Thursday, December 8th, will enter the record books as the first cold winter storm of 2016 for the Willamette Valley. But that didn’t stop our Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Train-the-Trainer team from traveling to Salem for its first ever training event. Our team was made possible by, and consists of personnel from, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon SAIF, Oregon OSHA, OHSU’s Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, and the National Pesticide Information Center housed at OSU. Thanks to SAIF, and especially to Kevin Pfau, for hosting this event and for providing lunch for attendees. Although several participants had to cancel due to the weather, we still had over 20 intrepid participants who completed the course and are now qualified to train agricultural workers and pesticide handlers on the new WPS standards. Our next training will take place next week in Eugene. Future WPS training sessions are scheduled to take place in Wilsonville, Hood River, Central Point, Klamath Falls, Ontario and Pendleton. Click here for more information about Oregon Train-the-Trainer events.
Lead – a metal people have been using for thousands of years. I was introduced to industrial hygiene in graduate school with a project related to a fictitious “Vulcan lead foundry” as our professor assigned us to develop sampling plans to identify workplace lead exposures. Similarly, likely every practicing industrial hygienist has spent some time sampling for lead – whether it be targeting a specific manufacturing process, during construction work involving lead paint, at shooting ranges, or even collecting water from drinking faucets.
And here in Oregon, we are continually reminded of the existence of this oldest of identified toxic metals as it still creates potential exposure risks to our communities: whether in our air, dust or water. While lead is not particularly difficult to measure and detect, it requires knowledge, discipline, and usually resources to effectively remediate its contamination. Here at our Institute’s Toxicology and OccHealth Information Center, we are always disappointed to learn about adverse exposures to substances that we have so many decades of experience that we could have – should have – learned from.
We’ve heard a lot about community exposures through our water and air, with particular concern in the vulnerability of children exposed to lead. Today’s industries with the highest potential workplace lead exposures include construction work, most smelter operations, radiator repair shops, and firing ranges, however there are many other opportunities for specialized exposures. Often, perhaps, our problems lie in either not using the appropriately trained technical staff to make decisions about lead, or not allocating appropriate funds to mitigate the problem. For after all, lead doesn’t really go anywhere on its own.
Need more information on lead? Here’s a good start:
The Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences hosted our Fall 2016 symposium earlier this month; the event was co-sponsored by Portland State University and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC). Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Impact on Worker Health and Well-Being was among our most popular symposia yet. Almost 130 attendees from industry, government and academia joined us for discussions facilitated by researchers and industry leaders on workplace diversity.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Eden King (George Mason University), presented a talk titled “Understanding and Reducing Bias at Work” which highlighted the science behind prejudice and addressed the importance of recognizing bias when battling discrimination in the workplace.
Dr. Larry Martinez’s (Portland State University) talk, “Beyond Race and Gender: The Unique Experiences of Under-Represented and Under-Researched Employees”, emphasized the significance of allies in the experiences of minority workers.
Nichole Guilfoy’s (SAIF Corporation) presentation, “Deconstructing the Language of Wellness,” stimulated small group discussions on diversity and its role in workplace wellness programs.
Ian Jaquiss (OHSU) gave a talked titled “Workplace Health and Safety for Employees with Disabilities” which underscored that diversity initiatives must also be inclusive of those with disabilities, both visible and hidden.
Finally, Dr. Charlotte Fritz facilitated a panel discussion, where attendees raised important questions with the speakers and shared experiences from their own workplaces.
The need for diversity and inclusion is pressing as we continue to make meaningful efforts toward worker health and well-being. In all, our symposium wouldn’t have been the success it was without the thoughtful and insightful contributions of our speakers and attendees. Visit our symposium website to access webinar recordings and presentation by mid-December.
Submitted by: Rachel Matsumoto, Senior Research Assistant
I met a new friend while grocery shopping the other day: she was on a knee scooter while I was newly “graduated” to one crutch. I struck up a conversation, sharing with her that there was hope in moving ahead. We all learn – whatever our personal trials – the power of sharing with those who may empathize with our challenges. We experience the emotional power of sharing every day in our lives: at work and at play.
This conversation in passing turned into a much longer conversation and a new friendship. My friend shared how she recently lost her job shortly after being disabled. She shared with me the unkind comments expressed to her from co-workers after suffering her injury. Surprisingly to me, she worked in health and fitness. And our new relationship spurred me to yet again recognize the timeliness of my personal disabling experience and that of current discussions related to our recent election, to this week’s symposium, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Impact on worker health and well-being.
