Women’s Health in the Workplace

For 2019, Women’s Health Week in Australia is September 2 - 6. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health says, “The two biggest barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’. Women’s Health Week is the time to do something for your health and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime.”

During Women’s Health Week, we should all take the time to better understand women’s health needs and consider what we can do to help those around us. Employers should prioritize women’s health at work every day of the year in order to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

Why Women’s Health Week?

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a national not-for-profit organisation that supports women with free resources, clinical care, and health information.

The first Women’s Health Week in Australia was run by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health in 2013. In 2018, 85,000 women participated in over 2100 events across Australia. Organisations, businesses, ambassadors, as well as community sports and media groups, make donations and host special events for Women’s Health Week each year.

How Workplaces Can Participate in Women’s Health Week

Women’s Health Week hopes that workplaces across Australia will participate by hosting events, sharing educational materials, and donating.

Here are the ways businesses across Australia can help:

  • Become a Women's Health Week Major Partner.
  • Sponsor a key activity or item for Women's Health Week.
  • Sign up to participate and promote the campaign’s key messages.
  • Distribute Jean Hailes’ free educational and promotional resources.
  • Host a Women's Health Week workplace event.
  • Order gift bags and event merchandise for your workplace.
  • Donate prizes.
  • Donate in-kind support.

Learn more about how your workplace can participate in Women’s Health Week this September.

The Importance of Women’s Health in the Workplace
Women’s Cancer

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer. Thankfully, the survival rates in Australia continue to improve. 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now survive five or more years beyond their initial diagnosis. Early detection of breast cancer is the best chance of surviving the disease.

While breast cancer is the most common, Ovarian cancer is the deadliest women’s cancer. In Australia, 4 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day. Out of the 4 lives, 3 will be claimed by the disease.

Providing women with the resources, education, and health assessment opportunities to diagnose cases of cancer early on can reduce their risks.

Types of cancer that specifically affect women:

  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine/Endometrial cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)
  • Primary Peritoneal Cancer (PPC)

Learn more about gynaecologic cancers, diagnosis, and treatment from the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.

What Can Employers Do?

  • Offer routine employee health checks that include cancer screenings.
  • Provide educational resources on how to prevent and diagnose common cancers.
  • Give additional support to your aging workforce.
  • Participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).
  • Participate in Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (February).
  • Participate in Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (November).
  • Provide exit medicals for all employees leaving your employ.

💡 Exit medicals provide employees leaving your business with a better understanding of their current health and any potential health risks they should monitor. Learn more about The Benefits of Employee Exit Medical Assessments.

Bladder Health

Bladder conditions such as urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, and urinary urgency are extremely common in women, but seldom ever discussed.

According to Dr. Tamara Bavendam of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Because discussion of bodily functions related to organs below the belly button is not considered polite, bladder problems are often ignored, unrecognized by clinicians, and hidden by women who may be too embarrassed to acknowledge that they experience them.”

Providing women with regular health checks that shine a light on bladder health may allow your female employees to speak out and seek treatment for sensitive issues such as proper bladder function.

What Can Employers Do?

  • Offer routine employee health checks.
  • Participate in Bladder Health Month (November).
  • Provide clean bathroom facilities for all employees.
  • Reduce any stigma around taking breaks at work.
Heart Health

Heart Research Australia says: “Heart disease kills almost three times as many Australian women than breast cancer. Moreover, about 40% of heart attacks in women are fatal, and many occur without prior warning.”

Heart disease is often less recognised in women because they experience less specific symptoms than men. Women also have a tendency to develop heart disease symptoms much later in life compared to men, which means the urgency of the health concern may be overlooked.

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Visual Source: Heart Research Australia

What Can Employers Do?

  • Offer routine employee health checks.
  • Provide educational resources on how to prevent and diagnose heart disease.
  • Support healthy lunches in the workplace.
  • Offer healthy snacks in the workplace (fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.)
  • Support physical activity initiatives (taking the stairs, playing sports, etc.)
  • Participate in Heart Week.
  • Give additional support to your aging workforce.

💡 Increased awareness and proper precautions can help reduce the risk of heart disease and the large number of lives we lose to it. Learn how to Take Care of Your Heart Health at Work to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.

Reproductive Health

Women require additional health support for their reproductive health. Because of the nature of the topic, reproductive health concerns may not get the attention they deserve. Reproductive health is very personal, which means people find it difficult to speak about. Lack of resources, education, and awareness around reproductive health contribute to health problems that, in some cases, are preventable.

Common reproductive health concerns for women include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Gynaecologic Cancer

What Can Employers Do?

  • Offer routine employee health checks.
  • Provide educational resources on reproductive health and the associated health concerns.
  • Provide clean bathroom facilities for all employees.
  • Reduce any stigma around taking breaks at work.
  • Provide free feminine hygiene products in all women’s bathrooms.
  • Offer health insurance plans that cover birth control and other reproductive services.
  • Offer additional no-questions-asked wellness days in addition to regular vacation and sick days.
Mental Health

While good mental health is important for both sexes, women can experience poor mental health conditions at higher rates than men. Depression, anxiety, grief, poor body image, and post-pregnancy can all have a impacts on a woman’s mental and emotional health.

[1 in 6 Australian women will experience depression, and 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety in their lifetime](https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/women. In addition, women suffer from eating disorders as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at higher rates than men.

Providing women with the education, resources, and health assessment opportunities to identify mental health disorders can alleviate the stigma that is often tied to mental illness, allowing them to find the help they need.

What Can Employers Do?

  • Offer routine employee health checks.
  • Provide educational resources about mental health.
  • Participate in Mental Health Week (October).
  • Offer additional no-questions-asked wellness days in addition to regular holidays and sick days.
Routine Employee Health Checks

Ongoing employee health checks can identify potential health risks for your whole team.

An employee health check includes a range of medical assessments that help identify potential risks to the health and wellbeing of your workforce. Health checks that specifically address the health needs of your female employees also send a clear signal to your employees that you value their health both in and out of the workplace. Invest in your employees—they are your most valuable asset.

Routine employee health checks support a healthy workforce by:

  • Identifying and supporting mental illness.
  • Identifying health risks early.
  • Reducing illness or injury absenteeism.
  • Improving company morale.
  • Supporting an aging workforce.
Workplace Health Resources

Workforce Health Assessors supports workplace health through pre-employment medicals and ongoing employee health checks. WHA organises, performs, and reports on medical assessments to help businesses mitigate health risks. We handle everything from pre-employment medicals, drug and alcohol screenings, to workplace wellness initiatives. Learn more about our employee health checks and other health assessment services.

Continue Supporting Your Workforce

Fatigue in the workplace can reduce productivity and increase the likelihood of mistakes on the job. Learn how to Prevent and Manage Symptoms of Fatigue in the Workplace.

Sedentary lifestyles lead to a higher risk of health problems, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat. Learn how employers and employees can Reduce Sedentary Behaviour at Work.