Traditional occupational safety and health protection programs have primarily concentrated on ensuring that work is safe and that workers are protected from the harms that arise from work itself. TWH builds on this approach through the recognition that work is a social determinant of health. Job-related factors such as wages, hours of work, workload and stress levels, interactions with coworkers and supervisors, access to paid leave, and health-promoting workplaces all can have an important impact on the well-being of workers, their families, and their communities. Keeping workers safe is the foundation upon which Total Worker Health is achieved.
Total Worker Health® is defined 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.
In June 2011, NIOSH launched the TWH Program as an evolution of the NIOSH Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce and the NIOSH WorkLife Initiatives. The TWH approach integrates workplace interventions that protect safety and health with activities that advance the overall well-being of workers.
NIOSH has supported educational activities, funded six Centers of Excellence to conduct research and outreach, and established a network of TWH Affiliates (non-profit organizations) who share the mission and vision of the TWH Program.