Talking Total Worker Health in the Tri-Cities

One of the biggest lessons in my 30+ years working in occupational safety and health (OSH) has been about the power of collaboration. It is only through collaboration that we truly spread what we know, empower others and learn from them, and do the good that we intend to do. An Oregon Total Worker Health Alliance recent learning opportunity in Kennewick, Washington, was a true demonstration of such a success.

First, we applaud Apollo Mechanical Contractors in recognizing their desire to move ahead with Total Worker Health®, and to do so conscientiously, and at all levels of their organization. As I learned a bit more about this company, it became clear that Apollo has learned in its experience what we are slowly learning everywhere: a safety-supportive culture helps us understand our own readiness, and likeliness for success.

When Apollo’s safety team members Lisa Hill and Mike Ellis expressed an interest in providing more education on Total Worker Health, I encouraged them to imagine pulling in other occupational safety and health professionals to be part of a potential learning opportunity in Kennewick. For those unfamiliar with this part of Washington State, Kennewick joins Pasco and Richland to make up the “Tri-Cities,” home of a large number of OSH professionals supporting work at the nearby Hanford Site. Because Apollo did decide to host a training session and invite other organizations, my co-trainer Liz Hill of SAIF and I experienced the richness of discussing Total Worker Health with occupational health and safety professionals, occupational nurses, and wellness professionals, all who support work in the Tri-Cities area. As instructors, Liz and I continue to learn more when training includes representation from multiple organizations. In this case, we also appreciated that so many of our attendees were members of the American Society of Safety Professionals, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses.

In these learning opportunities and trainings with OSH professionals, we continue to share the key elements from NIOSH’s Fundamental’s of Total Worker Health: Essential Elements for Advancing Worker Safety, Health and Well-Being, augmented with examples and case studies. The more that we do this and learn from interactions with different professionals and organizations, the better we become at sharing relevant stories, examples and tips. Thank you to our partners for your willingness in sharing your findings with us.

We look forward to continue to collaborate both geographically and organizationally with others as we identify key elements for organizations to move forward in adopting Total Worker Health concepts, initiatives and practices. Next up? The Oregon Wine Board Symposium (Portland, OR), Oregon’s Cascade Occupational Safety and Health Conference (Eugene, OR), and Northwest Safety and Health Summit by Region 10 VPPPA (Boise, ID). See you there?

More about the Oregon Total Worker Health Alliance and training curriculum
Resources and toolkits from the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center
Total Worker Health Resources from SAIF
Total Worker Health from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
NIOSH’s Total Worker Health website