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The NIOSH WorkLife Initiative


The NIOSH WorkLife Initiative. Jane Roemer, J.D. The Corporate Environment: Wellness Initiatives ... Corporate mergers, restructuring, and pressures on the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The NIOSH WorkLife Initiative

The NIOSH WorkLife Initiative
  • Jane Roemer, J.D.
  • The Corporate Environment Wellness Initiatives
  • The NIOSH WorkLife Initiative
  • June 24, 2008

The WorkLife Initiative
  • Was developed by NIOSH--the National Institute
    for Occupational Safety and Health--and
    interested partners
  • Seeks to understand and promote work environments
    and policies that result in healthier, more
    productive workers with reduced disease and
    injury and lower health care needs and costs

The Traditional NIOSH Approach
  • Has been to address occupational exposures and
    hazardous conditions arising at the workplace
  • Considerable success workers are much less
    likely to become sick or injured on the job than
    when NIOSH was created in 1970

The Case for Change
  • However, narrow focus on workplace risks alone is
    no longer sufficient
  • Erosion in distinction between illness and injury
    from work and non-work risks
  • Overall health of workers affected by factors
    both inside and outside the workplace stress,
    diet, exercise, smoking, pre-existing conditions,
    chronic illness

The Case for Change
  • Workplace conditions can have an impact on a
    persons health and well-being outside of work
  • Activities, conditions, and behaviors off the job
    can influence health, productivity, and abilities
    at work

Trends Prompting a New Approach
  • Aging workforce employers recognizing need to
    maintain worker health and well-being to increase
    work longevity
  • Increase in chronic diseases including
    depression, heart disease, and chronic pulmonary
    disease among workers and recognition of the
    relationship between these conditions and work

Trends Prompting a New Approach
  • Employers concerned about productivity,
    absenteeism, presenteeism
  • Health insurance costs outpacing wage and profit
    growth, employers cutting back on health
    benefits, and families paying more for health

Trends Prompting a New Approach
  • Corporate mergers, restructuring, and pressures
    on the economy result in job insecurity,
    increased work hours, greater job
    responsibilities, and added health risks
  • Productivity losses related to personal and
    family health problems cost US employers an
    average of 1,685 per employee per year, or
    225.8 billion total annually

The WorkLife Initiative
  • Launched by NIOSH in 2005 to lead efforts to
    explore the benefits and limits of integrative
    occupational health protection and health
    promotion programs for improving worker health
    and well-being
  • Reflects a growing appreciation of the
    interaction between work-based and non-work-based
    factors on health

The WorkLife Initiative
  • Looks at worker health and well-being in a more
    comprehensive way, taking into account both the
    work environment and individual risks,
    conditions, and behaviors
  • The worksite provides an opportunity to address
    both work-related risks and behavioral risks

Why Coordinate Occupational Safety and Health
with Health Promotion?
  • Growing evidence that integrative approaches to
    workplace and worker health are more effective
    than each program separately
  • World Health Organization guidelines support the
    view that comprehensive approaches to work and
    health should be integral to management practices

Why Coordinate Occupational Safety and Health
with Health Promotion?
  • Workers at highest risk for exposure to
    work-related hazards are often those most likely
    to engage in risk-related behaviors off the job
  • Studies show integrating OSH with HP may increase
    HP program participation and effectiveness for
    high-risk workers

Occupational Safety and Health vs. Health
  • Longstanding separation in the public health and
    employment communities between those who address
    control of work-related risks and those who focus
    on individual and behavioral risk reduction
  • Advancing knowledge and practice in workplace
    health protection and health promotion involves
    building bridges between the two communities

Aims of the WorkLife Initiative
  • Encourage and support rigorous evaluation of
    integrative approaches to work and health
  • Identify proven and promising programs, policies,
    and practices and promote adoption

Aims of the WorkLife Initiative
  • Motivate trans-disciplinary collaboration among
    investigators focused on sustaining and improving
    the health of people who work
  • Overcome the traditional separation of the
    occupational health and health promotion
    professional communities

Implementation Supporting Research
  • Establishing academic Centers of Excellence
    UIowa UMass-Lowell/UConn Harvard U
  • Trans-disciplinary collaboration and worksite
    pilot programs
  • Developing a WorkLife research agenda based on
    industry sectors

Implementation Disseminating Information
  • 2007 WorkLife Symposium
  • Communicating known best practices
  • Engaging in productive partnerships with
    employers, employee groups, other government
    agencies, and non-governmental organizations

Integrative Approaches to Work and Health Benefit
the Disability Workforce
  • Better work-based programs to sustain and improve
    workplace and worker health benefit all workers
  • Integrative approaches tend to improve work
    organization and the physical work environment in
    ways that benefit disabled workers and encourage
    appropriate job accommodation

Health Disparities
  • Disease and injury from work-related and
    non-work-related exposures are unevenly
    distributed throughout the workforce
  • More comprehensive approaches to work and health
    help fight health disparities
  • The WorkLife Initiative seeks to better
    understand how workplace interventions reduce
    risk of various health outcomes across the

  • The WorkLife Initiative creates an opportunity
    for the occupational safety and health community
    and the health promotion community to work
    together to develop and implement workplace
    programs, policies, and practices that prevent
    workplace illness and injury, and sustain and
    promote healthto assure the health of the US

Additional Information
NIOSH WorkLife Initiative Topic
Page NIOSH Web