A pilot study of changes in Total Worker Health® policies and programs and associated changes in safety and health climates in small business

Am J Ind Med. 2021 Dec;64(12):1045-1052. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23290. Epub 2021 Aug 30.


Background: There is little longitudinal research on whether changes to Total Worker Health® (TWH) policies and programs are associated with changes in health climate and safety climate. We hypothesize that as TWH policies and programs change, employees will report changes in safety climate and health climate from baseline to 1 year.

Methods: Twenty-five diverse small businesses and their employees participated in assessments completed approximately 1 year apart. The exposures of interest, TWH policies and programs, were measured using the business-level Healthy Workplace Assessment™ which collects information on six benchmarks. The outcomes of interest, employee perceptions of safety climate and health climate, were measured via an employee survey. We employed paired t-tests and simple linear regression to assess change over a 1-year period.

Results: The mean Healthy Workplace Assessment overall score changed by 11.3 points (SD = 11.8) from baseline to Year 1. From baseline to Year 1, the mean scores of each benchmark changed in a positive direction within this sample. The mean safety climate score and health climate score changed by +0.1 points (SD = 0.2) and +0.1 points (SD = 6.4) from baseline to Year 1, respectively. The associations between changes in the overall Healthy Workplace Assessment score and health climate and safety climate scores were negligible [β = 0.01 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.002, 0.02), and β = 0.01 (95% CI: 0.002, 0.02), respectively].

Conclusion: Our study suggests that when small businesses improve upon their TWH policies and programs they experience marginal measurable improvements in employee perceptions of their workplace safety climate and health climate.

Keywords: employee engagement; health climate; health leadership; longitudinal study; occupational safety and health; safety climate; safety leadership.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Policy
  • Small Business*
  • Workplace