IOSH urges employers to get on their bikes and embrace cycle to work benefits

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged employers to encourage their staff to cycle to work on a regular basis to make sure the annual ‘Cycle to Work Day’ is not just a one-off.

Cycle to Work Day, which is taking place today (15 August), encourages employees to try cycle commuting and aims to get employers to consider what benefits a cycle to work scheme could have.

It is organised by cycle-to-work provider Cyclescheme and bicycle brands Cannondale and Specialized, and aims to get workers to try cycling in a relaxed and fun environment. Riders are encouraged to record the distance they have cycled by “pledging” their mileage on the Cycle to Work Day website.

Although Cycle to Work Day is an annual event, IOSH is encouraging employers to promote cycling to work as a healthy lifestyle choice and a boost to wellbeing and productivity.

Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety at IOSH, said: “Cycle to Work Day is a great initiative as it really highlights the benefits of physical activity for everyone.

“As well as the clear health benefits, physical activity, such as riding a bike, releases endorphins which help people feel good about themselves. So there are clear wellbeing benefits as well. Why wouldn’t you want that feel good factor to start the day?

“This leads to increased productivity, so there are some real benefits for organisations as well as individuals. What organisation wouldn’t want healthy, motivated and productive staff?”

According to a survey by insurer VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, workers who did not cycle regularly lost on average, six additional days per year of productive working time due to ill-health related absence and presenteeism.

However, the study revealed that 30% of employers did not provide bicycle storage facilities and 32% did not have locker or shower access.

Shaun Subel, director of corporate wellbeing strategy at VitalityHealth, said: “Employees who make healthier lifestyle choices, such as cycling, exhibit higher levels of work engagement and lower levels of stress.

“As a result, effective workplace health and wellbeing solutions, such as cycle to work schemes, can deliver tangible improvements in employee engagement and productivity, and make a significant impact on an organisation’s bottom line.”

In April, research by the British Lung Foundation found that more than a quarter of people exercised only once a week, while a third said they would not be able to run a mile “if their life depended on it”.

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