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Screening programmes show prevention is better than cure Volvo, famous for its role in increasing driver safety with the introduction of the three-point seat belt in 1959, is trying to apply the same ethic to improving the health of its workforce. Since last year, the company’s UK arm has been offering regular health screening for its employees, including checks for common cancers as well as comprehensive physical assessments for management. “There are two ways of minimising the impact of an accident,” says Simon Eade, human resources manager at Volvo Cars UK. First, he says, there is preventing the accident in the first place and, second, minimising the impact after the accident has occurred. “Health checks are like preventative safety to avoid people having accidents,” he says. Volvo introduced its programme after a long-serving member of the team at the company’s headquarters in Maidenhead, south-east England, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived the scare, but the incident highlighted how important health checks can be. © Scott Chambers Putting an exact number on the direct benefits of health screening is difficult, not least because its positive effects are hard to distinguish from those resulting from other health initiatives, but those who are monitoring such programmes say the benefits are evident. “We see through our own engagement surveys that a fit and healthy workforce is an engaged workforce that is more innovative, more creative, and is going to deliver better outcomes for your clients,” says Tony Horan, head of human capital and diversity at Accenture UK, the consultancy, which offers health assessments to its employees every five years. Likewise, feedback from screening programmes can help employers to identify health issues across the company and in roles that have differing mental and physical challenges. “We get trends and analysis from the company that provides the health screenings so that we can target our [occupational health] education programmes,” says Hamish Watson, UK human resources director at Scottish Power. The UK utility company’s employees are split between office-based retail and customer service teams and a technical field operation.