S7 Ep7: Health and wellness in the Australian coal mining industry

With special guest: Aaron Bezzina

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In this episode, I meet with my new friend Aaron Bezzina. I found Aaron’s latest research on LinkedIn and invited him on the podcast. Aaron is a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).  In 2020 Aaron commenced his PhD candidature at the University of Newcastle, researching workplace wellness initiatives’ effects on health attitudes and behaviours within the Australian resource sector. Aaron’s research interests include workplace wellness and productivity, obesity, human factors, and occupational health and safety issues.

This episode discusses Aaron’s latest publication, a review on workplace wellness programs.

Bezzina A, Ashton L, Watson T, James CL. Workplace wellness programs targeting weight outcomes in men: A scoping review. Obes Rev. 2022 Apr;23(4):e13410. doi: 10.1111/obr.13410. Epub 2022 Jan 25. PMID: 35076133.

Then we go in-depth into one of Aaron’s studies investigating health and wellness in mining. Aaron found that self-reported height and weight measures indicated that less than 20 percent (18.9%) of participants were in a healthy BMI range, while there were effectively equal numbers of overweight (40.9%) and obese (39.1%) participants. Only 3.5% of participants met the daily recommendation for vegetables (5 serves), and shift workers had a greater association with elevated BMI than non-shift workers. Poor nutrition is likely to be a key component in elevated levels of overweight and obesity within this industry, with workplace factors compounding challenges workers face in implementing health behaviour change.

Bezzina A, Austin EK, Watson T, Ashton L, James CL. Health and wellness in the Australian coal mining industry: A cross sectional analysis of baseline findings from the RESHAPE workplace wellness program. PLoS One. 2021 Jun 4;16(6):e0252802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252802. PMID: 34086829; PMCID: PMC8177661.

And finally, we discuss this study on alcohol in Australian mining that Aaron was involved in that found metalliferous mining employees engage in at-risk levels of alcohol consumption significantly higher than the national average despite workplace policies.

James CL, Tynan RJ, Bezzina AT, Rahman MM, Kelly BJ. Alcohol Consumption in the Australian Mining Industry: The Role of Workplace, Social, and Individual Factors. Workplace Health Saf. 2021 Sep;69(9):423-434. doi: 10.1177/21650799211005768. Epub 2021 Apr 24. PMID: 33896275.

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