Development and Validation of a Total Worker Health® (TWH) Climate Scale

Total Worker Health Climate Project Team

Total Worker Health® (TWH) expands traditional occupational safety to address workers’ overall health and well-being. Organizational leaders need an efficient and integrated way to learn in real time whether they are meeting the safety, health, and well-being needs of their employees. Such a tool would help leaders determine their organization’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement to direct proactive changes to work conditions before serious problems develop.

We will develop and validate a novel TWH Climate scale that integrates workers’ shared perceptions about safety, health, and well-being. This scale will encompass three dimensions of TWH Climate and result in three sub-climate scores (Safety Climate using our current scale and newly-developed subscales of Physical Health Climate and Well-being Climate), and culminate in a composite TWH Climate score. Our central hypotheses are that each sub-climate scale will predict outcomes within its own domain (e.g., SC predicts safety outcomes) and that the integrated TWH Climate will have stronger relations with all three types of outcomes: 1. safety outcomes (e.g., better safety compliance and participation); 2. physical health (e.g., less chemically-induced and chronic-type illness, higher levels of health knowledge and healthy behaviors); 3. well-being outcomes (e.g., less job stress, greater mental health, work-family balance, life satisfaction), as well as, organizationally-important outcomes (e.g., turnover intentions, organizational commitment).

The “Development and Validation of a Total Worker Health® (TWH) Climate Scale” project is funded by NIOSH  

The first domain, Safety Climate (SC), is widely recognized as one of the best predictors of objective safety outcomes and aids in proactively improving safety and evaluating safety interventions. Building on this work, the TWH Climate Scale will include three final sub-dimension scales (SC, physical health climate, and well-being climate) that will individually, and jointly, predict outcomes relevant to all three domains. A TWH Climate Scale will provide critical insights into workplace outcomes across all three domains of the measure (safety, physical health, and well-being), allowing organizations to make data-driven decisions about their identified strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Safety Climate (SC) refers to employees’ shared perceptions of their organization’s policies, procedures, and practices as they relate to the value and importance of safety within the organization. In the safety field, SC is among the best predictors of future safety outcomes and is used to proactively identify safety problem areas and evaluate intervention effects over time. Extant SC literature, however, has not addressed the scope and purposes of the NIOSH TWH framework. A broadly applicable, integrated, reliable, and valid TWH Climate scale is needed to identify workplace strengths and opportunities for improvement, and predict outcomes that cut across safety, health, and well-being.

Leaders could use TWH Climate scores to guide holistic and streamlined decision-making about TWH interventions and to evaluate their effectiveness over time. A validated TWH Climate scale could predict not only safety outcomes, but also additional outcomes beyond safety, by assessing the current organizational climate for physical health and well-being. Such a scale has the potential to be an innovation with global impact. No such tool (a robust integrated TWH Climate scale) exists.
Today, safety, health, and well-being are considered essentially important to our lives. As many of us often spend most of our time at work, being able to provide employees with a healthy work environment has been a priority for companies across industries. Numerous organizational studies reveal that TWH Climate is a positive indicator of both employee and organizational well-being.

The TWH® Climate Scale is an extension of our pre-existing safety climate scales. For more than two decades, Dr. Emily Huang has effectively applied these safety climate scales in many of her studies to help companies across industries to obtain an in-depth understanding of the safety climate in their workplaces. Based on these previous effective experimental results, we extend the scale by incorporating additional items related to occupational health as well as mental well-being. Our hope is to further help companies better understand the influences of their existing organizational climate on both employee and organizational outcomes, and to inform more effective decision-making in these organizations.

Safety Climate Team
Emily (Yueng-hsiang) Huang, PhD, Associate Professor, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU

Emily (Yueng-hsiang) Huang, PhD, (PI, Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Systems Science) is an Associate Professor at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, within the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the director of the Safety Climate Lab. Dr. Huang is one of the leading developers of safety climate research and scale development. Total Worker Health is a natural extension of safety culture and climate, making Dr. Huang uniquely qualified to advance Total Worker Health measurement tools and create a novel Total Worker Health Climate Scale.

