Performance Management through Nutrition
The fuel you put into your body determines its health and performance.
Except for a few instances most mining and industrial organisations in RSA are opting for the cheapest route, old concept High GI sugar based products, to the detriment of worker performance, in supplying supplements to their workforces.
By doing so they may be perpetuating the costly issues of incidents, absenteeism, occupational health costs and possibly also accidents, in addition to limiting workers performance.
Most workers in RSA fall into the category – live outs – meaning they no longer live in hostels and receive two or three meals a day, based on the 1991 Comro references [Chamber of Mines],for underground mine workers
The Comro References recommend a nutritional intake of between 10000kj and 15000kj daily in order to carry the expected workload and remain healthy. These references which are specific to underground workers, apply more or less to all industrial workers, and even in the case of pit shift workers driving hydraulic equipment the energy demand is high by comparison with their administrative counterparts, due to the long hours on the job and the extra hours travelling back and forth to work.
Making a 12 hour shift 15/16 hours out of a 24 hour day or an 8 hour shift 12 hours out of 24.
Coupled to the above are the apocalyptic factors of the eating habits of pit shift workers
- a lack of knowledge of the role nutrition plays in their capability to do their jobs and maintain their health
- a lack of time available to prepare proper meals to provide sustainable energy, physical stamina, and mental alertness, because of extended shifts and additional travel commitments.
- A lack of financial application to the correct nutrition; resorting to cheap readily available, mainly High GI sources such as takeaways, pap, gravy and vleis, including an overconsumption of sugar based coldrink’s and “bad carbohydrates”, such as sugar rich baked products. Read More [Articles on the poverty status of a large section of the RSA population].
- Environmentally unsuitable accommodation, long hours of costly travelling; and amongst shift workers a disruption of the circadian cycle –
- All of the above leading directly to a fatigued and stressed worker.
Current research by a leading mining group determines that upwards of 50% of their senior shift workers arrive on the job in a hypoglycemic state, with a fasting blood sugar [glucose] well below the ideal of 4.0-6.0 mmol/l, probably because of not having eaten a proper meal or anything for breakfast
The nature of these individuals work is physical, causing blood sugar levels to fall further on commencing work, putting them at extreme risk of developing one or more symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as hunger, trembling, dizziness, headache and palpitations, or even more severe symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, personality changes, weakness, psychosis, rapid and shallow breathing, lack of co-ordination, nausea and in severe cases coma.
Symptom’s such as these significantly increase the risk of injury on duty, and or illness resulting in absenteeism.
Work performance is almost certainly guaranteed not to be optimal or even moderate.
It thus becomes a business decision to provide nutritional supplementation to aid in addressing the above to some extent, whilst deriving the benefits of a more productive, healthier and safer workforce – balancing cost against benefit.
The same logic applies to selecting a 50ppm diesel when topping up your diesel vehicle – the decision of what fuel you put into your vehicle or your worker determines the performance.