Is Your Workplace Making You Sick? Now There’s a Test for That
Business + Economy

Is Your Workplace Making You Sick? Now There’s a Test for That

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Companies have made getting employees fit a major focus in recent years, as skyrocketing health care costs have boosted the incentive to foster the healthiest workforce possible.

For many companies that has meant spending money on things like office wellness programs that reward workers for losing weight or quitting smoking. New research, however, shows that the design of offices themselves may be responsible for the health (or lack of health) of workers. Important factors include such basics as air quality, lighting, temperature and ergonomics.

Related: The 10 Hardest Working Cities in America

Now, FitWell, a new program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration, aims to give offices a score that measures how well their design encourages the health of workers. “We’re a health agency, so we’re trying make sure we’re operating to promote health and taking those lessons learned and sharing them more broadly,” CDC chief sustainability officer Liz York told FastCoExist last week.

The program scores buildings on more than 60 criteria assessing the impact on employee health of things like stairwells and outdoor spaces, vending machines and air systems.

The voluntary program was piloted in 89 federal office buildings and is being released to limited participants this year before launching to the public in 2017. Program designers hope that attaining FitWel certification will eventually become as influential as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

FitWel is being administered by the Center for Active Design, a non-profit whose goal is to use design to foster health and engaged communities.