Employees of GIW Industries Inc. celebrated their collective weight loss Friday by eating.
After a lunch of grilled chicken, vegetables and salads, employees received cash rewards based on their commitment to the company's weight-loss program and the number of pounds shed.
Executives at the Grovetown-based facility, which manufactures slurry pumps used in mining, started the program as a cost-cutting measure, GIW Industries President and CEO Dennis Zeigler said.
Last year, he noticed the company's costs for providing health insurance had been increasing steadily, and he started researching the cause.
"When we started looking at the data, we could see where those increasing health care costs could be directly linked to obesity and smoking," he said.
In May, GIW executives started a wellness program called GROW (Getting Rid of Weight at GIW) with a simulated walk to Simi Valley, Calif., which is the site of a ranch featured in the TV show The Biggest Loser .
Since then, 150 GIW employees have walked about 70,000 miles and lost about 980 pounds. The company provided participants with pedometers to keep track of their steps.
"They have taken this very seriously and I'm very proud of them," Zeigler said. "Not only have they improved their own health, many of them have taken those lessons home to their families. I know of some employees who have lost 70 pounds."
Taking off weight is only one aspect of the company's initiative to improve health. At the luncheon, officials announced that starting in January, the company will embark on a two-year program to increase safety.
Started by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Voluntary Protection Program promotes work site safety and health through a comprehensive management system, according to the OSHA Web site.
GIW must undertake a series of "best practices" measures to earn the VPP Star award.
"I've often said, 'Come in with 10 and leave with 10,' " he said. "It means, don't get hurt."
By the Numbers
Pounds lost: 980
Miles walked: 70,000
First Place: Team 9 - 154 pounds lost
Second Place: Team 19 - 112 pounds lost
Third Place: Team 10 - 78 pounds lost
Jenna Noyes (captain)
April Baggett (captain)
Kathy Sims (captain)
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