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Occupational Health and Safety

Why Employers Care

Occupational Health and Safety is the identification, prevention and control of health and safety hazards at the workplace. Despite increasing focus on the value of integrating workplace health and safety with heath improvement and workforce well-being, many organizations still operate these areas in silos. As a result, opportunities for cost savings, health improvement, and reduced injury and absence are missed. Moreover, interest in health and safety measures as indicators of corporate value is gaining traction among thought leaders. By integrating strategy, program operations and measurement, HR/Benefits and Health & Safety staff are better positioned to provide useful metrics.

For example, looking at the effect of BMI on medical and pharmacy cost alone would miss the impact of obesity on workers' compensation, disability and incidental absence as shown below. Fatigue, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking, hearing loss and poor vision have similarly been shown to impact worker productivity and safety. Conversely, good health is associated with decreased occupational injury rates.

What Can Employers Do?

To integrate wellness and occupational health & safety, employers will need to follow multiple steps:

  1. Build the business case,
  2. Engage senior leaders,
  3. Identify champions,
  4. Link data across programs,
  5. Develop key metrics that connect multiple programs and data sources for reporting and evaluation,
  6. Protect confidentiality of employee data,
  7. Reward teams and individuals for cross-functional collaboration, and
  8. Communicate successes.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) advocates a Total Worker Health approach that combines health protection (worker safety) with health promotion (health and well-being) to create an integrated total health program for employees. The CDC/NIOSH has additional resources on how employers can combine these programs, create efficiencies and maintain a consistent total worker health message to employees.

Relevant Tools and Resources Include:



Other Occupational Health and Safety Resources


References (show references)

1 OSHA Fact Sheet: Job Safety and Health. Available at: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/jobsafetyandhealth-factsheet.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2007.

2 Brown AJ. Job strain raises risk of heart disease recurrence. Reuters Health.2007 Oct 9. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_55899.html.

Page last updated: June 28, 2016

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