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Healthy Work Place

Nordic Construction Promotes Psychological Health

STEPPING UP: Morning Stretch is required of all Nordic Construction Ltd. employees. Photo: Karin Kovlasky

Damien HueSing of Wailuku injured his back in July while pulling out a 2 x 4 wooden plank at the Maui Lani Medical Center project work site. Because his job with Nordic Construction Ltd. required manual labor, he was unable to work until his back healed. Fortunately, Nordic continued to pay him partial salary, but under one condition: HueSing had to complete a community service project. He volunteered at the thrift store of Ka Lima O Maui, a nonprofit charitable organization, processing donated items for sale.

Community involvement is just one criterion in the Hawaii Psychological Association's Healthy Workplace Award, which recognizes workplaces that promote psychological health. Nordic Construction, a local contractor with 120 employees, earned the award in the small-business category in 2002. Only five out of the 25 organizations that applied that year were selected.

The construction company also offers an award-winning safety program that has been recognized numerous times by national organizations. STEPS (Skills Training Encourages Performance Safety) was developed by employees to help promote the importance of safety within the workplace. Projects are designed to avoid injuries, and employees plan their own schedules to lessen stress. The company requires all workers to participate in Morning Stretch at 7 a.m. daily. "It's just to get everybody moving, and it promotes good health," explains Ken Spence, vice president and chief financial officer of Nordic Construction Ltd.

Nordic is not completely accident-proof, but, according to Spence, everybody benefits from the company's program for injured workers. "Not only are the workers happy, but their families are happy as well," he says.

HueSing's wife, Kalei, is overjoyed with the arrangement. "It was a shock to me that a company does such a thing," she says. "Honestly, it was like a blessing that my husband was able to work at a nonprofit organization."

Damien HueSing says it is simply better and more productive than just staying at home.

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Hawaii Business,October