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NIOSH announces 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®

September 16, 2021
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Stephanie Stevens,, 202.245.0641

NIOSH announces 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has funded 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health. Four new Centers of Excellence in California, Maryland, North Carolina, and Utah will join six existing Centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, 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 expansion of the Centers and their expanding regional presence will help us learn more about the important connections between work and health, which is vital for employers to build and retain a safer and more productive workforce,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The research conducted at these Centers generates new knowledge to help us keep workers safe and healthy.”

NIOSH defines Total Worker Health (TWH) 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. The Centers are hubs for TWH-related research and practice that build the scientific evidence base necessary to develop new solutions for complex occupational safety and health problems.

NIOSH established the Centers of Excellence for TWH in 2005 via a cooperative agreement. The Centers use multidisciplinary research projects, including intervention-focused research, outreach and education, and evaluation activities to improve our understanding of which solutions work and to put them into action in workplaces across the country. The addition of four new Centers recognizes the growing need to focus on protecting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of our nation’s workforce as it changes and faces new threats and opportunities.

New NIOSH Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health

  • California Labor Laboratory (CALL): Based at the University of California, San Francisco, the goal of CALL is to describe and improve the health impacts of emergent working conditions, with a special emphasis on populations that have been economically or socially marginalized. The Center focuses on workers in the Construction, Healthcare & Social Assistance, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Extraction, Public Safety, Services, and Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities sectors. Through research, outreach, education/training, CALL addresses challenges related to alternative work arrangements, contingent forms of employment, the decreasing quality of work and the link between emergent work conditions and health outcomes.
  • Carolina Center for Total Worker Health® and Well-being: Located at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the overall mission for the Center is to help advance the NIOSH goal of protecting and advancing the safety, health, and well-being of the diverse population of workers in our nation. This center will serve essential workers and other groups placed at higher risk of negative workplace health and well-being outcomes.
  • Johns Hopkins Psychosocial Organizational, and Environmental (POE) Total Worker Health® Center in Mental Health (POE Center): The Johns Hopkins POE Center will be the first Total Worker Health Center dedicated exclusively to improving the mental health of the nation’s workforce. The overarching goal of the POE Center is to promote worker mental health and well-being through research, education, outreach, and evaluation activities that integrate the psychosocial, organizational, and environmental contexts of worker health.
  • Utah Center for Promotion of Work Equity (U-POWER): The mission of U-POWER is to create a sustainable community of practice that changes the conditions of work and advances TWH through research and outreach. U-POWER seeks to better understand the role of power in defining work conditions that may create and sustain inequity and ill health among workers and find solutions to address these challenges.

Existing Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health

  • Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE): Based at the Colorado School of Public Health, the CHWE’s mission is to advance the overall safety, health, and well-being of workers. The Center conducts TWH research, intervention, and dissemination projects performed primarily in the Rocky Mountain Region and targeting workers and workplaces at the highest risk of fatality, injury, and illness.
  • Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW): CPH-NEW is a collaboration between University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts Lowell that is dedicated to research, policy, and practice to achieve improved health, safety, and well-being for all working people. The Center continues to extend worker-centered approaches to TWH into new occupational settings and for new health challenges. It aims to better engage workers in organizational decision-making thorough the participatory approach.
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Work, Health and Well-being: The mission of this Center is to protect and promote the safety, health, and well-being of workers through integrated workplace policies, programs, and practices that foster safe and healthy conditions of work. The Center’s research targets the burden faced by workers in healthcare, warehousing, and construction industries.
  • Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest: This center is a broad regional collaboration among the University of Iowa, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Kansas Medical Center, WorkWell Kansas, and two NIOSH Total Worker Health Affiliates: the Nebraska Safety Council, and the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition. The team aims to address a variety of challenging health issues, including the disproportionately high burden of occupational injury and illness, high rates of poverty, and diminished healthcare access in the predominately rural Federal Region VII (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri).
  • Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC): Located at Oregon Health & Science University, OHWC’s mission is to conduct TWH-themed research, outreach, education, and dissemination for workforce safety, health, and well-being in the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) Region 10 (Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Idaho). The focus of the center is squarely on safe and healthy work design, TWH intervention effectiveness, and TWH translation into day-to-day practice.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Healthy Work (UIC CHW): The UIC CHW aims to identify and promote employment programs, practices, and policies that will improve worker and community health. Their vision is a future of work that promotes inclusive and equitable opportunities for healthy work, including for those in lower paid employment and precarious employment (e.g., temporary workers, workers in the gig economy, etc.).

More Information

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

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