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Data Collection

Computer keyboardOne of the key features of a workplace health assessment will be to gather data in a way that respects the time and multiple responsibilities of employees in a worksite. Hence, the assessment process places considerable emphasis on utilizing existing data sources. Not only does this reduce response burden, but working with existing data sources to support analysis can help to build the capability of worksite staff in their own use of existing data.

For those employers, particularly small and medium sized employers, where a review of these data sources is not feasible or practical due to time or resource limitations, other aspects of a workplace health assessment such as employee health surveys or environmental assessments can provide some indication of the health needs, issues, and barriers of employees and provide a foundation from which to plan and implement the workplace health program.

The potential sources of additional data are shown in the table below. The table is structured to show the broad class of information that might be gathered to inform a workplace health assessment – indicated as row headings in bold.

The table shows (in Column 1) the indicators that might be assessed, and then (in Column 2) the data elements that might support this type of assessment.

For example, the first broad class of information will be: Workforce Background. Within this class, there are a number of employee demographic characteristics available. Column 3 indicates the strata or level at which data might be gathered. Workforce Demographic information can be used to tailor and communicate information and interventions to specific target or high-risk groups improving the effectiveness and efficiency of program resources. For example, program coordinators may want to target promotion of a worksite screening campaign to employees recommended for the screening based on age or gender.  In addition, general information on employee’s education, race, ethnicity or cultural background will help develop messages and materials that are culturally competent and are at an appropriate level of health literacy.   

Proposed Data Collection from Additional Data Sources

Data Elements
Employee Demographics Demographics
    Age (mean and distribution)
    Marital status
By worksite   By unit  
Employment Characteristics
Length at worksite (mean and distribution)
Part time/full time
By worksite   By unit  
Job characteristics/Work Schedules
Shifts (duration, time of day, swing)
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) contain information that describes the short and long-term health effects, physical and chemical properties, flammability, safety hazards, and emergency response procedures in case of overexposure of products used in industry. MSDS are available to the employer through the product’s manufacturer or supplier. This information should be use to train employees about the materials they are working with and clearly label the products to bring attention and awareness to the health and safety risks the product may pose
By worksite
By unit
Organizational Structure
Organizational chart By worksite
By unit
Worksite self-insured;
Community rated,
Percentage community rated
Eligibility and  Annual Premiums to Employees
Eligibility for coverage
    Full time
Cost of coverage (to employees)
Health Coverage Benefits  

Percent of coverage for:
Emergency care
Out-patient visits
Mental health counseling
Substance abuse treatment
Maximum out of pocket per year

Preventive Health Services
Out of pocket costs for:
   Physical exam (annual)
   Colorectal cancer screening
   Smoking cessation
   Counseling for obesity
   Counseling for diabetes
Coverage for  Bariatric Surgery
Coverage for:
    Bariatric surgery
Medication Coverage
Coverage of medications
Co-pay amount
Maximum out of pocket
Cessation Medications
Coverage of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) (and co-pays)    
Dental Coverage
Percent of coverage & annual limit of coverage for:
Dental care
Dental cleanings/exams      
Vacation Time
Vacation/Paid overtime By worksite
  By unit
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Data utilization of company services such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be useful when designing and evaluating a program. Use of an EAP – whether it is designed to distribute educational materials, as a hotline for questions and answers, or as a counseling service – can show areas in which employees have issues or special needs.

Use of such a program also demonstrates the fact that employees have stressors outside their daily work routine. Employers may be able to help resolve some of these stress issues through workplace health policies and programs (and further reduce absenteeism, health claims, etc.).
Use by service
By worksite
Fitness Facility Subsidies
Amount of subsidy By worksite
By unit
Incentives for Health Behavior
Percent of employees receiving & cost per employee of incentives/surcharges for :
Tobacco use
Participation in health programs
Attainment of health goals
By worksite   By unit  
Use of Fitness Centers

Employee usage of a company gym or workout facility may show health interests, particularly physical activity interests, and demonstrate how many employees are seeking (or conversely, how many employee are not seeking) currently offered physical activity opportunities.
The assessment can look at:
The number and type of participants
Trends in participation (e.g., length and frequency)
When the facility is busy and not
Specific classes and programs offered in the facility and their popularity
Per participant (i.e., employees actively using the service) and per employee (i.e., total number of employees for which the service was made available) costs of maintaining and staffing the facility

This information is useful in designing a program to target specific groups of employees or to better market the programs and services offered.
Percentage of employees/ and cost per employee receiving subsidy for participation in fitness centers
Other incentives
By worksite   By unit
Time Away from Work Data
Excused/unexcused absences and detail By worksite By unit
Health Promotion Budget
Line item budget By worksite By unit
Employee Wellness Committee
Number of participating employees; number of hours dedicated to committee activities By worksite By unit
Presence or absence of policies such as telecommuting, flexible work hours/schedules, no tobacco use, healthy foods at meetings
Company policy handbook By worksite

A summary compilation of this additional data often provides a valuable descriptive summary that can assist in the design or refinement of a broader workplace health program.


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