Today’s workplace operates very differently from the workplace of yesterday. Employers face fierce economic pressures while managing new types of work arrangements, an increasingly older workforce and the narrowing line between work and home life. These challenges can dramatically affect workers’ safety, health and well-being. Learn how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you protect your business from critical workplace safety and health challenges.

5 Critical Challenges FACING BUSINESSES

Scroll Down



By 2020, more than 40% of the U.S. workforce will be contingent workers who have non-traditional employer relationships.

the health risks
Health Risks

Contingent workers have up to twice the risk of on-the-job injuries compared to traditional employees.


37% of temporary workers—the largest segment—work in manufacturing and other hazardous industries.


Contingent workers are more likely to have lower incomes and fewer benefits.


3. work related stress disorders

Job-related stress is a prevalent and costly problem in today’s workplace. About one-third of workers report high levels of stress.

stress consequences
Stress Consequences

In most industries, depression contributes substantially to rates of absenteeism, workers going to work when they’re sick (presenteeism), disability and unemployment.


About 50% of employees report that work regularly interferes with their ability to engage with family and meet the demands of their lives outside of work.


Workplace mistreatment, such as bullying and harassment, was associated with $4.1 billion, or 5.5%, of sickness absenteeism costs in 2010. Workplace mistreatment adversely affects health which can lead to absence, turnover and reduced productivity.


4. aging workforce

By 2020, 1 in 4 American workers will be over 55.

The number of people 65 or older, and 75 or older, has grown by 117% from 1994 to 2014.

Health Consequences
Health Consequences

Aging affects the likelihood of on-the-job injuries such as falls and chronic health conditions such as hypertension, arthritis and heart disease.

The frequency of occupational injuries overall decreases with advancing age; however, injuries that occur are more likely to be fatal for older workers, and a dramatic increase in fatalities begins around age 60.

Workers ages 65 and older have approximately four times the rate of fatal events than workers ages 18-24.

Almost 4 in 5 American adults over 50 have at least one chronic health condition requiring regular management.


5. chronic conditions

Nearly 50% of Americans have at least one chronic health condition. And, of those, almost half have multiple chronic conditions such as hypertension, cholesterol disorders and respiratory diseases.

Many chronic diseases can be caused or worsened by workplace exposures or working conditions:

Long work hours:
Associated with increased obesity and decreased smoking cessation efforts
Hostile work environment:
Associated with increased obesity / hypertension
Shift work:
Increased risk of breast cancer, decreased likelihood for screening
Sedentary, fast-paced or heavy workload associated with obesity

CDC Business Benefits

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research and develops guidelines to protect and promote the safety and health of all workers. Helpful NIOSH programs that address the changing employment relationship and how it may affect worker injury and illness include:

NIOSH Total Worker Health® Program:

Advocates for policies, programs and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.

Learn More

NIOSH Center for Productive Aging and Work:

Focuses on the safety of workers of all ages, promotes their lifelong well-being, and highlights best practices for creating “aging-friendly” workplaces.

Learn More

NIOSH Work Organization and Stress-related Disorders Program:

Aims to prevent occupational stress, diseases, injuries, and fatalities through a focused program of research addressing work organization risk factors.

Learn More

NIOSH Economics Program:

Produces research findings that help policymakers and employers make healthful decisions on broad policies and practices, pay and benefits, employment relationships, work schedules, management practices and technologies

Learn More

take action

Today’s employers need solutions that both protect worker safety and health and advance overall worker well-being. CDC NIOSH’s workplace research and guidelines help employers develop innovative programs, policies and practices that address emerging worker safety and health concerns while continuing to address well-recognized risks of hazards and injury.

5 Actions to Reduce Risks In Today's Changing Workplace

Select to discover more


Design work to eliminate or reduce safety and health hazards and to advance overall worker health and well-being.

  • To prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, consider redesigning work processes and provide ergonomic consultations and arthritis prevention/management education.

  • To address work-related stress, consider implementing policies and practices that provide workers more flexibility and control over their schedules and develop improved communication skills among leaders.


Take on a multi-level perspective to address complex safety and health challenges.

  • Consider the impact of the environment, vulnerable at-risk employees and workplace culture and policies.


Promote and support employee participation in problem solving to address workplace safety and health.

  • Involving frontline employees provides valuable insights, helps alleviate stress and overcomes barriers to safety and health.


Demonstrate leadership and engage mid-level and frontline management in programs to safeguard workers and improve health.

  • Encourage top leaders to openly support workplace safety and health initiatives, facilitate participation across all levels and build safety and health into the organizational mission.


Develop and advance a positive organizational culture of safety and health.

  • Consider building work-life flexibility into organizational policies and implementing age-friendly workplace strategies.


Learn More

Learn More

For more information on how to better protect your workforce and business:

Visit NIOSH Website

Explore the Workplace Safety and Health topic online and sign up for future issues of Business Pulse:

Visit Business Pulse