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Colorado School of Public Health Team to Train Mexico’s Social Security Workers in Workplace Health, Safety and Well-Being

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In August, 200 Mexican Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS)) occupational health and safety professionals from throughout Mexico will gather in Puebla, Mexico to participate in training and earn certificates in an integrated approach to worker well-being.

With the support and leadership from the Directory of Economic and Social Benefits, led by Mauricio Hernández Ávila, MD, PhD, the training will benefit IMSS employees who specialize in occupational medicine, safety and engineering and work with businesses across the country, impacting the lives of millions of employees and their families.

The Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) is providing this Total Worker Health® training as part of an agreement between the University of Colorado and IMSS. Internationally known for their work in Total Worker Health (TWH) training and research interventions, CHWE was an ideal partner for this undertaking. For the last seven years, CHWE has conducted TWH research, interventions and leadership trainings in Latin America, including one of Latin America’s largest agribusinesses, Pantaleon.

“Our impact will begin with training of the group of IMSS workers who work with companies in regions across Mexico. So, our reach will be widespread, which is exciting,” said Diana Jaramillo, MPH, senior professional research assistant at CHWE and project lead for the training.

Over the course of two weeks, the IMSS TWH trainings will cover a range of topics that position the learners to help change organizational culture and leadership to promote well-being. Some themes include practical approaches to assessing, planning, and implementing strategies to change business culture; approaches to disease prevention and management; mental health and psychosocial risk factors in the workplace; and new approaches to protecting workers from the impact of heat and other climate factors.

Serena Rice, MS, from the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be spend two days co-leading trainings IMSS on how to provide TWH facilitator training. These sessions serve as a “train the trainer” approach to increasing the number of TWH leaders in the country.

One of the major “case studies” in the training builds on work that CHWE has done with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and through public-private partnership with Pantaleon. “Our work in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico will be studied by the trainees to understand how a large organization has successfully implemented a TWH approach,” said Lee Newman, MD, MA, director of CHWE and director of the training program. “Representatives of the company attend and share their experience, from corporate adoption to the details of addressing chronic health conditions and job safety,” he said.

“Mexico has increasingly focused on improving worker health and safety on a large scale,” said Jaramillo. “IMSS recently launched a program that is complementary to TWH, called ELSSA (Entornos Laborales Seguros y Saludables) translated as ‘Safe and Healthy Work Environments.' ELSSA is a voluntary program for Mexican companies to improve health, safety, and well-being of workers and has had a lot of early adoption. TWH and ELSSA approaches have a lot to share with each other.”

"At the Occupational Health Coordination, we seek the constant training of our occupational health doctors and security specialist engineers who have the great responsibility of carrying out OSH prevention in affiliated companies. They promote these skills to our resident doctors who are being trained In occupational medicine. These doctors represent more than 10 percent of the individuals in training. I am sure that the Total Worker Health approach will enrich the preventive programs we do at IMSS,” said Rebeca Velasco Reyna, MD, MSc, occupational health coordinator at IMSS.

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Lee Newman, MD, MA Diana Jaramillo, expert cropDiana Jaramillo, MPH

About IMSS
The IMSS is the institution with the greatest presence in health care and in the social protection of Mexicans since its foundation in 1943, for which it combines research and medical practice, with the administration of resources for the retirement of its insured, to provide peace of mind. encouragement and stability to workers and their families, before any of the risks provided for in the Social Security Law. Today, more than half of the Mexican population has something to do with the Institute, so far the largest of its kind in Latin America. Through the Occupational Health Coordination, the Institute provides services in the field of prevention and care of accidents related to work and occupational diseases and their sequelae, the determination of the state of disability for work, in addition to formulating strategies for the reincorporation to work, to carry out these actions, it has a structure of more than 1100 doctors specialized in occupational medicine or occupational and environmental medicine and more than 500 engineers specialized in safety at work and laboratory professionals, 13 regional training centers in OSH and 4 occupational health and environmental laboratories.