The Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference, held Oct. 17-19 at the Ashland Hills Hotel and Conference Center, was (as are all Oregon safety & health conferences) educational and fun. So much fun that Dede and I forgot to get photos to show you of our presentation, Fatigue at Work: Causes, Impacts and Solutions. So, you’ll just have to imagine a conference room with about 80 attendees actively engaged in a discussion on the very important topic of sleep. I think we can all relate to the topic, especially those of us who have ever had to work a non-9-to-five job……the lifestyle places increased risk on our physical and psychological health.
This year, Kerry Barnett, president and CEO of SAIF Corporation, delivered the keynote presentation. His talk centered on efforts to move Oregon forward in becoming the safest place to work in the nation. He discussed the great strides Oregon legislators made in the past to reform and strengthen the Workers Compensation (WC) System, which at that time faced enormous costs. Our WC system now enjoys among the lowest rates in the nation. Barnett pointed out that institutional memory of this fact should not be lost, otherwise legislators run the risk of making future decisions that impede or even reverse this progress.
In the exhibit hall, Dede and I enjoyed many fruitful interactions with conference attendees. We are always impressed with the interest and energy attendees express towards maintaining and improving workplace safety, health and wellbeing. Thanks to the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and Oregon OSHA for co-sponsoring this conference. And thanks to Southern Oregon ASSE for the photo (above) of Dede and I engaging with conference attendees!
This week, representatives from organizations across Oregon gathered at Portland State University for the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe) Employer Summit. SERVe, a 5-year study funded by the Department of Defense, is aimed at increasing the retention of veteran employees within organizations and improving the health and well-being of veterans and their families through supervisor training. At the Summit, members of the SERVe research team, led by Dr. Leslie Hammer of Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University, shared the progress of the SERVe project and discussed future endeavors with 65 community professionals and researchers from around the region.
Leslie Hammer, the Principal Investigator of SERVe, welcomed the audience and gave presentations about the SERVe project and the results of the supervisor training. Cynthia Mohr, Co-Investigator of SERVe and Professor at Portland State University, also gave a presentation about the Daily Family Study (DFS), a 32-day study of over 150 couples comprised of a participating Veterans from the SERVe project along with their spouses. The DFS aims to capture a better understanding of day-to-day issues that veterans and their families face, including psychological health, work-family conflict, and experiences with children. Additionally, Phoenix Rainbird demonstrated the Veteran Supportive Supervisor Training (VSST, the training product of the SERVe project).
During lunch three members of the SERVe research community shared insights about their Veteran related services and transition experiences. First, Dawn Taylor from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) discussed the nature and scope of services provided to civilian-sector Veteran employees, which include educating employers about federal law regarding deployment and subsequent reintegration into the workforce. Second, Charles “Buddy” Byrd of the United States Forest Service briefly discussed some of his and his colleague’s experiences transitioning from the military to the civilian workplace, and how important training supervisors on this transition process can be for Veterans. Finally, Michelle Kochosky, Director of the Oregon National Guard Service Member and Family Support Services gave an overview of the services that her organization provides and outlined her relationships with partner organizations all aligned around supporting service members and Veterans.
Overall the SERVe Summit was a wonderful achievement, and the SERVe team was excited to put a capstone on their work with the Oregon community concerning this specific study. The next steps they will take include further examination of the data to better understand the effects of the supervisor training on service member and spouse health and well-being, and dissemination of both the research findings and the supervisor training.
Submitted by Derek Brown and Luke Mahoney, Research Assistants
We invite you to join us at our upcoming public health movie night and screening of A Day’s Work, co-sponsored by our Institute and the OHSU/PSU School of Public Health. Mark your calendar for Wed., November 8 from 4-6 pm at OHSU’s Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB 1A001) to watch this impactful documentary, and join us in discussion with producer Dave DeSario. This free event is open to all faculty, students, staff and community members. RSVP now on Eventbrite.
This 2015 documentary shares the story of 21-year old Day Davis. Ninety minutes before he was killed on his first day of work as a temporary employee, he texted a picture of himself to his girlfriend. He was excited for his future. The film shares how his sister, then 17-year old Antonia, searches for answers. A Day’s Work reveals troubling issues that led to Day’s death, and that threaten the safety and health of other American temporary workers.
Our Institute, demonstrated through the work of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program, recognizes the significant workplace risks that exist for many temporary workers. Our Institute together with the OHSU/PSU School of Public Health, join other public health institutions, colleges, and worker advocates across the nation committing to learn from this tragic and personal story. This free event is open to students, workplace and temporary worker advocates, and community members.
We hope that you will join us. Please do RSVP on the Eventbrite event page.
The Oregon Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) recently published Occupational Fatalities in Oregon Annual Report 2015.
OR-FACE annual reports include analysis of the incidents that occurred in the reporting year, with charts for industry, event, age, gender, time, month, and more. These reports also include an abstract of each case. In 2015, OR-FACE recorded 38 fatal occupational incidents resulting in worker deaths. The transportation industry had the highest number of fatalities for the year with forestry / logging and construction tied as second highest. There were 3 delayed deaths (>2 days from date of injury) in 2015. The incident for one of these cases occurred 39 years prior.
These annual reports and other resource materials have been published on the OR-FACE website since 2003 when the program began. It is hoped that better understanding of these fatal incidents may help to save the lives of other workers in similar situations.
Submitted by Barb Epstien, OR-FACE
An engaged group of epidemiologists and other occupational health and public health professionals gathered in Denver last week for the 10th annual Western States Occupational Network (WestON) meeting. The Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program (OR-FACE) and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center made presentations. The mix of “Quick Takes” presentations, panel discussions, and small group breakouts sparked lively discussions and new potential collaborations. Michael Grabell of ProPublica gave the provocative keynote – The Dismantling of Workers’ Comp.
