Principal Investigator: Cora Roelofs, Sc.D.

Research Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, UMass Lowell

Project Period: 2022-2025

This project develops and assesses a training intervention to enhance employers’ ability to protect workers’ health, safety and well-being in the face of emergencies and disasters impacting the workplace. Increasingly, crises such as severe weather events and infectious disease outbreaks are placing complex burdens on both employers’ operations and worker well-being. Emergency preparedness in the workplace has traditionally focused on immediate life safety and business continuity. This study expands emergency preparedness to include domains related to Total Worker Health® Employer Crisis Preparedness (TWH-ECP), such as human resources policies related to leave, mitigation of risk through toxics use reduction, and personal preparedness training through wellness education.

In a previous pilot study, we surveyed human resources professionals, from small- and medium-sized employers, to assess TWH-ECP. For this study, we will extend this work to refine the survey, and then develop and evaluate a training program tailored to the needs of human resources professionals.

Together with our key partners, including the Northeast Human Resources Association, we will enroll human resources professionals in one of two interventions: either an on-line self-directed course, or a one-year coached community of practice cohort. Progress in achieving preparedness in both groups will be evaluated and compared.

This two-year study is an exciting opportunity to integrate Total Worker Health® (TWH) approaches into business planning and human resources management, and to develop new tools and resources for crisis preparedness.

Specific Aims:

  1. Evaluate and improve the model, index, training and survey tools developed in the pilot study.
  2. Train HR and other key personnel using two modes – individual online learning, and one-year professional cohort learning.
  3. Evaluate training interventions to assess their potential effectiveness.
  4. Assess factors that contribute to or inhibit the development and short-term sustainability of organizational change in crisis preparedness.