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Occupations with High Obesity Prevalence in Washington State

Categories: Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Safety and Health Data, Smoking, Total Worker Health, Transportation

If work and the workplace contribute to poor health behaviors, should employers attempt to improve those behaviors?  It likely is in the employer’s best interest to do so.

Poor health behaviors can lead to chronic disease.  Workers with chronic disease may be at higher risk for workplace injury, have more absenteeism, and diminished productivity at work. Once injured, workers with chronic diseases take a longer time to return to work.  So the best strategy would be for employers to promote healthy behaviors to prevent the occurrence of these chronic diseases.

Workplace Health Is Public Health

Categories: Economics, Total Worker Health

It’s National Public Health Week.  Those of us who work in workplace safety and health know that workplace health is an integral part of public health. While “Creating a Healthy Workplace” is one of the five themes of National Public Health Week, the role of workplace health in Public Health is not always clear to the general public. If you were asked to make the case for or provide examples of the importance of workplace safety and health in the broader context of public health, what would you say? We would like to hear how you explain to your colleagues, friends, and family that workplace safety and health IS public health.

NIOSH Takes a Stand

Categories: Manufacturing, Total Worker Health

Over the past year, NIOSH and its Total Worker HealthTM Program have been traveling the country sharing the evidence and benefits of comprehensively integrating health protection with health promotion, including workplace programs that encourage physical activity, weight loss and stress management.   Recently, we launched an internal NIOSH pilot program  to explore the use of sit and stand work stations as part of a workplace health and wellbeing initiative to reduce sedentary work in our workplace.

The pilot program was inspired by emerging research on the impact of sedentary work (Van der Ploe, Chey, et al, 2012) on employee health and by new employer initiatives that aim to decrease sedentary work, such as VHA’s Wellness Program highlighted in a recent NIOSH Science Blog post.  A sit-stand workstation allows the user to intermittently sit or stand while working on the computer, participating in a conference call, or performing other work.  The customizable workstation allows users to easily transition between a seated and standing work position multiple times throughout the day.

Joint Pain in the Workplace

Categories: Ergonomics, Manufacturing, Total Worker Health

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include a number of physical conditions affecting muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, and other soft tissues that can be caused, or exacerbated, by work.  It is estimated that MSDs account for approximately one-third of injury and illness costs in U.S. industry.  Many musculoskeletal conditions can result specifically in chronic or short-term joint pain.  One example of joint pain is arthritis, which is the leading cause of work disability, according to the CDC.  Arthritis is a condition in which the cartilage surfaces between bones wears away resulting in bone rubbing on bone.  In 2007, the annual cost of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions was reported to be $128 billion (MMWR, 2007).  This total included an estimated $47 billion in lost earnings.  The prevalence of arthritis in the U.S. is projected to increase to nearly 67 million (25% of the adult population) by the year 2030 with 25 million (9.3% of the adult population) projected to be limited in their physical activity because of the condition (Hootman and Helmick, 2006).  Working-age adults (45-64 years) will account for almost one-third of arthritis cases.  Workplace programs in the areas of safety, ergonomics, wellness, and disability management can all play a role in preventing joint pain and preserving joint health in working individuals of all ages.

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