OHWC Advisory Committee Meets

Friday the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) External Advisory Committee met on the OHSU campus in the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences seminar room. The Committee considered the progress and accomplishments of the OHWC in it’s first 3+ years and its plans for its next grant application for a new 5-year cycle.

The committee is pictured below, commenting on the weighty issues surrounding workforce health in Oregon and the US.  The seriousness of the issues are reflected in the committee’s demeanor and that of the scientists in the Center.  Population health is a very serious issue for our country and the workforce is half the US population.

The OHWC accomplishments were in the areas of:

  • Research studies of safety and health interventions in home care workers, construction (public and private), corrections and young workers. Each research and one translational project has conducted a randomized control trial (RCT) and found significant changes in learning new information, improving safety and health as well as personal health or well-being. This research is largely complete and manuscripts describing it are undergoing peer review at science journals now or will soon be submitted.
  • Outreach (partnerships, resources, blog) and education (Occupational Health Psychology Summer Institute with a special focus on Total Worker HealthTM or TWH).

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center is developing it’s plans for new research, outreach and education in the next cycle and is meeting with different organizations to develop partnerships for that application. Fundamentally, the OHWC is developing the science questions and the partner organizations are identifying their needs – that we address through interventions built to answer our science questions. Generally the science questions are cast as hypotheses.

The External Advisory committee had praise for our accomplishments in the last 3+ years and sage advice on our direction as we plan our future.  It’s an exciting time for us and we hope for our new partner organizations.

National safety stand down event coming to Portland

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, with more than 200 deaths and over 10,000 serious injuries each year in the US. In Oregon there were 71 deaths from falls during 2003-2013 and 29 were in construction. The annual weeklong National Safety Stand-Down and Fall Prevention campaign began in 2012. This year, during a two-week period (May 4 -15), leaders are encouraged to set aside time to have open discussions with workers about falls and how to prevent them. Employers can receive formal recognition for participating in the Stand-Down if they complete a small online questionnaire and print their “Certificate of Participation.”

A special event, the Portland, OR Stand-Down, will be held May 8, 2015 at the Sheet Metal Institute, 2379 NE 178th Ave. from 8:00-3:00. The event will include a 5-hour course “Fall Hazard Awareness for the Construction Industry.” The focus of this course is to identify, evaluate, and prevent or control fall hazards at construction sites. The course focuses on falls to a lower level, not falls to the same level resulting from slips and falls. The target audience is the small construction employer, business owner, or manager who would like to obtain information about fall hazards found in the workplace. The training is also suitable for employees and employee representatives. Topics include identifying fall hazards, analyzing fall hazards, and preventing fall hazards as well as OSHA resources addressing fall hazards. Local industry representatives will also guest speak at this special event.

OR-FACE is partnered with the OSHA Training Institute, AGC Oregon Columbia Chapter, Oregon Home Builders Association, SafeBuild Alliance and Oregon OSHA to host the Stand-Down Event on May 8. Program, registration information and additional resources are provided on the OR-FACE website.

 

Protecting temporary workers

Forty-six percent of U.S. employers intend to hire temporary workers in 2015 – an even higher rate than hired in 2014. Federal OSHA and NIOSH recently launched an initiative to improve safety for this often vulnerable workforce, with the recognition that temporary workers get hurt and die on the job more frequently than the permanent workforce.

This initiative more clearly defines responsibilities for worker safety and health, as illustrated in this quote posted on OSHA’s Protecting Temporary Workers webpage:

Host employers need to treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are therefore jointly responsible for temp employee’s safety and health. It is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.”
David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

Whether you are an employer who hires temporary workers as part of your workforce, a risk or loss control manager who provides safety and health support, or a staffing agency that places workers – you have an important role to play in the protection of this group of workers. Are you making incorrect assumptions about your responsibilities? Are you looking for ideas to improve your practices?

We are pleased to sponsor a full day dialogue on this topic, integrating presentations from regulators, safety and health professionals, and staffing agency representatives. We hope that you will check out the program and join us for this important discussion on Thursday, May 28, 2015. We appreciate our event supporters Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, and Right Sourcing, along with the organizations providing presenters including Oregon Worker Compensation Division, Action Employment, BBSI, Wood Castle Furniture, NW Staffing, Selectemp, and CSR.

