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NIOSH’s “Total Worker Health” promotes workplace safety and a healthier workforce

Evidence shows work environment and overall health are inextricably linked

Posted June 9, 2012

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is celebrating the first anniversary of “Total Worker Health” (TWH), an occupational health and safety program that evolved from the NIOSH “Steps to a Healthier Workforce” and “WorkLife Initiatives.” TWH integrates workplace safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance worker health and well-being.

According to NIOSH, there is great interest in integrated approaches to worker health and safety. An increasing amount of evidence shows that the work environment and the overall health of the workers within it are inextricably linked. Disease and injury reduce quality of life, opportunities, and income, whether they are caused or worsened by the work environment, non-work activities, or lifestyle. Further, the collective burden on employers of diminished workforce health and ability adversely affects recruitment, retention, productivity, and ultimately, economic viability.

NIOSH claims the interest in integrated approaches increases its responsibility for research and assistance to identify and address factors in the workplace that may put workers at risk of illness or injury. Risk factors on the job and off the job can have synergistic effects, says NIOSH, so it makes sense to looks at these factors holistically for more effective results. Additionally, it also builds on the value of the workplace as a forum for informing and educating many people at one time, and furthering employers' and employees' joint investment in good health.

Finally, NIOSH believes that integrating the protection of worker health and safety with evidence-based health promotion will be a key strategy for building a strong economy on the foundation of safe jobs and healthy workers.

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