The physical work environment provides opportunities for employees to practice healthy behaviors, such as physical activity, or can discourage unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco products. Employers can assess how well their work sites enable employee health by using environmental audit tools to assess the physical features of the work place. When you are selecting an environmental audit tool, recognize that they may be narrow or broad, and you can customize an audit tool to meet your needs. Additionally, you can review other local work site programs and buildings for ideas on how to improve your facility.
Features that may be audited include the following:
- Availability of nutritious foods in vending machines and cafeterias
- Availability of employee break rooms to store and prepare nutritious foods from home
- Availability of tobacco- or smoke-free areas
- "Walkability" of the work place, such as sidewalks between buildings and stairs within buildings
- Availability of structures such as fitness centers, shower facilities, multi-purpose paths, and bicycle racks, that support physical activity
- Availability of lactation rooms that support new mothers who continue to breast feed after returning to work
The following are examples of environmental audit tools that can be used to assess your physical work environment. These examples are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather give workforce health promotion planners a place to start.
Checklist of Health Promotion Environments at Worksites (CHEW)
The CHEW is an observational measure of environments in and around work sites that may affect health behaviors. Links to the survey, administration procedures, and scoring methods are provided.
Designing Healthier Environments at Work Assessment Tool
This online assessment was developed to help you determine ways to create a healthier work site environment — one that supports employees in moving more, eating better, and leading a tobacco-free lifestyle. It is presented by the Michigan Department of Community Health's Cardiovascular Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity Section.
Heart Check — Assessing Worksite Support for a Healthy Lifestyle [PDF-213k]
A survey provided by the New York State Department of Health "Healthy Heart Program" that assesses how well a work site environment supports a variety of health behaviors.
Worksite Wellness Questionnaire [PDF-854k]
An example of a tool that assesses the work site environment is available in this publication from Partnership for Prevention.