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Degree of Integration Between Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Wellness Programs

First-year Results From an Insurer-Sponsored Wellness Grant for Smaller Employers

Meyers, Alysha R. PhD; Al-Tarawneh, Ibraheem S. PhD; Bushnell, P. Timothy PhD, MPA; Wurzelbacher, Steven J. PhD; Lampl, Michael P. MS; Tseng, Chih-Yu MS; Turner, Dayona M. MA/Ed.S; Morrison, Carol A. MBA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 9 - p 704–717
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001644
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Objective: The aim of this study was to describe levels of integration between occupational safety and health (OSH) and workplace wellness programs/practices/policies (“programs”) among participants in an insurer-sponsored wellness grant program.

Methods: We analyzed survey responses about year 1 of an insurer-sponsored grant to start a wellness program from 220 small- and medium-sized employers. Responses yielded 25 indicators of OSH-wellness integration, and 10 additional indicators to summarize multiple responses.

Results: At least half of the employers (N = 220) reported some level of integration within five of seven categories of OSH-wellness integration. Employers sometimes considered ergonomics, safety, or substance exposure hazards while designing their wellness program (15%) or reduced such hazards to support their wellness program (24%). Few meaningful differences were observed by employer size.

Conclusions: Although high levels of integration were unusual, some degree of integration was common for most indicator categories.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Field Studies and Engineering, Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies, Cincinnati, Ohio (Drs Meyers, Wurzelbacher, Tseng), Pi Square, LLC, Columbus, Ohio (Dr Al-Tarawneh), Formerly Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene, Columbus, Ohio (Dr Al-Tarawneh), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Office of the Director, Economic Research Support Office, Cincinnati, Ohio (Dr Bushnell), Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene, Pickerington, Ohio (Lampl, Turner, Morrison).

Address correspondence to: Alysha R. Meyers, PhD, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH 45226 (armeyers@cdc.gov).

This research was supported by intramural funds, awarded as part of a competitive process within the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Meyers, Al-Tarawneh, Bushnell, Wurzelbacher, Lampl, Tseng, Turner, and Morrison have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Clinical Significance: Healthcare practitioners should be aware that supports for worker health in the workplace are most often fragmented, which may have implications for communications with employers on behalf of patients. Recommendations for integration are warranted, especially interventions that eliminate or reduce workplace hazards.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine