The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has changed the name of its WorkLife Program to Total Worker Health™. The Institute explains the name change is the result of a growing recognition among NIOSH and its partners 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.
The shift also reflects growing employer concern about the effects of diminished employee health on productivity, absenteeism, and rising health care costs. Employers are therefore more receptive to a growing body of evidence that provides a rationale for addressing health promotion in conjunction with organizational efforts to protect workers. The new name, Total Worker Health, ™ better conveys this more comprehensive approach to workplace convention.
NIOSH defines Total Worker Health™ as a comprehensive organizational strategy that integrates traditional occupational safety and health protection efforts with health promotion and other workplace activities to prevent illness and injury, regardless of cause, so that all workers have opportunities to achieve optimal levels of health and well-being.
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 with health promotion and wellness programs in order to promote both organizational and individual health and well-being. 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. Extramurally, NIOSH has funded and partnered with three national WorkLife Centers of Excellence (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/TWH/centers.html
) to explore the benefits of integrated approaches to employee health.
As part of the evolution to a more comprehensive approach, NIOSH will begin building an intramural program to connect related work within NIOSH; elucidate and communicate current knowledge, successful approaches, and challenges; and promote the concepts and practices of total worker health to NIOSH partners and stakeholders.