Resources:
Temporary and Contingent Worker Safety and Health symposium
OSHA Protecting Temporary Workers
Occupational Health Sciences Health and Safety Training


 

 

 

New pesticide fact sheets from ODA

Improper use of pesticides in the home, on the farm, or in a forest can harm people, animals and the environment. The Pesticide and Analytical Response Center (PARC), a program operated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Pesticides Division, and the Oregon Health Authority, have collaborated in the production of two fact sheets that explain what to do and who to call if you are concerned about an application or have actually been exposed to a pesticide. Immediate actions to take to prevent or stop an exposure, important information that you should write down to document the circumstances of an exposure, how to report an incident, and additional information resources are provided.

The fact sheets are available online in printable PDF format. Click here for the “What to do if you are exposed to pesticides” fact sheet, and here for the “Concerned about a pesticide application?” fact sheet.

 

For additional information, please visit:

Pesticide Analytical and Response Center

Pesticide Exposure Safety and Tracking Program (PEST), Oregon Public Health Division

National Pesticide Information Center

NIOSH Center Director’s Meeting foretells changes

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) held it’s now annual NIOSH Center Directors meetings in Cincinnati, Ohio (March 19-20). Dr. Eula Bingham (Director of OSHA from 1977-1981), now 85, is pictured addressing the Directors on nanoparticles, and she recalled the Brazilian Blowout problem identified by the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Oregon OSHA. But NIOSH continues to change.


Attending from the Northwest: Kent, Leslie and Diane
Attending from the Northwest were the University of Washington’s Education and Research Center (ERC) and Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center, and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) from OHSU, PSU, UO, OSU, Kaiser CHR. Drs. Kent Anger and Leslie Hammer attended for the OHWC. Dr. Diane Rohlman attended as the new Director of Iowa’s TWH Center. The Centers represent about 60% of NIOSH’s extramural funding, so it is their major investment.

New Affiliates: SAIF
NIOSH is looking to the future with new input on the National Occupational Research Agenda. The Total Worker Health (TWH) research agenda is being formulated and the new Affiliate program is expanding. Most recently, SAIF was named as a NIOSH TWH Affiliate, the first workers’ compensation insurance carrier to be named an Affiliate. SAIF joins NASA, 2 safety councils, 2 labor unions, a Department of Public Health and several Universities as NIOSH Affiliates. Only non-profit organizations need apply.

New Center on Aging
The TWH program is the fastest growing program in NIOSH, having added a large intramural (internal) program, and the first TWH Center within NIOSH was announced: The Center for Productive Aging and Work. This Center is focused on creating ‘aging-friendly’ workplaces and best practices and tools to support that goal.

Message Evolving: TWH is health protection and well-being
NIOSH Director John Howard keynoted the meeting. His remarks reinforced the focus of NIOSH on TWH. The TWH message is being refined as a focus on traditional OSH, or health protection, and well-being. The TWH program is focused on creating safe and healthy workplaces to ensure a safe, healthy and productive workforce. Wisely, NIOSH continues to increase it’s focus on burden (injuries, illnesses, fatalities), need, and impact. Every Center and grantee must report its productivity in these three domains.

Social Media: Why Wikipedia is So Important
Shown speaking is Dr. Max Lum of NIOSH (Senior Consultant, Office of the Director, e-Communication, research translation, global health). Max revealed that Google is the most frequent referring domain to NIOSH, followed by Bing and Wikipedia.

He reflected that NIOSH has 150,000 web pages and 8 million visits per year while Wikipedia has 3.4 Million articles and 8 million visits per hour. Per hour!  NIOSH authors articles for Wikipedia, and keeps them current as Wikipedia’s model is to build article through reader authoring.

SAIF agricultural safety seminars

Instructors Kirk Lloyd and Kevin Pfau.

SAIF Corporation is Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company.  For the past 20 years SAIF has been providing free Agricultural Safety Seminars throughout Oregon.  The well-attended 2014-2015 seminar series included 27 training sessions held in 18 cities and eight of the trainings conducted entirely in Spanish.

In the summer of 2014, OR FACE met with seminar organizers Kirk Lloyd, Kevin Pfau, and Chuck Easterly to discuss collaboration and intervention based on Oregon agricultural fatality data.    Kirk and Kevin have been developing the seminar curricula for many years and are also the primary English session presenters.

OR FACE along with nearly 80 farm owners and workers attended the seminar held in Clackamas on February 26.  The success of these seminars is evident in attendees returning year-after-year.  One attendee at the Clackamas seminar mentioned that she started coming the 2nd year it was offered and hasn’t missed one since.  Kirk did an exceptional job in using personal stories that combined OR-FACE agricultural data and concepts in communication across generations.  Kevin covered electrical safety and lessons learned from serious injuries.  He facilitated successful group breakout sessions in which attendees analyzed the causes of a tractor fatality and an amputation case.  Descriptions of the topics covered can be found here.

