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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
TROY — A proposal to buy a work-station treadmill to help interested Miami County 911 center telecommunicators get more physical activity during 10- to 12-hour shifts sparked discussions on employee wellness, liability and other issues.
In the end, the county Communication Center Board of Directors agreed Nov. 15 to recommend the purchase to the county commissioners if an outside funding source, such as a foundation, would pay for the treadmill. A LifeSpan Treadmill suggested by center Director Jeff Busch was listed at $1,399.
The cost of the treadmill was not a key issue in discussions.
Busch told the county commissioners during a presentation Nov. 15 that he thought the work-station treadmill would help employees who wanted to use it offset some of the effects of the sedentary nature of the telecommunicator job by allowing them to move more. The treadmill, which is designed to be quiet, also could help with stress, he said.
The unit would be placed at one of the dispatch center's work-stations and could be used by any employee who desired.
He emphasized the treadmill would be in a walking mode so that employees could answer the phone or radio. The dispatch area, which underwent renovation during the past year, includes desks that allow standing, if desired. Some employees already walk laps around work sessions during slow times and walk outside during breaks.
Busch said he knows of two dispatch centers in the state using the treadmills.
"After looking at the research, it is believed that adding work session exercise equipment would benefit employees by: helping them become healthier and more active, decreasing the number of sick days, increasing life expectancy, and decreasing the risk of several medical problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity," Busch said in his request.
"I understand the concept, but there are safety issues I have from it," said Commissioner John "Bud" O'Brien. Commission President Jack Evans said he was concerned about liability to the county if someone would get hurt.
Concerns also were aired over buying one unit for the telecommunicators and then having other employees in public sector jobs asking for access to a treadmill unit.
Sheriff Dave Duchak, a center board member, said he had not heard of the work-station treadmills. He pointed out that the sheriff's office training center exercise equipment has been bought using grant or foundation dollars instead of taxpayer money.
"I don't have an issue with it if it is OK with CORSA (County Risk Sharing Authority). I would like to see it funded by outside money ... that helps take away the 'me too' factor," Duchak said.
"I agree the concept is great," said Matt Simmons, Troy's fire chief and a board member. "But then you get into who buys them and for who all."
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