NIOSH Sets Agenda for Total Worker Health

Published May 4, 2016

​In late April, NIOSH launched a ten-year research agenda to advance Total Worker Health (TWH), an agency initiative that seeks to integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention. The National Total Worker Health Agenda is geared toward individuals interested in worker safety and health including policymakers, occupational health and safety practitioners, employers and labor organizations, researchers, healthcare providers, and educators.

A draft version of the agenda released in 2014 elicited feedback from stakeholders that traditional workplace wellness programs too often emphasize the effects of individual behaviors on health without addressing the risks of the work itself, according to NIOSH. The TWH agenda recommends integrating all organizational policies, programs, and practices that contribute to worker safety, health, and well-being.

The agenda identifies strategic goals for TWH across four categories: research, practice, policy, and capacity-building. The agency’s policy goals for TWH include promoting joint efforts between employers and workers, and exploring ways to incorporate TWH activities into healthcare, health insurance, and workers’ compensation. Among the agency’s goals for building capacity is to develop core competencies for all TWH programs in workplaces.

For more information, view the National Total Worker Health Agenda (2016–2026) on the NIOSH website.