Magazine article Occupational Hazards

NIOSH Conference Ties Health Promotion to Health Protection

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

NIOSH Conference Ties Health Promotion to Health Protection

Article excerpt

Ensuring that workers go home from work as healthy as they came to work is no longer enough, according to John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

"We need to ensure that workers return to work the next day as safe and healthy as they can be," Howard asserted in the opening plenary of a symposium titled "Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce."

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Breaking down the barriers between what Howard called "the health and safety protection and promotion duopoly" was the major theme of the conference, held in Washington, D.C., October 26-28.

Howard's speech, and those that followed, made it clear that unsustainable increases in the cost of health care is one of the principal reasons why policy makers and business leaders are interested in connecting newer health promotion strategies with the more traditional approaches of workplace safety and health protection.

Another factor driving this initiative is erosion of the distinction between occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses. For example, acute workplace injuries have declined, while work-related chronic conditions, such as low-back pain, have risen, but it is considerably more difficult to determine the workplace causality of such chronic conditions. …

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