Safety and OSHA News

Proven process not being used in workplace health and wellbeing programs

A new report from the National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute says many employers aren’t using a proven process to get worker wellbeing right. 

The report, A Systems Approach to Worker Health and Wellbeing, suggests employers use an approach similar to a safety management system (SMS).

Worker wellbeing is where workplace safety and wellness programs intersect. An example is the Total Worker Health initiative from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Total Worker Health is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.

While systemic approaches (such as SMS) are used for workplace safety programs, they generally aren’t used for combined safety and personal health programs.

An example is the “Plan Do Check Act” (PDCA) model. The steps would include:

  • Plan: obtain workforce buy-in, agree on a data collection process, guarantee anonymity
  • Do: conduct a worker survey and biometric readings
  • Check: create a risk map of the most prevalent health behaviors and conditions in workforce, and
  • Act: create plans to address the highest risks and determine metrics to track.

Data from worker surveys and biometric screenings will reveal:

  • nutrition habits
  • physical activity
  • number of hours of sleep
  • tobacco use
  • height, weight and body mass index
  • blood pressure, and
  • cholesterol level.

This systems- and risk-based approach to worker wellbeing is based on “what gets measured gets managed.”

“There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to worker wellbeing,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute. “If the biggest risk to an organization is employees being overweight, it might want to focus efforts on physical fitness. Or, if the highest risk for an organization is deemed to be worker stress, it might want to look at implementing a worker assistance program.”

The Campbell Institute and researchers at NIOSH Total Worker Health are collaborating to advance this project. The object is to involve Campbell Institute members sites in a TWH intervention using a risk-based needs-assessment/gap analysis performed by NIOSH and Institute researchers.

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