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Nominations Sought for 2012 Healthy Workplace Awards

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
July 30, 2012

Local employers can be recognized for workplace wellness programs

Wilkes-Barre, PA – Local businesses that have implemented successful workplace wellness programs will soon have an opportunity to be recognized for their efforts.  Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA), ChamberChoice, and seven regional Chambers of Commerce are inviting nominations for the 2012 Healthy Workplace Awards Program.  
Last year’s Healthy Workplace Awards presented through the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce recognized Sallie Mae and Hilton Garden Inn for their successful wellness initiatives.  The Chamber is now accepting nominations for the 2012 Awards in two categories – smaller businesses with one to 49 employees, and larger businesses with 50 or more employees.  
Previous Healthy Workplace Award winners can also be considered for the Continuing Excellence Award, a new award this year designed to recognize a past honoree that continues to pursue workplace wellness.
Wilkes-Barre area companies may nominate themselves or can be nominated by a third party by contacting the Chamber at (570) 823-2101 for the nomination form.  The deadline for nominations is Friday, August 31.  Winners will be honored at a Chamber event later this year.  
Nominations should include a description of the company’s workplace wellness initiatives, such as organizing a wellness committee, organizing staff walks during lunch breaks, offering smoking cessation classes and committing to a smoke-free workplace, offering healthy food choices in vending machines and cafeterias, and arranging health fairs and screenings for employees.
“There is no question that workplace wellness is worth the effort,” said Nina M. Taggart, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for BCNEPA.  “Studies repeatedly show that healthy employees mean greater productivity, less absenteeism and lower health care costs.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that approximately 75 percent of health care costs for employers are related to chronic conditions brought on by obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lack of physical activity – problems that can be addressed through a wellness program.  And according to a recent Gallup poll, unhealthy workers are costing U.S. employers approximately $153 billion annually. 
“BCNEPA applauds all local businesses that are making workplace wellness a priority,” said Dr. Taggart.  “The companies honored with the 2012 Healthy Workplace Awards can serve as an inspiration for other businesses to start a workplace wellness program, and to get their employees started on the path to better health.”
About the Healthy Workplace Awards
In 2007, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, ChamberChoice, and select Chambers in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania introduced the Healthy Workplace Awards program to recognize and reward companies that adopt wellness practices in the workplace.  Over the past five years, the program has recognized more than 50 small and large businesses for their commitment to health.
About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to nearly 545,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations it serves.