The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health coined the term “Total Worker Health” a number of years ago, but it’s largely unrecognized by that name in the Louisiana industrial space. In practice, however, it’s not new at all.
TWH focuses not merely on the safety and health of workers, but on their overall wellbeing. In the process, the initiative addresses a host of job-related factors such as wages, work hours, workload, interactions with coworkers and supervisors and access to paid leave.
Dr. Casey Chosewood, who directs the program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, says TWH brings together all aspects of work through integrated interventions that collectively address worker safety, health and well-being.
While the principals of TWH aren’t necessarily new to local industry, Chosewood hopes to unify owners around the TWH concept. NIOSH is particularly interested in industrial and contract workers who are vulnerable because of the type of work that they do. That could include the health effects of “gig” work or stresses of insecure employment. “These are places where a lot of risk exists already,” he adds. “A lot of oil and gas workers suffer from insecure work. They might have a job now that might disappear quickly in the next downturn. That can be detrimental to a worker’s overall wellbeing, as these are major stressors.”