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Worksite Wellness and Worker Well-Being

Most of us spend at least 40 hours a week at our workplace—and a lot of us spend even more. So it should come as no surprise that work can impact our health and wellbeing in many ways. The good news is that work can be designed to be healthier and we can take steps to improve our health as individuals and as a team using resources available in many workplaces today. Ready to take an active role in protecting and improving your own safety, health, and well-being? Ready to move your team toward a healthier place? This month we take a look at a novel, more comprehensive concept of workplace health and well-being called Total Worker Health (TWH). Total Worker Health® is a program of the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This effort promotes policies, programs, and practices that strive to protect workers from job-related safety and health hazards while also promoting injury and illness prevention efforts, with the overall goal of advancing worker well-being. You and your employer can use this approach to design safer, healthier jobs and improve your workplaces culture and climate. When it comes to health, we could all use more! So let's get started!

Take advantage of what your employer already offers:

  • Participate in onsite programs, training, screenings, health fairs, safety days, and coaching opportunities.
  • Join a health, safety or well-being committee if one exists. Voice your needs and preferences in the design of onsite programs.
  • Take advantage of healthy food options, nutrition sessions, and weight management programs.
  • Commit to using the onsite fitness facilities and exercise classes when available, or use discounts to community resources if provided.
  • Join or start a walking group before work, after work, or during breaks.
  • When participating in a work party or celebration, bring healthy food options.
  • Team up with co-workers to bring a shared, healthier meal a few days per week.
  • Complete safety surveys or health risk appraisals when offered.
  • Let your voice be heard! Complete satisfaction surveys or use the suggestion box.

Need more health and well-being opportunities at your workplace? Try these ideas:

  • Talk to your human resources department to express your wishes on more safety and health programming.
  • Volunteer for your safety committee. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a number of worker protections be in place to ensure your safety and health. From gloves and gowns, to respirators, eye protection, and safer needles, these important interventions safeguard your own health and that of your co-workers.
  • Become a champion for encouraging routine use of safe patient lifting and mobility technology to avoid all-too-common back and neck injuries.
  • Speak to your facility's safety committee or your sustainability or "green team". Find a champion in these groups and encourage them to bring additional safety, health, and well-being programs to your workplace.
  • Meet with your purchasing department, chef, or food service leadership to encourage healthy foods and beverages choices, requesting that they be available during all shifts at a reasonable cost.
  • Start a workplace well-being team. Enlist coworkers and a C-Suite champion to launch or improve your own program. Recruit members from all departments at all levels for best success. Ensure the team receives sustainable funding. Survey employees to determine which services and programs are most wanted.
  • Be prepared to answer questions on what the value on investment in worker safety, health, and well-being might look like. Include things like improved recruitment, retention, employee satisfaction, community engagement and reputation, and maintaining a sustainable workforce in your justification.

Code of Ethics for Nurses Monthly Tip

The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements guides nurses in everyday practice in all settings. Provision 6 of the Code states that "the nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe quality health care." As we strive for a Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation™, worksite wellness is essential in establishing and maintaining a moral and safe environment.

Collaborative Partner: Want to Learn More About NIOSH Total Worker Health®?

Total Worker Health moves a step beyond the approach taken by most workplace wellness programs by recognizing that employers can take an active role in protecting and improving worker safety, health, and well-being at the organizational level. Above all else, Total Worker Health (TWH) prioritizes a hazard-free work environment for all workers and applies a modern prevention approach that recognizes that job-related factors can have an important impact on the well-being of workers, their families, and their communities. Simply put, keeping workers safe and improving the nature of the work itself can significantly improve the health of workers. Comprehensive policies and programs and a commitment to a worker-centered culture can support safer, healthier outcomes and better choice-making.

NIOSH defines TWH 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.

NIOSH's Total Worker Health program provides evidence-based, practical guidance for creating or improving an organizational culture of safety, health, and well-being in today's rapidly changing workplaces. Resources include a workbook for launching your own program, promising practices and case examples from organizations that demonstrate the integrated prevention approach, and helpful tips on making the business case. Plan on attending theirSecond International Symposiumin Bethesda, Maryland during May 8-11, 2018. In the meantime, peruse their webpages, useT W H tools, and attend free, insightful webinars to get ready for your best work year ever! Free, continuing education credits are available for many health disciplines.

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The American Nurses Foundation is a separate charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation does not engage in political campaign activities or communications.

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