Healthier Workforce Center Expands Its Regional Presence
Employers in the Midwest struggling with workplace health and safety issues now have a stronger ally in their efforts to promote a safer and healthier workforce. Workers in Iowa and neighboring states experience more work-related injuries and illnesses than in other parts of the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The region also has higher rates of unhealthy behaviors such as heavy alcohol consumption and obesity than other areas of the country, with high rates of occupational fatalities. Recognizing the critical needs in the region, particularly among small employers, the University of Iowa is pleased to announce the expansion and launch of the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest, in partnership with Washington University in St. Louis and the Nebraska Safety Council, to provide increased attention to these issues.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has funded the Healthier Workforce Center at the University of Iowa since 2006 to address Total Worker Health. The Center serves a resource for policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with health promotion to advance worker well-being. The expanded center is part of a new, five-year commitment from the National Institute of Safety and Health. Center Director Diane Rohlman, PhD, believes this expanded effort will better serve our regional needs. “Our partnerships in Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas will help us leverage even more practical and research expertise to help businesses succeed and to maximize the safety and health of our workers,” said Rohlman. Associate Director of the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest Bradley Evanoff, MD, MPH at Washington University is pleased to bring more than 25 years of experience as an occupational medicine doctor and as researcher in occupational diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and chemical exposures to bear to help employers and employees maximize their well-being. “Worker health is at the core of family and community health,” Evanoff added. Shelly Campo, PhD, the Center’s Outreach Director, provided an invitation to join the effort. “We encourage a broad range of partners including businesses, municipalities, not-for profit organizations, and labor unions to partner with us,” said Campo. “We offer a variety of free resources, training, and pilot grant opportunities for community organizations, businesses, and researchers.” Find more information at hwcmw.org.
Center Partners with Iowa League of Cities & IMWCA
You may have seen the University of Iowa’s Healthier Workforce Center staff, including Deputy Director Kevin Kelly and Outreach Director Shelly Campo, in various towns across Iowa this summer. They have been partnering with the Iowa League of Cities and the Iowa Municipal Workers’ Compensation Association to learn about the safety and health issues facing municipal workers in Iowa and the policies, programs, and practices being used to address them. Municipal workers can include police, firefighters, city clerks, librarians, road crews, bus drivers, municipal waste workers, park rangers, lifeguards, and a host of other types of full-time, part-time and seasonal workers. Recently, they have been to Henry County, Spencer, Atlantic, Waukee, Carroll, Fairfield, and the Region XII Council of Governments with IMWCA loss control staff members Ed Morrison and Scott Smith. In addition, Center staff met with municipal clerks from all over the state in Ames on July 28 at the Iowa Municipal Professionals Academy sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and presented on mapping workplace hazards, sharing best practices and brainstorming on effective ways to address them. This fall, more presentations and workshops are planned at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Meeting on September 15, and at the Iowa Municipal Workers’ Compensation Association One Day Safety University on October 11. Both upcoming events are in Des Moines.
Center Launches Study of Construction Worker Apprentices
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the US. It has the highest number of fatalities of any type of job, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As if precarious work at extreme heights, exposure to chemicals and dust, and heavy lifting were not enough threats to the health of construction workers, irregular employment and hours, long commutes, multiple job sites, and long workdays cause psychological stress and can lead to risky health behaviors such as poor diet and substance use. New construction workers are at even greater risk according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In order to address this issue, the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest has received funding from the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to find ways to tackle the problem by partnering with Carpenters’ District Council of Greater Saint Louis and Vicinity and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmith, Forgers and Helpers, the first labor-based affiliate under NIOSH’s Total Worker Health® program in 2014. The Apprentice Project team will: (1) evaluate the impact of work organization and work environment factors on the health and health behaviors of apprentices in three construction trades; (2) identify workplace programs, policies, and practices affecting worker health and well-being that are currently implemented by construction contractors and trade unions, and determine readiness for adoption of new interventions to improve worker health; and (3) assess the feasibility of partnering with organizations serving construction workers (e.g., unions, insurance companies) to disseminate interventions to improve the health and well-being of apprentice construction workers. The project is being co-led by Healthier Workforce Center Director Diane Rohlman, PhD, at the University of Iowa and Associate Center Director Bradley Evanoff, MD, MPH, at Washington University at St. Louis.
The Healthier Workforce Center, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is pleased to announce the availability of funds for new investigator, student and community pilot projects. Click here for more information.
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The Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest (HWCMW) is one of six Total Worker Health® Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Our mission is to improve the health of workers in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as nationally, through integrated health promotion and health protection research, collaboration, and dissemination of successful interventions.