NIOSH Announces Six National Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®

September 13, 2016
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Stephanie Stevens (202) 245-0641

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has funded six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®. Two new Centers of Excellence in Colorado and Illinois will join four existing Centers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Oregon. The Centers of Excellence represent the extramural portfolio of Total Worker Health (TWH) research funded by NIOSH to further its mission of protecting and advancing the safety, health, and well-being of the diverse population of workers in our nation.

“The Center’s regional presence and expertise play an important role in conducting novel research on the important connections between work and health, so vital in a rapidly changing economy,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “New patterns of employment and work restructuring impact the safety and health of workers and we look forward to working to improve safety interventions in construction, small business, and healthcare, among others.”

NIOSH defines Total Worker Health as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. It advocates for and includes the control of hazards and exposures, the organization of work, compensation and benefits, work-life integration, and a health-supporting built environment.

The TWH approach always prioritizes a hazard-free work environment that protects the safety and health of all workers. The six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health include:

The Center for Work, Health, & Well-being in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Healthexternal icon aims to achieve optimal worker safety and health and employer outcomes through improved conditions of work. It will focus on expanding the evidence base for Total Worker Health by conducting research on system level approaches, developing and implementing best practices, assessing workplace policies, and building the capacity of trained professionals and organizations to carry out this work. The Center will place emphasis on workers in healthcare and construction industries.

The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW)external icon is a joint interdisciplinary initiative of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Connecticut. The overall goal of CPH-NEW is to improve worker health through a highly participatory process involving front-line employees and top-down organizational support, and to study and disseminate information on such participatory models. The Center will concentrate on healthcare workers and correctional officers.

The Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwestexternal icon (formerly known as the Healthier Workforce Center of Excellence) at the University of Iowa aims to protect and preserve worker safety and health through knowledge generation and dissemination of evidence-based TWH practices. The Center will continue its focus on small enterprises and expands by partnering with neighboring states of Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. A target of this Center includes developing integrated approaches that address the precarious nature of work in the construction industry.

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Centerexternal icon at the Oregon Health and Science University aims to evaluate the concept of Total Worker Health through research on intervention effectiveness and to determine its impact on workforce and population safety and health. The Center will achieve this using team-based and technology-based interventions as well as interventions that focus on improved social support and reduced job stress. The Center will give emphasis to truck drivers and sedentary work.

The Rocky Mountain Center for Total Worker Health at the University of Colorado aims to advance the overall health and well-being of workers in the U.S. Mountain Region by establishing innovative workplace programs to benefit both workers and employers, testing theoretical models, and highlighting workers in small enterprises and high-risk industries.

The University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Center for Healthy Work aims to improve the health of the rapidly growing number of vulnerable workers in the U.S., a worker population that experiences increased adverse health and safety outcomes. Factors that make workers more vulnerable include social dynamics such as age, race, class, and gender; economic trends, such as growth of the temporary workforce; and organizational factors, such as business size. The Center will give emphasis to workers with precarious job conditions.

NIOSH established the extramural research Centers of Excellence in 2005. The addition of two new Centers marks the growing need to focus on protecting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of our nation’s workforce.

For more information about Total Worker Health, visit The Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health can be found here: icon.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Page last reviewed: September 13, 2016