THE PREVALENCE OF PRACTICING SAFETY PROFESSIONALS’ KNOWLEDGE, INVOLVEMENT, AND COMPETENCY ASSOCIATED WITH WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS: GAUGING THE SAFETY PROFESSION’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE TOTAL WORKER HEALTH INITIATIVE
Date of Award
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
GEORGE DELCLOS, MD, PHD
ROBERT EMERY, DRPH
MELISSA PESKIN, PHD
The morbidity and mortality burden of occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States became such a public health concern that in 1970 the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law. This law requires employers to provide workplaces “free from recognized hazards” and spurred the development of specific regulations along with the creation of academic and professional training programs to educate individuals about the safety sciences and careers in safety fields. Today there are an estimated 26,000 professionally trained and board certified safety professionals supporting workplace programs across the country, alongside numerous non-certified, but degreed, practicing safety professionals. While the collective efforts of these professionals has served to significantly reduce the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses, an emerging body of scientific knowledge indicates that the health status of any worker is affected by both occupational and non-occupational exposures. The failure to consider both impacts an employee’s “total worker health”. Led by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Total Worker Health® (TWH) initiative, some employers have created workplace wellness initiatives and programs. While these efforts are quite laudable, it is unclear to what extent, if any, safety professionals are involved in developing or operating TWH-related programs. Involvement with a wellness program carries with it certain sensitivities and risks. To gain a better sense of the level of safety professional involvement with workplace TWH-related programs, this research project was implemented to: Ascertain the prevalence of the safety professionals’ knowledge of wellness programs in general and specifically the TWH initiative; Establish what level of involvement, if any, safety professionals have with their institutions’ workplace wellness programs; Identify training or credentialing safety professionals have, if any, in wellness topics; and Examine the associations between outcomes (knowledge, involvement and competency level) and selected covariates/determinants (age, gender, smoking status, ethnicity, self-reported health, years of work experience, years of experience in safety, years of experience in wellness, field of work and number of employees at place of employment). We administered a web-based survey emailed to 5150 ASSE members during the fall of 2017. We received completed surveys from 654 responders (12.7%). Results showed that the majority of safety professionals (73%) are not familiar with the TWH program, but 78% reporting their company having a workplace wellness program. Safety professionals do implement and train in some of the topics covered in TWH. The main correlates of TWH knowledge were being female (aOR 1.49, 95%CI:1.02-2.16), African-American (aOR 3.33, 95%CI: 1.53-7.23) and having years of experience in wellness. Increasing years of experience in wellness was also a positive determinant for involvement with their institution’s workplace wellness program and having prior training in TWH topics, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 3.5 to 35.5. Poor self-rated health was inversely associated with knowledge of TWH (aOR 0.44, 95%CI: 0.22-0.89). Company size was inversely associated with the likelihood that a safety professional is familiar with TWH. Only 284 (43.4%) of safety professionals reported receiving training in wellness topics. With these low rates of knowledge and training in TWH, increased awareness is needed. Safety professionals’ involvement with TWH is moderately high for traditional safety topics, but low in other areas. Training opportunities in TWH are minimal and credentialing is non existent. These findings, in turn, suggest that there is an opportunity to develop educational materials and training programs specifically designed for safety professionals as well as potentially developing a credentialing program for TWH.
LAINE, JENNIFER C., "THE PREVALENCE OF PRACTICING SAFETY PROFESSIONALS’ KNOWLEDGE, INVOLVEMENT, AND COMPETENCY ASSOCIATED WITH WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS: GAUGING THE SAFETY PROFESSION’S ENGAGEMENT WITH THE TOTAL WORKER HEALTH INITIATIVE" (2019). UT School of Public Health Dissertations (Open Access). 63.