Implementing workplace health promotion initiatives: who should we target?
Background: With recent increase in focus on population-based interventions in workplaces, targeting lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease, there is a need to ensure that interventions maximise total reach while still reaching more disadvantaged groups within the workforce. This requires assembling information on NSW workforce and health risks data in a way that is useful to guide planning in health promotion. This paper aims to describe the NSW workforce by employer size, industry divisions, occupation classification, geographic location and risk factor prevalence. Methods: Data from a unique combination of public and non-publicly available data sets was used to describe the NSW workforce by demographic, setting-specific variables and risk factor prevalence. Results: NSW represents 31% of Australia?s workforce. Large employers represent 1% of businesses but employ 33% of the NSW workforce. Reaching large numbers of NSW workers can be achieved by targeting large employers in metropolitan regions; however, a high proportion of workers with multiple health risks are located in non-metropolitan areas and industries that have a high proportion of small employers. Conclusions: The workplace as a setting for population based health promotion interventions provides a number of challenges due to the fragmented nature and dispersed distribution of the workforce.