Monday, September 3, 2007

Food For Thought

You have most likely heard the message that an impaired worker is an unsafe worker. Usually we think of a worker that
is impaired as one who comes to work under the influence of a chemical. Drugs and alcohol probably come first to your
mind when we talk about chemical impairment. Chemically, a healthy body is well balanced. Impairment occurs when
the drugs alter your blood chemistry. Can you think of another, subtler way in which blood chemistry can be altered?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

It is food or perhaps more commonly, the lack of food. Everyone that watches television has heard how important a good
breakfast is for children. It's a well-documented fact that children who start the day with a good breakfast do much better
in school. While the nutritional needs of adults are different than children, they are important and nutrition affects your
performance in all areas of your work, including safety.

Think back to the last time you were really hungry…what do you remember? Most likely, it was a dull ache in the pit of
your stomach, which successfully prevented you from thinking very long about anything other than how hungry you were.
To perform your job safely, you need to be concentrating on the task at hand, not, "when's lunch?" Inadequate nutrition
also decreases endurance, memory, arithmetic reasoning, reading ability and attention span. You may say that your job
doesn't require reading or arithmetic skills. However, decreases in performance in these areas are similarly experienced
when one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In other words, inadequate nutrition is an impairment.

While breakfast may be the day's most important meal, many people begin to fade around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Prevention
magazine reported that researchers found that performance increased significantly when a high calorie snack was eaten in
the afternoon, rather than drinking the more common diet soda.

The Food-for-Thought in this safety meeting is Eat Well. Have a nutritious breakfast, a healthy lunch, and a snack in the
afternoon. Eating nutritious foods or snacks maintains your metabolism, assisting you in sustaining or improving your job
performance and concentration on the job. This in turn can improve your personal safety performance and make you more
comfortable during the day by getting rid of that uncomfortable ache.

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