NIOSH Initiative Addresses 21st Century Skilled Workforce

The Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative promotes basic skills, including the ability to recognize how to prevent injury and illness, and what the agency calls healthy work.

NIOSH has launched the Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative, with Director Dr. John Howard saying the goal is to ensure the 21st century workforce is ready for the global economy's challenges and able to prevent injuries and illnesses. The initiative promotes basic skills and what the agency calls healthy work.

It will build on past skills training efforts by NIOSH, including the NIOSH Youth@Work-Talking Safety curriculum, and will promote core competencies. The new initiative includes worksite wellness and injury prevention programs.

"The line between employment and private life has blurred. Hazards at work can lead to risks in personal and community life, and conditions that affect people at home—stress, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and others—spill over into work hours. This results in higher healthcare costs, increased turnover, lower productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism," the agency's description of hte initiative notes. "A recent Harvard study estimates that worksite programs that successfully address health impacts that straddle the tenuous work/life boundary could achieve a $3.00 to $1.00 return on investment. As more businesses explore the social and economic benefits of programs that integrate occupational safety and health protection and health promotion (such as the NIOSH Total Worker Health Program), the Safe, Skilled, Ready Workforce Initiative will help prepare everyone in the workforce -- whether employee or employer -- to be successful participants in these programs."

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