reduction in sick days and greater acceptance by the management – you don’t have to think about it, you have to just do it. […] Yes, it has paid off many times over. At Allianz Handwerker Services, for instance, the initially high red numbers were converted into black and more secured jobs! ”
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An overview of occupational safety guidelines on electrosmog
General protection guideline
In the area of high-frequency fields, these refer to the protection of the general population. Compared to the exposure of the general population, higher levels of exposure generally occur at workplaces.
European occupational safety directive
This ordinance came into force on November 19, 2016 in relation to occupational safety, issued by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. It implements the European Occupational Safety and Health Directive 2013/35 / EU on minimum requirements for the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risk of physical impact (electromagnetic fields), as of June 26, 2013.
To help with implementation, in November 2015 the Commission issued a non-binding guide with best practices for the implementation of Directive 2013/35 / EU – Electromagnetic Fields.
The guide consists of two volumes and a separate guide for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):
DGUV regulation for the protection of employees
- DGUV (German Statutory Accident Insurance) regulation 15 – accident prevention regulation for electromagnetic fields
To protect employees, the DGUV regulation of June 1, 2001 is currently being applied in Germany. Four different exposure areas are defined and different limit values, length of stay and other regulations apply for each of those.
With the exception of exposure area 2, higher field strengths than the 26th BImSchV for the protection of the general population are permitted for high-frequency electromagnetic fields in the professional environment for the operation of stationary systems.
Those who have active and passive body aids (e.g. metallic implants or pacemakers), companies must take special precautionary measures to protect themselves.
Who is responsible?
Occupational radiation protection in the area of high-frequency electromagnetic fields is the responsibility of:
- The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA),
- German state offices for occupational safety and the trade supervisory offices
- Trade associations, such as the Trade association for energy, textile and electrical media products (BG ETEM).
Further information is available from their websites.
We can analyse & reduce the EMF exposure in your company
Our mission is to support you in improving the health and wellbeing of your employees in order to reduce the sickness absence rates in your company. A healthy workplace promotes productivity. That is why we provide analysis of the radiation exposure based on power cables, wifi routers, computers, etc. In addition, we offer individualised advice on how to effectively reduce electromagnetic exposure. Simply get in touch with us to arrange.
At Waveguard, we also develop the highest-quality certified products that allow you to create a radiation-reduced environment, enabling you to still enjoy the perks of modern technology. Do you have any questions about your personal EMF protection? We can help.
Did you like this article? Find more news and updates on electromagnetic radiation in our Waveguard blog.
- Federal Office for Radiation Protection: Occupational Safety. Salzgitter 2020. https://www.bfs.de/DE/themen/emf/hff/schutz/arbeitsschutz/arbeitsschutz_node.html
- Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs: Electromagnetic fields in the workplace. A new scientific approach for the safety and health of employees. Research paper. Bonn 2011. http://www.bmas.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/PDF-Publikationen/fb400-elektromagnetische-felder-deutsch.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
- B-wise GmbH. Business Knowledge Information Service: What measures you can take to reduce sick leave. Karlsruhe 2018. https://www.business-wissen.de/hb/mit-welchen-massnahmen-sie-den-krankenstand-senken/
- Diagnose-Funk – environmental and consumer organisation for protection against electromagnetic radiation e. V .: Allianz frees workplaces from electrosmog.Stuttgart 2013. https://www.diagnose-funk.org/publikationen/artikel/detail?newsid=891
- DIE LINKE parliamentary group. in the Bundestag: number of sick leave in Germany has risen sharply – economic costs at their highest level. Berlin 2018. https://www.linksfraktion.de/themen/nachrichten/detail/zahl-der-krankschreibungen-in-deutschland-stark-gestiegen-volkswirtschaftliche-kosten-auf-hoechstst/
- Geovita – Academy for Radiation Protection: Workplace investigation. Sulzberg 2017. https://geovital.com/dienstleistungen/arbeitsplatz-untersuchung/
- Federal Statistical Office: Cardiovascular diseases cause most of the costs. Wiesbaden 2017. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2017/09/PD17_347_236.html;jsessionid=4BBC8E94F6A8734F83016DF090142115.cae4
- Federal Statistical Office: sick leave. Wiesbaden 2020. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Arbeit/Arbeitsmarkt/Qualitaet-Arbeit/Dimension-2/krankenstand.html
- Federal Statistical Office: Quality of Work. Wiesbaden 2017. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Arbeit/Arbeitsmarkt/Erwerbstaetigkeit/Publikationen/Downloads-Erwerbstaetigkeit/broschuere-qualitaet-arbeit-0010015179004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
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