Improving Workers Health is Focus of New Center at School of Medicine

January 27, 2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In an effort to improve workers’ health and quality of life, Wake Forest University School of Medicine has established the Center for Worker Health (CWH).

 The overall goal of the CWH is to provide a connecting point for a variety of research focused on all aspects of the work-health relationship. The center will bring together investigators, health care providers, community members and business leaders interested in protecting and promoting worker health and quality of life, as well as creating workplace solutions that are beneficial for employers, workers and their families.

 “This is a way to facilitate the interactions of people interested in occupational health,” said Thomas Arcury, Ph.D., director of the CWH. “Work imposes organizational systems upon individuals that shape such aspects of daily life as when they eat and sleep, as well as how they interact with their families and communities, and can also have short and long-term health consequences.”

 Job-related tasks also bring workers into contact with materials and circumstances that have the potential of causing illness and disease, Arcury said.

 The CWH will build collaboration through the Wake Forest Translational Science Institute with faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and East Tennessee State University. A cross-campus seminar series featuring work-and-health research by faculty and students on all campuses will be initiated as well as funding for pilot projects that focus on basic or translational work-and-health research.

 An advisory panel of business and labor leaders on worker health will be created to engage the community and provide outreach. This panel will help identify work-health concerns that can be addressed through research and translation.
 Arcury said that having the CWH is important because someone’s work is so closely tied to his or her health. Bringing together so many aspects of the work-health relationship will create a “local laboratory for both understanding human health and for translating research findings into concrete strategies for reducing illness and promoting health.”


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