Contributed by Jennifer Cavalari, ScD, CIH, UConn Health and Suzanne Nobrega, MS, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Download the pdf version of this page (pdf).
On average, employed US adults spend more than half of their waking lives working on engaging in related activities (BLS, 2018). Scientific evidence now shows there are occupational risk factors for sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, and other common health conditions (NIOSH, 2018). Likewise, our work has a large impact on how we maintain our health. That's why worker well-being is relevant for workers and employers, and why Total Worker Health® can set the stage for worker safety, health and well-being on and off the job.
What is "Total Worker Health?"
Total Worker Health (TWH) is an emerging program concept that takes occupational safety and health to the next level to include other workforce health concerns such as stress, chronic diseases, and working and living well into older age. Total Worker Health is not a wellness program with a new name. Keeping workers safe is the foundation upon which a TWH approach is built. TWH integrates workplace safety efforts with a broad spectrum of opportunities and interventions to improve overall worker health and well-being, as shown in Figure 1.
A TWH approach to workplace well-being focuses on making work organization and the working environment conducive to health. Worker well-being is affected by factors such as the physical and chemical work environment, psychosocial conditions in the workplace, the home and community environment, and personal health behaviors. Therefore, a Total Worker Health approach address both the conditions of work and the symptoms of poor health as part of an integrated well-being strategy.
Examples of an integrated, Total Worker Health Approach to Workplace Safety
Simple ways to introduce a Total Worker Health approach
NIOSH outlines essential elements of a Total Worker Health Program (NIOSH, 2017). The examples below outline a few simple steps to begin adopting these elements.
Design for healthier work