U.S. employers are increasingly interested in health promotion for their workers, NIOSH says.

NIOSH WorkLife Becomes Total Worker Health

The agency said its WorkLife Program is evolving this month "to address a wider range of factors that influence workers' total health."

NIOSH announced that its WorkLife Program is being transformed and renamed Total Worker Health™ "to address a wider range of factors that influence workers' total health." NIOSH added in its announcement that it and its partners "recognize 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. Employer concern about the effects of diminished employee health on productivity, absenteeism, and rising health care costs is growing. Therefore, employers are increasingly receptive to a growing body of evidence which provides rationale for addressing health promotion in conjunction with organizational efforts to protect workers and create safe and healthful workplaces."

The name Total Worker Health is better to convey this more comprehensive approach, the agendy said, adding that it "will begin building an intramural program focused on protecting and promoting Total Worker Health through research, interventions, partnerships, and capacity building to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce."

This is the latest step on a path that started with Steps to a Healthier US Workforce and then the WorkLife Program, so NIOSH has been working on health promotion for some time. It funded and partnered with three national WorkLife Centers of Excellence to study integrated approaches to employee health and says while it does work, additional, comprehensive research is needed.

"The promise of a strong American economy depends upon an able, productive workforce. The health risks and challenges of today's workers have never been starker," the announcement states. "The American workforce is rapidly aging and is increasingly burdened by epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. Middle-aged and young workers are facing earlier onset of chronic health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. NIOSH believes that the safest and healthiest worker only evolves in an atmosphere where management is fully engaged in the wellbeing of its staff, where the environment is hazard-free and supportive, and where workplace policies and interventions encourage healthier choices -- simply put, where the total health of the worker, in the broadest possible sense, is optimized."

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