Mines focused on health

Peabody giving its employees incentives to become healthier

Jackie Hall wants to lose weight, and when she does, she'll have more than just an improved self-image.

Peabody Energy is offering hefty incentives to employees and their spouses who are making an effort to be healthier.

"This is the perfect time to change," Hall said. "They're wanting us to do it, so we might as well."

Her husband, Gary, works at the Twentymile Mine. Twentymile and the Seneca Mine are owned by Peabody. The company operates sites in various states, as well as Venezuela and Australia.

Ron Spangler, manager of human resources at Twentymile, said employees who wished to participate were screened free of charge by The Memorial Hospital staff during the month of April. Interested spouses could also participate.

Each person's height, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and thyroid function were recorded. Men were additionally tested for their blood's prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, a risk indicator for prostate cancer.

Participants also filled out a questionnaire about their driving style, dietary habits and exercise routine. Together, these results make up each person's comprehensive assessment.

Based on these reports, a health coach helps each patient set goals for the next six months.

"They can devise a strategy for that employee to meet his goals," Spangler said.

Hall's objective is to lose weight and lower her cholesterol, which she plans to meet. She has already lost 12 pounds, thanks to Weight Watchers. Her coach will also check in on her monthly so she can update her health goals based on her progress.

Her husband's goal is to raise his good cholesterol level and lose the three pounds overweight he is.

In November, patients will be screened again, and their success documented.

"I'd like very much for employees to reduce significant health risk," Spangler said.

Incentives at Twentymile pushed 358 employees and spouses to participate. The mine employs 408. Seneca has 121 employees, and 70 participating workers and spouses.

Those who went through the initial round of screening at Twentymile are entered into a drawing for prizes. The mine is offering a $3,000 trip for the employee and spouse to take anywhere they please, a three-day, three-night vacation to Las Vegas valued at $1,500 and several $500 gift certificates to various businesses.

In November, those who made strides toward their goals will receive their share of about $250,000 based on their percentage of improvement.

Spangler said this program is a way for both the company and employees to benefit.

"Number one, we want to have healthy employees," he said.

"From a selfish point of view, we can reduce our medical care costs long-term."

Michelle Perry may be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craigdailypress.com

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