Meehan Announces $5 Million Grant for Workplace Health

07/31/2006
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

Congressman Meehan Contact: Sandra Salstrom, 202-225-3411

UML to establish Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace

Lowell, MA -- Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) announced today that the University of Massachusetts, Lowell was awarded a grant for an estimated $5 million over five years from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The grant is for the creation of the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW).  The creation of the Center at UMass Lowell's Department of Work Environment will involve substantial collaboration with colleagues at the University of Connecticut. 

The grant was awarded under a very competitive process in which over 40 applications were received from institutions across the country, and UMass Lowell was one of two selected to be funded under NIOSH's Centers for Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce initiative.  The other is the University of Iowa.   

"A healthy workforce is vital to maintaining our competitive edge in the global marketplace, and UMass Lowell will be leading the way in promoting workplace safety and health among New England's expansive workforce," Congressman Meehan said.  "I am extremely pleased that UMass Lowell was able to secure this highly-competitive $5 million grant.  UMass Lowell is consistently on the cutting edge of research and development, and they are once again leading the way in an area that will help ensure that Massachusetts and all of New England continues to be amongst the most highly-productive workforce in the world."

“It has always been easiest to achieve safer and healthier workplaces by implementing preventive measures, such as ergonomically designed work stations or patient lifting devices for nursing homes.  At the same time, the workplace has become a common location for health education and health promotion activities.  This center will combine the expertise of both types of health professionals, in order to learn whether we can be even more effective," said Laura Punnett, Professor of Work Environment at UMass Lowell.  "These grant funds will permit us to take a much broader and more inclusive approach to promoting health as well as preventing disease and injury.”

The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace is a cooperative initiative by investigators from two major public universities in the New England area, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Connecticut, along with the private sector (St. Paul Travelers Insurance Company, Genesis HealthCare Corporation, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety), labor (Massachusetts Nurses Association and the Connecticut Council for Occupational Safety and Health), and state government (Massachusetts and Connecticut Departments of Public Health).

The primary objective of the NIOSH's initiative is to establish Centers for Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce that will assess the value of the integration or coordination of health protection and health promotion in the workplace.  This will be accomplished by conducting trans-disciplinary research, education and translation projects.

The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) will greatly enhance public health by integrating two core public health areas, occupational health and safety (OHS) and health promotion and education (HPE), linking primary prevention to the workplace, and the workplace to primary prevention.  It will evaluate whether this strategy provides enhanced health benefits and/or greater cost-effectiveness, and evaluate both opportunities and obstacles to achieving this integration.