NIOSH Guide Promotes Holistic View of Worker Health

NIOSH provides a “user-friendly” resource to improve health, safety, and environment for workers in all places of employment.


Stress levels, access to sick leave (or lack thereof), hazardous conditions, and interactions with coworkers have a ripple effect on the lives of workers, their families, and their communities. A safe workplace that supports the well-being of workers can have far-reaching benefits. That’s the premise and promise of Fundamentals of Total Worker Health Approaches: Essential Elements for Advancing Worker Safety, Health, and Well-Being , created by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The workbook provides a “user-friendly entry point” into total worker health with examples and tips, such as, “design programs with a long-term outlook to ensure sustainability. Short-term approaches have short-term value.” It also includes a self-assessment tool and resources to develop an action plan and measure progress specific to the organization. A new conceptual model—a “hierarchy of controls”—lists ways to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards in the workplace, from least effective (eg, providing personal protective equipment) to most effective (eg, physically removing the hazard).

Each workplace is unique, NIOSH says, and because the experiences of people who manage and work in them differ, the workbook is not intended as a one-size-fits-all tool. But it can be used to provide a “snapshot” of where the organization is on the path to total worker health.

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