Promising the Best Practices in Total Worker Health (TM): Workshop Summary


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

Combined with the more traditional employer occupational safety and health protection activities are newer employment-based programs to promote better health through helping workers quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or exercise more regularly. In support of these efforts, some employers have made changes in their policies and facilities to support physical activity and healthier eating, and some employers connect with community resources for health education, health fairs, and other services. From company to company, the interest in, resources for, and ability to do more for employee health and well-being vary. Employees’ interest in, needs for, and priorities for these types of programs also vary.

This diverse array of activities most typically has been planned, managed, and assessed—to the extent they exist in the workplace at all—by different, often uncoordinated departments within the business entity. Some employers have reconceptualized their safety, prevention, and promotion initiatives and attempted to bring them together into a coherent whole. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has supported this integration, defining Total Worker Health (TM) as “a strategy integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance  health and well-being.”

In May 2014, with support from NIOSH, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) organized a 1-day workshop on Total Worker Health. Rather than a review of published literature, this workshop sought input from a wide variety of on-the-ground stakeholders regarding their experiences with integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion in the workplace.