Fruits of the eclipse

Image credit: OHSU

Image credit: OHSU

The eclipse added so much to the morning for those of us at or near the path of totality. It brought coworkers together, many who were encouraged to take some time to go outside and watch the impending darkness. Together we donned eclipse glasses – smiled, shouted, and in some cases cried: amazed by this natural occurrence. Others stayed home in order to avoid the traffic snarls that never really seemed to materialize, and were rewarded with the opportunity to rejoice with family and friends during this rare event.

The eclipse also brought long lines to car rental agencies, especially after the eclipse when cars were delayed in their return. Perhaps the drivers caught the totality traffic aftermath. Or maybe these out-of-towners simply decided to add a few more hours to enjoy the bounty of our state.

Although I was delayed for over an hour while waiting for my work-related rental car yesterday, I tried to tell myself that every moment is an opportunity. As I took that deep breath and reminded myself that life is full of things that disrupt our plans, many far more serious than waiting longer than desired for a rental car, a magic few minutes unfolded. And what I learned – in a carload of four, a driver and three of us hoping to find a rental car at a nearby branch office – is that if you talk about work, people instinctively understand Total Worker Health. No definition needed: they get it.

My driver – I’m great on faces, not so good on names, so let’s call him Mark – a long time employee for this car agency, shared how he’d logged more than a million miles without as much as a ticket or fender bender in his entire driving career. Mark immediately jumped into sharing what he’s learned over the years: about the risk of long driving shifts and companies, many who do exist today, who pay no attention to whether or not workers have enough time to sleep adequately before a next scheduled shift. Without me asking, Mark talked about how much the branch supervisor creates their culture: one of appreciation and respect. And how much he loves his job and would not go anywhere else. In the front seat, oh let’s call her Mary, was a retired nurse. Mary volunteered to tell us about how after one particular 12-hour shift she arrived home only to realize she had no memory of the hour drive she had just finished. It frightened her as she realized the toll these long shifts, followed or preceded by a commute, were taking on her health, safety and psyche, and she wondered about what errors she might make on the job and off.

We applaud those companies that advocate for all these things: increasing social opportunities, helping supervisors lead and instill a culture of safety, health and well-being, and creating policies that best protect and value our human resources. This, my friends, is Total Worker Health®.

Resources:
Oregon Healthy Workforce Center TWH Toolkits
OccHealthSci Resource Directory  topic – Total Worker Health
NIOSH Total Worker Health

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Comments

  1. Dede – I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. An organization can have all the safety/TWH policies in the word, but they can all become rather meaningless if not cultivated and supported by management. Supervisors are often the key-masters of their own workplace safety and health cultures. I love how this article fleshes out the impact supervisors can have when safety and health is a priority. Great work – and it was splendid to chat with you yesterday.

About the Author

Dede supports the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center's research, engagement and education programs. She is a certified industrial hygienist.

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