Submitted by Illa Gilbert-Jones, Oregon FACE Program Manager

 

 

Talking about genomics

Dr. Mitch Turker presents.

On Friday March 6, 2015, approximately 170 scientists gathered at OHSU for a symposium on Genomic Instability.  The event was co-sponsored by the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences, the Knight Cancer Institute, and the Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine.

Participants heard ground -breaking research from OHSU researchers including Occupational Health Science’s investigators Drs. Lloyd, McCullough, and Turker.  Each of these presentations focused on the mechanisms through which exposures to chemicals and radiation in occupational and environmental settings can lead to mutations in DNA structures that can ultimately lead to cancer.

A highlight of the event was keynote speaker, Dr. David Pellman, a Howard Hughes Investigator from Harvard University who spoke on “A new mechanism for mutagenesis”.  His investigations described evidence that catastrophic genetic events can occur in a very small subset of cells, the result of which could be the conversion of a normal cell into a tumor cell in a single step, rather than a slow multi-step progression.

There were also opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to exchange scientific ideas through a series of excellent posters.  Overall, this meeting provided an outstanding forum for a free-flow of ideas and data concerning the origins of canceer and insights into prevention and treatment.

Dr. Stephen Lloyd joins in discussion.

 

 

Dmytro Grygoryev, Ph.D., shares his poster.

Dr. Amanda McCullough presents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anu Kumari, Ph.D.,  explains her poster.

 

GOSH 2015: A success

Oregon OSHA’s Michael Wood trades notes with Kent Anger and Steven Shea.

Congratulations to ASSE Columbia Willamette Chapter, Oregon OSHA, and all of the sponsors, exhibitors and presenters of the Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference of 2015.

What a terrific week it has been. Between the exhibit hall interactions, diverse technical sessions, forklift challenge, O[yes]-sponsored Student Day: wow! The Oregon OSHA Conference Staff has again demonstrated their ability to organize and facilitate a thriving event.

So what now? Put into practice some of what you may have learned in a technical session – whether it be on fall protection, ergonomics, Total Worker Health or some other topic. Continue to be involved in networking with other safety, health, and wellness professionals that you may have met through associations like ASSE Oregon and Washington Chapters, Oregon RIMS, AIHA, OSAOHN, and the Worksite Wellness Network. And…it’s not too early to think about being part of the interactive team that will begin planning GOSH 2017 later this year.

Keep in touch with us by subscribing to our monthly newsletter, and following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Mentoring Students in Science

Congratulations to Grant Thomas, of the Oregon Episcopal School. Grant recently presented the results of his study entitled “Using Drosophila melanogaster to Assess the Pathogenic Characteristics of Familial Neuropathy Target Esterase Mutations” at the Aardvark Science Expo.  This project was mentored by Occupational Health Sciences’  Doris Kretzschmar and Lizzy Sunderhaus.

In this study Grant used Drosophila to investigate how mutations in the Neuropathy Target Esterase protein that cause spastic paraplegia, ataxia, or blindness in patients interfere with the function of this protein.  Grant won 1st place in the Medicine & Health Sciences category and will now advance to the Intel Northwest Science Expo. We congratulate Grant on his efforts and success, and wish him well in his future science investigations.

Submitted by Doris Kretzschmar, Ph.D. Learn more about Dr. Kretzschmar’s Lab here at Occupational Health Sciences.

Another successful PhD graduate!

Stacey Lin poses with Drs. Stephen Lloyd (L) and Institute Director Steven Shea (R) during her PhD thesis defense.

Congratulations to newly minted PhD Stacey Lin for successfully defending her graduate thesis, which explored the mechanisms by which a potent liver carcinogen, Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), produces DNA mutations that eventually lead to cancer of the liver. She is interested in the mutagenic spectrum of AFB1 and the ability of cells to bypass and repair genetic damage. The results of Stacey’s work opens new avenues of research that will allow scientists to further probe and understand how environmental factors cause cancer, and ultimately leading to better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent cancers.

Stacey grew up in Taiwan, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Forestry from National Taiwan University. After receiving her degree, she worked as a technician at the University of Pittsburgh where she grew to enjoy molecular biology in the lab of Dr. Tawbi. She came to Portland in 2010 to enter the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at OHSU, where she joined the laboratories of Stephen Lloyd and Amanda McCullough. Her work with Dr. Lloyd focused on DNA repair enzymes known as glycosylases and polymerases. When not in a lab, Stacey enjoys hiking, music and trying new foods from a variety of cuisines.

Kudos to Dr. Lloyd as well – Stacey is the 21st graduate student to successfully complete a PhD program under his mentorship.

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