According to research, Minnesota employees may be more likely to stay healthier and safer on the job when their workplace environments improve. This research has driven a shift in the focus of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health away from looking at illness and injury at work and toward looking at ways to prevent those illnesses in the first place.

Examples of the relationship between work conditions and health can be seen in studies that show a link between cardiovascular disease and long work hours or little support from supervisors. Shift workers might be more prone to obesity, injury and sleep disorders. NIOSH supports several organizations that do research in this area and that work with companies to improve worker health and safety.

For example, the Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which received a five-year grant from NIOSH, works with the construction industry on developing health and safety programs. It also works with area hospitals such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital where it helped implement an initiative to increase the usage of devices to help with patient handling. This reduced the injury rate.

Health care workers and construction workers are among the employees most likely to get injured on the job, but workplace injuries can happen in any sector. A person might trip on a box of files left in a hallway in an office, or an industrial worker might be injured by machinery. Some employees may be unaware of their eligibility for workers’ compensation, and their employers might not inform them or might discourage them from applying for benefits. Injured workers might want to consult an attorney to learn about their rights, how to recognize retaliation on the job, or how to appeal a claim denial.