Slovenia — ‘Care for a healthy worker’ programme at the Velenje coal mine
Premogovnik Velenje coal mine is committed to worker safety and health, having established the ‘Care for a healthy worker’ programme in 1998. The programme aims to reduce sickness absence and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and targets all workers, prioritising older employees. Senior benefits apply to men over 46 and women over 45 years. In-house assessments led to work adaptations, while return-to-work interviews yielded improvements to working conditions. Other activities are identified through work ability and age structure analyses and statistics from the Institute of Public Health. Activities include tailored medical examinations, active vacations for at-risk employees, preventive short breaks and sports activities. Annual evaluation shows reduced sickness absence and workplace accident rates, and there is early detection of MSDs. Planned improvements include the extension of preventive training to all employees. Company commitment continues with its participation in a two-year European occupational safety and health (OSH) project. Success factors include the strong OSH policy, assessment of worker needs, use of external supports, diverse measures and regular evaluation. The programme is transferable to other industries if appropriate modifications are implemented.