Worker health and wellness Safety culture

New publication calls for integrated approach to worker safety, health and well-being

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Photo: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Work, Health and Well-Being

Boston – An integrated approach that employs “a sharp focus on using policies and practices to influence working conditions” can improve worker safety, health and well-being, according to a new manual published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Research increasingly shows that compared to traditional programs, an integrated approach can lead to healthier and safer employees, as well as improved operating and financial outcomes for employers,” Glorian Sorensen, co-author and director of the school’s Center for Work, Health and Well-Being, said in a press release.

The manual offers a real-world example in the nonprofit organization Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which, after health care costs reached 10 percent of its budget, implemented a plan that included healthier food choices in its cafeteria while also tracking injury data, as well as training supervisors to better support their staff to prevent injuries.

The medical center’s results included fewer worker injuries and lower insurance costs. While the nation’s health care inflation rate rose 4.07 percent, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s health-claim costs dropped 3 percent.

The manual includes online resources and tools to help organizations initiate integration. The authors say integrated planning needs:

  • Leadership commitment
  • Participation at every level
  • Policies, programs and practices focused on positive working conditions
  • Comprehensive and collaborative strategies
  • Adherence
  • Data-driven change

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