About the Center
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed the Worklife Initiative which has been the focus of two national conferences and the development of an emerging center of excellence program which now includes two fully funded centers (The University of Iowa and University of Massachusetts at Lowell) and one partially funded center (Harvard University). The center at The University of Iowa was built upon extensive investigator experience in occupational health, ergonomics, injury prevention, preventive medicine, and health promotion. The Worklife Initiative has arisen from: 1) efforts on the part of major employers to integrate employee health programs which have documented improved employee participation, health outcomes and reduced costs (IOM, 2205); and 2) research documenting improved health outcomes when health promotion and health protection programs are integrated (Chambers and Kerner, 2007; Glaskow and Emmons, 2007; Mittman, 2007; Reuben, 2005; Sorenson and Barbeau, 2004).
The NIOSH Worklife Initiative (WLI) Vision is:
- Safe and healthier workers in workplaces that protect, sustain, and promote health and wellbeing;
- The WLI envisions workplaces that are free of recognized harzards, with health-promoting and sustainable policies, programs, and practices; and employees with ready access to effective programs and serviced that protest their health, safety and wellbeing.
The NIOSH WLI Center for Excellence program organized and executed a Worklife Workshop held at the Harvard School of Public Health on February 11-12, 2008. The Consensus Statement for Worklife National Priorities was generated from this workshop and is being published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine as a workshop summary.
The consensus statement includes several policy recommendations, one of which was that each center should seek to engage their state/regional stakeholders through fully integrated conferences to make state stakeholders and constituents aware of the NIOSH WLI Center Program, corporate and evidence-based findings that support the development of the WLI initiative, and their support for and participation in further development of the SLI in their state, region and nationally. As a result, the University of Iowa, Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence held a conference on October 22, 2008: A Healthier Workforce: Perspectives of Iowa and the Nation.
Following the conference, the External Advisory Board representatives met to discuss the future direction of the center. The Summary of the Recommendations included the need for the center to expand the outreach initiatives and focus on small employers.