Barb Epstien, fatality investigator/outreach specialist in the OR-FACE program gave a Quick Takes presentation about OR-FACE’s unique partnerships aimed at preventing agricultural fatalities in Oregon including our social network analysis currently underway with wine growers. The aim of the study is to identify the opinion leaders in the industry to more effectively disseminate information about equipment safety practices and innovations.
Kent Anger of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center presented as part of a panel of two NIOSH Total Worker Health® (TWH) Centers of Excellence in the West and Casey Chosewood Director of the NIOSH TWH program at NIOSH. sharing insights on how TWH can effectively improve safety, health and well-being at the workplace and help occupational health resonate with the typical public health student.
Submitted by Barb Epstien, OR-FACE
I always look forward to Fall. Leaves turn beautiful colors, early season rains quench our parched forests (and put out forest fires!) and importantly, our safety, health & wellness conference season begins.
Oregon OSHA has for many years hosted excellent safety & health conferences throughout Oregon, and this week’s Central Oregon Conference in Bend was no exception. I always have interesting and stimulating conversations with conference attendees and come away feeling more connected to the working Oregonians we serve. The workshops and classes are always top notch. And, these conferences not only refresh my daily resolve to promote safety, health & wellness in the workplace, but also in my daily non-working life. I reflected on this during my drive home (the most dangerous daily activity I engage in) and resolved to be a more mindful and safe driver. After all, taking care of one another’s safety is not just a workplace priority…..I long for the day that all drivers are conscious of this fact…..but I digress.
OR-OSHA conferences are not the only ones we attend; the list keeps growing. While I attended the Central Oregon conference, Dede Montgomery was connecting with our northern neighbors at the Washington Governor’s Safety and Health Conference in Tacoma. Next week, we’ll attend the American Heart Association Worksite Wellness Summit at the Portland Armory.
October will be a busy month, with four conferences: the Oregon Public Health Association Conference (Oct. 9, 10), the Annual Business Health Services Health and Safety Conference in Woodburn (Oct. 11), the Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference in Ashland (Oct 17-19) and the Northwest Occupational Health Conference in Spokane, WA (Oct 25-27).
And finally, our upcoming symposium, Navigating Mental Health in the Workplace, will take place November 30 at Portland State University. We encourage you attend this important event.
With Fall, the list of available health & safety conferences is long. If you haven’t attended one of these in a while, I encourage you to do so. Recharging our safety consciousness is always a good thing.
Perhaps you’ve seen or used our Health Impacts Safety meeting guides? Health Impacts Safety toolbox and safety meeting guides have been developed to support organizations integrating workplace safety, health, wellness and well-being. Each Total Worker Health™ guide can be downloaded and printed freely.
Our Institute and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center are now excited to offer A Year of Impact: a free downloadable PDF including instructions, annual topic calendar, and twelve months of topics (English and Spanish) for safety, wellness, and well-being committees, or other small teams or meetings. Our newest guides include TWH#11: What’s respect got to do with it? and TWH#12: What’s mindfulness got to do with it? Thanks to SAIF Corporation for our Spanish translations.
The complete twelve guide set now includes:
- TWH1: What’s sleep got to do with it?
- TWH2: What’s my heart got to do with it?
- TWH3: What’s diabetes got to do with it?
- TWH4: What’s the sun got to do with it?
- TWH5: What’s sitting got to do with it?
- TWH6: What’s eating got to do with it?
- TWH7:Why work when you are sick?
- TWH8: What’s stress got to do with it?
- TWH9: What’s exercise got to do with it?
- TWH10: What’s distracted driving got to do with it?
- TWH11: What’s respect got to do with it?
- TWH12: What’s mindfulness got to do with it?
Visit our Health Impacts Safety webpage to view and download the guides, and see supporting, additional material.
You can also learn more about them and other toolkits by visiting us at our upcoming conference exhibits, including Washington Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health, Central OR Occupational Safety and Health, and American Heart Association Summit in September; and Southern Oregon Occupational Safety and Health, Oregon Public Health Association, Business Health Services Safety and Health, Oregon State Association of Occupational Health Nurses, and, Northwest Occupational Health Conference in October. See all events. Whew! We hope you see you then.
It is fitting that our upcoming November 30, 2017 symposium will address mental health in the workplace. While there has long been an awareness of the importance of mental health support within the workforce, it is more recent that many safety and health professionals recognize the direct linkage between our psychological and mental health, and our ability to work safely and be healthy.
Our interests in Total Worker Health® and well-being naturally bring us into this discussion, and we look to our professional partners and experts in occupational health psychology to help us learn how to most effectively address the topic at our symposium. We hope that you will join us on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at the Smith Memorial Center at Portland State University as we address Navigating Mental Health in the Workplace: What do we know and where do we go? Through the guidance of Jennifer Dimoff, Assistant Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Portland State University, and our own Leslie Hammer with her expertise in Occupational Health Psychology and joined by a handful of advisors, we have created an agenda that we believe to be particularly innovative and appropriate.
In our own office, recently, we have been discussing the impact of so many troubling issues confronting us today – political worries, immigration concerns, hurricanes and fires – sometimes making it more difficult to get started and be productive each day. Those of us in Oregon mourn as some of our most beautiful places burn and as our friends and neighbors evacuate homes and communities. The daily smoke impacts our lungs, eyes and our emotions. And we send our thoughts to those farther away dealing with other natural disasters. Now, perhaps more than ever in recent times, we need to be aware of and learn a skill set to prevent, recognize, accommodate, treat and heal the mental health conditions impacting our workforce and ourselves.
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®.