ANITUA Mining Services (AMS) is directing resources towards a number of employee health initiatives in a bid to reduce pressure on health facilities on Lihir Island.

In a statement, AMS said the mining industry has typically placed the most emphasis on safety rather than health when it comes to occupational health and safety.

AMS has created a new position of Health Coordinator, and has employed John Kumb, who had previously worked in a public health capacity for the Lihir Medical Centre.

AMS said it decided to employ its own health professional primarily due to the difficulties in sustaining the annual health surveillance medicals for staff at the hospital.

AMS SHEC superintendent Darren Brown said Mr Kumb played a pivotal role in the company’s health program and was a great health educator.

“He also performs basic health checks such as blood pressure and BMI checks,” he said.

“If he suspects that an employee has a medical problem he refers them to hospital for a more thorough check by a doctor.”

Mr Brown added that the health checks provided a bit of a ‘safety net’ and could catch health problems early.

The health checks program helps AMS better understand the health of its workforce and where to effectively target health education.

It also helps AMS target the health of specific individuals and assist them to live a more healthy life.

For example, the program can provide an overweight 50 year old operator of a haul truck who is at risk of having a heart attack or a stroke with dietary and exercise advice and get the hospital to provide him with medications that reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, AMS said.

The health checks program doesn’t replace the annual medicals but helps AMS cope with the long waiting lists at the hospital and are very important in looking after the health of staff, Mr Brown explained.