The Carolina Center for Healthy Work Design and Worker Well-being is one of 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Our goal is to generate new knowledge and to improve worker health, safety and well-being in North Carolina, the southeast region, and the nation. We have a special focus on essential workers and the impact of working conditions on health outcomes. Our Center includes opportunities for research (including pilot funding), outreach and education activities, and opportunities for networking across multiple disciplines. We are interested in understanding and improving work and working conditions for everyone.

The overall PI and Center Director is Dr. Laura Linnan, Professor in Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The Carolina Center currently supports two research projects. Co-directed by Dr. Marianne Baernholdt from the UNC School of Nursing and Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody from the UNC School of Medicine, Rural and Urban Clinician Well-being and Targeted Improvement Interventions During COVID-19 will address the health and well-being of nurses and physicians in the context of the pandemic. The research team for Total Worker Health (TWH) Approach to Reduce Falls and Advance Fall Protection in Firefighters is led by Dr. Eric Ryan of the UNC Department of Exercise and Sport Science and will focus on slips, trips and falls among firefighters.

Each year, the Center will fund pilot projects that address one of the many priority issues that NIOSH has identified as benefiting from a TWH approach. This includes issues like pace of work, wages, supervisor relations, chemical or aerosol exposures, job strain, safety hazards, and more. We are also interested in funding ideas that address the future of work or other emerging issues that may threaten or benefit workers and workplaces. Our pilot project program is co-directed by Dr. Shawn Kneipp, Sarah Frances Russell Distinguished Term Professor of the UNC School of Nursing, and Dr. Leena Nylander-French, Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering and Director of the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center (NC OSHERC).

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work, conditions of work, and workplaces across the globe. A TWH approach embraces the full array of issues that may impact the health and well-being of workers, mindful that this relates to larger enterprise and societal outcomes. Ongoing educational and outreach activities are central to the mission of the Center. For example, we will help build TWH workforce capacity by training and mentoring students, researchers, and practitioners who want to learn about this emerging new field of TWH and how to apply it in their own disciplines and areas of interests. We will assess needs and interests, prioritize activities and engage workers and other key stakeholders in these efforts. The Outreach and Education Core responsible for this work is co-directed by Dr. Alice Ammerman, Professor of Nutrition and Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Dr. John Staley, Deputy Director, NC OSHERC.

Strategy for our Center, and evaluation of our impact, is conducted by our Planning and Evaluation Core. This team is led by Dr. Linnan and engages the expertise of external evaluators from RTI International (Drs. Jules Payne, Kelli DePriest and Georgia Karuntzos) and an economist from UNC Greensboro (Dr. Jeremy Bray). The Center External Advisory Committee includes national experts in work and health who will provide ongoing support and assistance to the Center. For more about all of our team members, visit the Our Team.

We are proud to partner with the following organizations to advance the Center’s mission and we are looking to develop new partnerships as the work of the Center grows.

Check out the latest news from our center below.
UNC-Chapel Hill named NIOSH Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by the Carolina Center for Healthy Work Design and Worker Well-Being does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.