Wednesday | 05 November, 2008 | 8:56 am

Partners in health

By Liz Sommerville

November 2008 - ArcelorMittal, Chicago, has a health and wellness program that focuses not only on engaging its employees but also their families, friends and the surrounding community. The company especially prides itself on its close partnership with the American Heart Association.

Working together
For the past five years, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor has been involved with the AHA's Heart Walk in northwest Indiana. The company's Indiana Harbor facility also began participating three years ago to support the AHA's fight against heart disease and stroke. "This effort creates a greater awareness of a heart-healthy lifestyle and improves the overall wellness of our company," says Madhu Ranade, general manager of Burns Harbor and chair of the 2007 Heart Walk in northwest Indiana. Last year's northwest Indiana Heart Walk raised more than $800,000, with $222,256 of that raised by ArcelorMittal USA employees, making it one of the top 12 Heart Walks in the country last year. More than 200 ArcelorMittal employees walked in the event.

The company is a national sponsor of the AHA's Start fitness awareness campaign to actively promote healthy lifestyles. As part of the program, ArcelorMittal employees commit to walking for at least 30 minutes each day.

ArcelorMittal also funds the creation and distribution of wellness educational materials to disadvantaged, minority and youth populations. It also provides CPR tools and resources to local fire stations and hospitals. "Through our financial support, the AHA has disseminated materials through northwest Indiana's schools, community organizations and major employers to educate individuals on the importance of healthy eating, exercise and regular medical assessments," says Ranade.

Healthy living
ArcelorMittal decided to partner with the AHA to help its employees and their families better understand heart disease and how to fight it. "Heart diseases affect many of our employees and their families," says Ranade. "Educating them and promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle strengthens our work force. The AHA provides numerous resources and programs that align with our wellness efforts."

Each year, ArcelorMittal holds a Global Health and Safety Day to reinforce and remind its employees of the significance health and safety have both on and off the job. The theme of the event is Leading by Example, which provides a framework for daylong activities focused on assessing past health and safety performance and introducing new programs and policies.

Ranade says the company's next step is to emulate local programs, like the AHA partnership, and ensure that employees at every ArcelorMittal location are engaging in a wellness program. It plans to implement a more formal, companywide wellness program in the near future.

"Our five-year partnership with the AHA has positively impacted productivity, the well-being of our employees and their families, and health care costs by increasing involvement in our wellness program," he says. MM

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