TOTAL WORKER HEALTH
Formerly WorkLife Initiative, pages currently under revision.
Total Worker Health™ is a strategy integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being.
The protection, preservation, and improvement of the health and well-being of all people who work are goals shared by workers, their families, and employers. Today, more than ever, there is increasing evidence that the work environment and the overall health, safety and well-being of the workers within it are strongly connected. Diminished health and injury, whether caused by work or resulting from non-work activities, reduces quality of life, opportunity, and income for workers and those dependent upon them. Conversely, workplaces with low risk of injury and enhanced opportunities for the total health of workers can lead to a vibrant, engaged and highly performing workforce.
The "Issues Relevant to Total Worker Health™" graphic below is an at-a-glance visual of issues relevant to integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion. The lists below are not meant to be exhaustive, but, rather they illustrate the breadth of issues related to work that have the potential to impact health and should be considered as strategies are developed for integration of health protection and health promotion activities.
NIOSH conducts research on the integration of health protection and health promotion through both internal and external avenues. Extramurally, NIOSH funds three WorkLife Centers of Excellence dedicated to ground-breaking research, translation and best practices of integrative approaches to protecting and promoting health in the workplace. An intramural program will connect related work within NIOSH; elucidate and communicate current knowledge, successful approaches, and challenges; and promote the concepts and practices of total worker health to our partners and stakeholders.
Interventions consistent with TWH™ include but are not limited to:
- Provision of mandated respiratory protection programs that simultaneously and comprehensively address and provide supports for tobacco cessation.
- Integrated ergonomic consultations that also discuss joint health and arthritis prevention and management strategies.
- Regularly scheduled, joint meetings of safety, occupational health and health promotion leadership and staff to include combining the functions of safety, health, and/or sustainability committees into one entity, either intermittently or permanently.
- Development of stress management efforts that first seek to diminish workplace stressors, and only then work on building worker resiliency.
- Implementation of training and prevention programs that counter hazards and risks faced by workers both on and off the job. Topics could include falls prevention, motor vehicle safety, first aid, hearing conservation, stretching/ flexibility, back safety/ lifting safety, eye protection, safer work with chemicals, and weight management.
- Provision of onsite, comprehensive workplace screenings for work and non-work related health risks.
- Exploration of models that combine occupational health services with workplace primary care.
- Full integration of: traditional safety programs, occupational health clinics, behavioral health, health promotion programs, coaching, EAP, nutrition, disability and workers compensation through strategic alignment, joint reporting structures or common funding streams.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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