To keep working residents healthy, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will oversee a new worksite wellness program for 450 small and medium-sized Massachusetts businesses.
Two UMass campuses – UMass Lowell and the UMass Medical School – were awarded a $500,000 two-year grant to measure the effectiveness of the program. Prof. Laura Punnett of UMass Lowell and director of the Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) will lead the data collection with businesses. Asst. Prof. Wen-Chieh Lin of UMass Medical will lead the statistical analysis of the results. Other UMass Lowell team evaluators include Robin Toof and Melissa Wall of the UMass Lowell Center for Community Research and Engagement, and CPH-NEW outreach director Suzanne Nobrega.
The training program will help businesses target health and safety changes for employees and the workplace, a hallmark of the CDC Total Worker HealthTM approach. CPH-NEW is one of four national Centers for Excellence of the Total Worker HealthTM program.
“We are very excited to be part of this program that is focused on Total Worker HealthTM, combining occupational safety and health promotion,” says Punnett. “The program evaluation is expected to generate insights into the kinds of business training and services that will strengthen the vitality of the Massachusetts workforce.”
The two campuses will evaluate the program costs, activities, employee participation and business and health impacts. The grant may be renewed twice, to cover the duration of the six-year worksite wellness effort.
Businesses will also receive a small grant to support healthy employee activities and sustain a long-term effort on workforce safety and health.
The program will give priority to small and medium size businesses, and those employing low-wage workers. If successful, it has the potential to cut health care costs, a key goal of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform act that funded this initiative through the state’s Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund.
Two organizations, Health Resources in Action and AdvancingWellness, will deliver the training that begins in Fall 2015.