This Friday’s attendance has reached our space capacity for live attendance, although you can still join us by live webinar – or look for the recording posted on our website a week or two following the event. Follow and join us on Twitter and use the hashtag #diversityandinclusion for live event sharing. We look forward to a day of learning, sharing and helping our organizations support all community members.
Starting January 2, 2017, agricultural workers and pesticide handlers that work on agricultural establishments must be trained annually about pesticide safety and the Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Workers and handlers must be trained before they begin worker/handler tasks, EPA-approved training materials must be used, and trainers must be qualified.
Here is where the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, National Pesticide Information Center, OSU extension, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon OSHA and others play a role: many of us just returned from Yuma, AZ and Davis, CA after receiving training to become WPS Train-the-Trainer instructors. We will provide training to ensure that Oregon agricultural employers are able to comply with the new WPS rules.
Eight Train-the-Trainer events are planned in the coming months, at various locations around the state. Each full-day course is free-of-charge, and trainers will receive reference materials. Completing this course will also qualify the attendees to deliver Train-the-Trainer courses in the future.
Any certified applicator or agricultural employer is qualified to train workers, and EPA-approved training materials for workers are available online. Trainers without applicator certification/licensing must complete an EPA-approved “Train-the-Trainer” course in order to be qualified to train handlers. Although certified applicators are qualified to train handlers, they are encouraged in the new rule to complete an EPA-approved train-the-trainer course before the end of 2018.
“Handlers” are mixers, loaders, applicators, flaggers, application helpers, early-entry workers, and anyone who disposes of pesticides or unrinsed containers, and/or anyone who works on application equipment that may contain pesticide residues.
Apply here to attend a Train-the-Trainer course led by OSU.
Read all about the newly revised Worker Protection Standard in the “How to Comply” manual.
For questions about compliance with the new regulation, contact Grant Jackson at 503-986-4553.
For questions about OSU Train-the-Trainer events, contact Cameron Hughes at 541-737-6123.
Another year, another contest: the annual “Speak up. Work safe.” video contest is now open for submissions. The top three entries will take home cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500, and students will earn a matching amount for their school.
Our Institute joins other Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) contest sponsors to support Oregon high school students’ efforts to share workplace safety and health messages with their peers. Students must create a 90-second or less video that inspires young workers to do at least one thing differently to stay safe on the job. We appreciate the parents, teachers and mentors who encourage young people to create a video for this contest. And of course, we most appreciate the young people who have taken the time to participate in this contest, usually learning things about workplace safety that they hadn’t before thought about.
Over the years, we have been impressed with the creativity, humor and importance placed to this topic. Watch previous years’ winners. Video judging is based on the appeal of message for teen workers and safety educators, overall production value, and if the “speak up, work safe” theme is used effectively. Entries for this year’s contest must be received by February 1, 2017.
Learn more by reading the press release and visiting the O[yes] contest website. Are you a safety and health professional or educator who would like to be part of the team supporting this contest? Contact O[yes].
If you happen to be attending this week’s American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, stop by and see us! While we don’t promise chocolate, we’re happy to share research, resources and toolkits from the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.
“Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health” is the theme of APHA 2016, the largest public health gathering of the year. Find us in the exhibit hall at Booth 400.
Dr. Leslie Hammer has recently been awarded a Department of Defense grant to develop and deliver a Total Worker Health® (TWH) intervention to improve the safety, health, and well-being of service members in the Oregon National Guard, as well as their families. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), TWH® is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.
Toward these aims, the Oregon Military Employee Sleep and Health (MESH) study will 1) train supervisors to support service members in their units around work-life stress and sleep health and 2) promote sleep health via sleep monitoring and individual feedback.
Workplace strain has been estimated to cost up to $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare expenses, while one of the biggest stress factors – work-life stress – can cost up to $24 billion. Additionally, common sleep disorders have been estimated to cost the U.S. workforce more than $200 billion a year,3.
Dr. Hammer and her team believe that these adverse workplace health factors have just as big an impact on service members, and the military as a whole, as they do on the private sector. Partnering with the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study team proposes that leadership can influence a foundational change in the recognition of work-life balance, sleep health, and overall well-being amongst service members and their families. With the support of the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study will provide family-supportive and sleep leadership training for all participating supervisors; and raise service members’ awareness of their own sleep health through providing individual feedback on their daily activity and sleep quantity/quality.
Dr. Hammer and her team expect positive personal and organizational effects from this study, including reduced stress and increased social support for service members. Longer term, these effects are anticipated to create an overall more supportive work environment, which will benefit the safety, health, well-being, family processes, and organizational outcomes for all service members involved.
Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., & Zenios, S. A. (2015). The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States. Management Science, 62, 608-628.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2016). Hidden health crisis costing America billions. Retrieved from http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/pdf/sleep-apnea-economic-crisis.pdf
3Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., Coulouvrat, C., Hajak, G., Roth, T., Shahly, V., … & Walsh, J. K. (2011). Insomnia and the performance of US workers: Results from the America Insomnia Survey. Sleep, 34, 1161-1171.
Submitted by: Janelle Cheung, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU
The 2016 Northwest Occupational Health Conference (NOHC) short course on “Health and Safety in the 24/7 Economy” drew industrial hygienists from around the region today at the Sheraton Portland Airport. Our Institute was pleased to provide four faculty members and researchers to present their knowledge and research as part of the event.
NOHC is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Today’s short course included the Peter Breysse keynote lecture, this year provided by our Director, Dr. Steven Shea. We all appreciate the efforts of PNS-AIHA and University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences to support continuing education relevant to our profession.
Today’s offering included academic researchers Dr. Shea and Dr. Matt Butler on the physiological impacts of shift work, body clocks and circadian rhythms, and Dr. Nicole Bowles and Dr. Ryan Olson with unique research and interventions in transit and trucking work populations. Also shared were challenges and solutions faced within organizations as shared by Dr. Michael Fischman of Intel, Doyle Anderson with Port of Portand Dredging Operations, and Isaac Howard of the University of Washington on scheduling among fire fighters.
Both presenters and attendees agreed that there remain many challenges in attempting to address safety, health and well-being risks in our economy that seems to expect and need 24/7 operations. Speakers observed, during the panel discussion, that although there are significant concerns about potential chronic health impacts of short sleep, workers really notice and care about “quality of life” issues associated with shift work. Quality of life can increase while working shift work when supervisors are supportive; but it isn’t always easy to create better working schedules. A few tips that were shared that are useful include:
- If you must rotate work shifts, attempt to allow employees time to adapt to each schedule change, and generally rotate schedules forward (maintaining adequate rest time before next shift).
- Maintain the opportunity for sleep as much as possible when determining schedules and making organizational decisions.
- Educate on sleep hygiene.
- Recognize and treat sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia.
Have you ever thought that science and practice don’t talk enough? As we develop and disseminate our evidence-based Total Worker Health interventions at the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, it’s important to understand the steps organizations are currently taking toward healthier workforces.
OHWC Center Manager, Anjali Rameshbabu attended the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) 2016 Forum last month. Geared toward sharing best practices in workplace health and well-being, HERO provides a common ground for researchers and practitioners to exchange knowledge, trade experiences, and strategize approaches for positive workforce outcomes. With our goal of dissemination at the OHWC, this event provided an opportunity to share our own resources with interested professionals.
This year’s theme at HERO was “Leading in Well-Being: Workplaces Influencing the Health of Employees, Families and Communities”. Represented by academia and industry, some captivating keynotes were from Howard Koh (former United States Assistant Secretary for Health), Vic Strecher (University of Michigan), Jack Groppel (Johnson & Johnson), Ron Goetzel (Johns Hopkins), and a vibrant group called Next Jump. Often through stories of success and challenge, sessions addressed key issues such as culture of well-being, employee engagement, leadership support, and program effectiveness. Through it all emerged an underlying push to promote engagement and purpose as facilitators of employee well-being. HERO honored Boise School and Sandia Labs for their exemplary workplace well-being efforts with C. Everett Koop National Health Awards .
In all, with its friendly space for researchers and practitioners, highlight of tools like the HERO Scorecard and practical strategies for workplace well-being, and extensive networking opportunity, the HERO conference is a highly engaging forum. Still, one issue remained conspicuously absent–occupational safety. It’s no surprise that traditionally, employee safety and wellness have remained independent efforts. From the evidence behind Total Worker Health, we now know that meaningfully improving the health status of work populations is best done by an organization-led integrated approach that addresses both, the safety and well-being of the worker. Picture the safety risks of a construction worker who hasn’t had enough sleep. Imagine the health outcomes of a nurse who regularly works double shifts. Safety and well-being go hand in hand.
For sure, forums like HERO are crucial to understanding the wellness trends in industry just as occupational safety conferences shine the light on workplace exposures and risks. As supporters of Total Worker Health, it is a reminder that we need to engage in some serious socializing—between safety and wellness departments, between an organization’s senior leaders, managers, and employees, and between research and practice. Bottom line: make social, not silo.