TOTAL WORKER HEALTH
The NIOSH WorkLife Program is evolving to address a wider range of factors that influence workers’ total health. NIOSH and our partners recognize that a multitude of work and non-work related factors influence employees’ safety, health, ability to work, and well-being in every aspect of their lives. Employer concern about the effects of diminished employee health on productivity, absenteeism, and rising health care costs is growing. Therefore, employers are increasingly receptive to a growing body of evidence which provides rationale for addressing health promotion in conjunction with organizational efforts to protect workers and create safe and healthful workplaces. The WorkLife Program is changing its name to Total Worker Health® to better convey this more comprehensive approach to workplace prevention. As part of this evolution, NIOSH will begin building an intramural program focused on protecting and promoting Total Worker Health® through research, interventions, partnerships, and capacity building to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce.
Beginning with Steps to a Healthier US Workforce and continuing with the WorkLife Program, NIOSH has promoted the integration of programs designed to protect worker health and safety on the job with health promotion and wellness programs in order to more effectively protect, improve, and promote both organizational and individual health and well-being. (For additional details about the origin and history of the Program, please see “History of NIOSH WorkLife Program” on the Total Worker Health® Website). The program has emphasized the interplay of workplace conditions (i.e., the organization of work, policies, and management strategies) in the safety, health, and engagement of workers and for the past five years, NIOSH has funded and partnered with three national WorkLife Centers of Excellence to further explore and research the benefits of integrated approaches to employee health. Preliminary results indicate the value of this approach and the need for additional comprehensive research.
As the Program takes a broader approach to prevention and the intramural Total Worker Health® program evolves, NIOSH will continue to provide leadership and guidance in promoting scientific research, policy, and practices that: (a) recognize the full range of factors affecting employee health and (b) coordinate workplace prevention, health protection, health promotion and related programs to improve the safety, health, and well-being of workers and their families. The Program will continue its relationships with the WorkLife Centers and other partners in efforts that seek to create environments, practices, and policies that optimize Total Worker Health®. Please stay tuned to the Total Worker Health® website and subscribe to regular updates to stay abreast of program developments.