At the forefront of any occupation, employees need to ensure they are putting their health first. As we all know this is even more pertinent when it comes to working as a veterinarian or veterinary nurse. Its a physical and emotionally demanding job. Productivity, emotional resilience, mental focus, physical strength and endurance can all be dependent on the person’s current health status.

The current research into workplace wellness has shown the following:

Healthy employees have been estimated to be 3x more productive than unhealthy employees- (Medibank Private Ltd,The Cost of Workplace Stress, 2008.)

Happy and Well employees are 180% more energized, 108% more engaged, 50% more motivated, achieve goals 30% more and contribute 25% more (Jessica Pryce-Jones,Happiness at Work, Maximizing your Psychological Capital for Success, 2010)

Here are some practical ways to ensuring employees are putting their health first:

Set yourself up right

As humans we were designed to move. Sitting for hours on end working at a computer is not part of our biomechanical make up. These days there are very few jobs out there that don’t require prolonged periods of computer related tasks. Ensuring your workstation is set up specific to each employee’s requirement will assist with promoting good postures in the workplace and reduce the likelihood of injury.

If there is a workstation that is shared between employees it is important that each employee has the knowledge to set themselves up correctly at the beginning of the day. Providing the right adjustable equipment so that each employee can modify the workstation with ease will make this a simpler and effortless process. Some examples can include providing ergonomic adjustable chairs or sit/stand stools, adjustable monitor stand and footstools.

Lift and Move well

As a vet part of the role requirements may be required to lift and move uneven loads up to 15 kg per person from the floor to waist level.  In some cases when there is a sense of urgency, heavier loads without any assistance may be undertaken in the spur of the movement. Vets or nurses may be required to adopt awkward postures when treating larger animals to ensure the best care for the animal is taken.

Ensuring that each vet or nurse has been provided with the essential manual handling tools can reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. Adopting the belief system that “prevention is better than cure” should be at the forefront of every employers Occupational Health and Safety guidelines.

Providing equipment to assist with manual handling tasks can further help reduce the risks of injury as well.

Stretch regularly

With the demands of the job a vet needs to undertake on a daily basis including manual handling, prolonged standing and sitting requirements and adopting awkward postures , muscles tend to become short and tight. Shortened muscles reduce the range of motion and optimal muscle output.

Adopting a regular stretching protocol at work can assist with restoring muscle range of motion, reduce the likelihood of injury, reduce muscle fatigue and improve muscle function.

Setting up reminders on your computer or iphone can assist in prompting regular stretch breaks throughout the work day. Employers can provide diagrams of stretches specific for the work task requirements that employees can undertake.

Get fit for Work

Participating in regular exercise can help ensure your employees are fit for work. Functional strength training can assist with reinforcing good manual handling techniques at work and improve an employee’s ability to perform those heavier tasks with greater ease. Undertaking regular exercise at least 3-4 times a week has shown to help employees improve their physical ability but also mental health.

Eating Clean

We know if an animal is not provided with the best nutrition it’s not going to be able to function well. The same goes for humans and nutrition is the foundation of health. With the long work hours vets are required to undertake it can be easy to just to grab the fast and unhealthy food option.

When it comes to eating clean, it all comes down to preparation. Packing your lunch and snacks the night before. Shopping to store healthy food options in the fridge at work in case you don’t get a chance to make up your food the night before.

Build employee and team resilience

Engaging employees to work together in the workplace will help build a unified resilient culture. Offering employees incentives like weekly group fitness sessions where they train together and/or quarterly workshops on looking after themselves will help with improving employee relations and morale. A well rounded work-life balance should be encouraged on a regular basis.


Sandy Sher has been working as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for over 16 years with a wide variety of experience in Personal Training, Group fitness Training, Exercise Therapy and Occupational Rehabilitation. As an Exercise Physiologist, Sandy believes that through the right lifestyle choices and better work practices, we can take a proactive approach to injury management and optimal health. Email: [email protected]