W. Kent Anger, PhD, Professor Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences

W. Kent Anger, PhD, (Co-I, Experimental Psychologist) is an Experimental Psychologist and Professor at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences in the Oregon Health and Science University, Professor at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, and Associate Director for Applied Research at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences.  Dr. Anger was the founding and previous Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, which is one of the six NIOSH centers for TWH. He brings extensive experience in TWH to the team.

Mo Wang, PhD

Mo Wang, PhD, (Subaward PI, Quantitative Expert, Industrial-Organizational Psychology) is a Lanzillotti-McKethan Eminent Scholar Chair at the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida, Department Chair of the Management Department, as well as the Director of Human Resource Research Center at the University of Florida. Dr. Wang’s professional career and expertise in research generally encompass research areas of advanced quantitative methodologies like Bayesian statistics, machine learning approaches, computational modeling, occupational health and safety psychology, expatriate and newcomer adjustment, leadership and team processes, and retirement and older worker employment.

Ryan Olson, PhD, Professor an Co-Director OHWC, Pregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU

Ryan Olson, PhD, (Industrial- Organizational Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis) is a Professor at OHSU with expertise in occupational safety, intervention design, and integration of safety into employee health programs. He is a founding investigator and current Co-Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center – one of six Centers of Excellence in Total Worker Health® (TWH).

Yimin He, PhD, (Industrial-Organizational Psychology) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Yimin He, PhD, (Industrial-Organizational Psychology) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. He’s research encompasses quantitative methodologies and occupational safety and health; she will collaborate as a content expert for scientific design and statistical analysis in this research.

Anna Kelly

Anna Kelly, BA, (Senior Research Assistant) is a Project Coordinator for Dr. Huang’s Safety Climate Lab in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and Portland State University in Art and Psychology and is currently earning an MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Colorado State University.  

Elisa Rega, BA, MM

Elisa Rega, BA, (Senior Research Assistant) is a Project Manager for Dr. Huang’s Safety Climate Lab in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Oberlin College.

Frank Giordano, MS

Frank Giordano, PhD Candidate, (Research Associate) is a Project Manager for Dr. Emily Huang’s Safety Climate Lab in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU. He earned his M.S. at Kansas State University and his B.S. at Manhattan College. He is currently a PhD candidate from Kansas State University, finishing his degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. 

Cassandra Chlevin

Cassandra Chlevin, PhD Candidate, (Research Associate) is a Project Manager for Dr. Emily Huang's Safety Climate Lab in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Andrews University and an M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Kansas State University. She is currently earning her Ph.D. from Kansas State in the same field.

  • Elizabeth Hill, MS, Total Worker Health Adviser at SAIF Corporation. Ms. Hill has over 10 years of experience working in occupational health and safety, and 20 years of experience working in public health.
  • Jennifer Hogge, MS, Total Worker Health Expert, Director, HR Business Partner, Sr. Manager HRBP Lam Research. Ms. Hogge has over 25 years of experience working in human resources, industrial-organizational psychology, and safety promotion.
  • Theodore Courtney, MS, President, TKC Consulting, LLC; Vice President, Product Strategy Concorde Health, Inc.; Instructor, Injury Prevention, Safety and Ergonomics Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University. Mr. Courtney is certified in comprehensive practice and ergonomics by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and was co-developer of the national board examination in ergonomics for safety professionals.
  • Jin Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor of the Department of Psychological Sciences and Director of the Work Systems & Occupational Health Psychology lab at the Kansas State University. Dr. Lee is an Occupational Health Psychologist with training in industrial-organizational psychology, human factors/ergonomics, and public health. He primarily researches workplace safety, health, and well-being promotion.
  • Jia-Hua (Jim) Lin, PhD, Research Ergonomist in Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program in the State of Washington, Department of Labor and Industries; Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. Dr. Jia-Hua Lin is currently a research ergonomist with the SHARP (Safety and Health Assessment of Research for Prevention) program within the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
  • Robert Sinclair, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Clemson University. Dr. Sinclair’s research career focuses on the scientific study of factors related to worker safety, health, and well-being.