Industrial hygienists flood Seattle

UW at AIHce

Marty Cohen staffs the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Department’s exhibit.

It’s a funny thing when thousands of industrial hygienists embark on a city for the national American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo! Suddenly, a profession that few people still understand, takes over. And as I attended the 2017 AIHce event earlier this month in Seattle, I was reminded how odd it is to see bunches of folks who share our sometimes odd sounding title swarming downtown.

For me and many others I know, it is the networking aspect of this conference that makes it all worthwhile. And we notice, every year, a few more folks drop out of the pack due to retirement or because they simply aren’t with us anymore. Perhaps that is why it feels more sentimental than exciting to me, as it once may have early in my career. I am, however, so happy to see younger folks joining our trade. Our Institute was pleased to join a number of others in co-sponsoring the University of Washington Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences celebration for alumni, friends and families. We appreciate the partnership we have with  so many institutions and organizations.

AIHce2017 presentation banner (1)Barb Epstien, fatality investigator/outreach specialist in the Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program and Illa Gilbert-Jones, retired OR-FACE program manager, gave a presentation during the conference. The presentation was part of the session entitled “Topics in Safety” that also included talks on workplace electrical fatalities and a study of health and safety training in vocational education programs for automotive repair.

Barb and Illa’s presentation discussed the trends and patterns shown by OR-FACE surveillance data obtained over 13 years (2003-2015). Data were analyzed by industry, occupation, event, age range, and other descriptions. Data analysis revealed that four industries in Oregon consistently have the highest number of fatalities: transportation, forestry/logging, construction, and agriculture, with transportation having the highest number of cases during the 13-year period studied. Motor vehicle accidents lead in total number of fatal cases, followed by contact and falls. Audience questions and comments indicated a high level of interest in OR-FACE’s toolbox talk guides, one of the program’s most popular outreach publications. You can find a copy of the presentation here.

And for a little Friday afternoon sappy humor – fellow industrial hygienists- what stage are you?
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New OR-FACE toolbox talk guides published

New OR-FACE Toolbox Talk.

Maintaining an injury prevention culture requires many components, and safety communication is fundamental to that goal. Safety communication can be implemented in a number of ways, including warning labels, safety training and meetings, hazard alerts, and informal, routine communications among supervisors, workers, and co-workers. In OR-FACE’s experience, increasing the level of interaction between supervisors and workers can have a positive influence on safe behaviors. Further, when the interaction is based on actual, relatable events, that impact can be significant. Toolbox talks are brief discussions typically facilitated by team leaders (e.g. crew supervisors). They provide a practical tool for engaging workers and employers in discussion about ways to improve safety practices, sharing experiences, promoting safety awareness, and ultimately, influence safe behaviors.

OR-FACE creates toolbox talks that are formatted using evidence-based safety communication principles and are based on real-world fatal events that occurred in Oregon. The guide’s front side includes a simple line drawing that can be seen from a distance by the group participating in the safety meeting. Under the drawing are bulleted key actions and recommendations for preventing a similar accident. The back side includes a narrative of the incident for the supervisor to read, along with bulleted prevention recommendations, and a list of questions intended to spark discussion about current practices, unsafe conditions, and an action plan for making improvements. OR-FACE routinely receives positive feedback on the utility of these guides and they are one of the most popular resources accessed on the OR-FACE website.

OR-FACE recently published two new toolbox talk guides, one for the construction industry and for logging/forestry. You can find all of OR-FACE’s toolbox talk guides here, including six that are translated into Spanish.

Submitted by Barb Epstien, OR-FACE

Additional Resources
OccHealthSci Resource Directory Topic: Safety Toolbox Talks

Work, Stress, and Health 2017: Oregon Healthy Workforce Center in action

From Left to Right: Center director, Kent Anger, Associate directors Leslie Hammer and Ryan Olson, and collaborator Diane Rohlman following their symposium on Total Worker Health ® Interventions.

From Left to Right: Center director, Kent Anger, Associate directors Leslie Hammer and Ryan Olson, and collaborator Diane Rohlman following their symposium on Total Worker Health ® Interventions.

The 2017 Work, Stress and Health bi-annual conference headed toward the Great Lakes last week to explore the latest research on how work lives impact the health and well-being of workers. Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed a crowd of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners June 7-10 for research presentation sessions, professional development, and networking events. The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) was well represented, both to present our own work, as well as well as to learn from collaborators and colleagues from around the world.

This year’s conference theme, “Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities” was a fitting home for some of the cutting edge research being presented by our OHWC team. Additionally, the focus of WSH on Total Worker Health coincides effortlessly with the OHWC mission of research effectiveness, collaboration, and dissemination to improve the health, safety, and well-being of workers.

The OHWC was particularly honored this year to present two dedicated symposium sessions focusing on some of our work with our large-scale interventions. The SERVe project (PI: Leslie Hammer) was featured in the symposium Support for Health and Well-Being Through Work: The Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe), chaired by MacKenna Perry. Presentations included lessons learned in recruiting large organizations by Krista Brockwood1; how veterans’ social support and financial strain impact work by MacKenna Perry2; work-family conflict as experienced daily by both veterans and their spouse/partners by Wylie Wan3; and effectiveness of the supervisor training at the center of by project by Leslie Hammer4.

On Saturday, the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center was featured in a symposium, chaired by Kent Anger, Effectiveness of Total Worker Health® Interventions and Dissemination Strategies of the Oregon Healthy Workforce. Leslie Hammer presented findings from the Safety and Health Improvement Project (SHIP)5, a project with construction workers. Ryan Olson presented findings from the COMPASS program for home care workers6, and Diane Rohlman demonstrated an effective safety intervention for young workers in the PUSH project7.

Professional development takes a prominent role at Work, Stress, and Health, and the Center contributed to the dialogue. Layla Mansfield and Leslie Hammer served as professional development panelists in “How did you get that job?”8 and “What Employers Want,”9 respectively. Janelle Cheung presented in a symposium focused on successfully mentoring graduate students, offering her perspective as a successful mentee10.

The SERVe Symposium Session: Discussant Mina Westover (Far left) offers her perspective and insights on the research presented by panelists (seated, L to R), MacKenna Perry, Wylie Wan, Leslie Hammer, and Krista Brockwood

The SERVe Symposium Session: Discussant Mina Westover (Far left) offers her perspective and insights on the research presented by panelists (seated, L to R), MacKenna Perry, Wylie Wan, Leslie Hammer, and Krista Brockwood

OHWC also had several other successful presentations and posters by Kent Anger11, David Hurtado12,13, and Anjali Rameshbabu14. The 2017 bi-annual Work, Stress, and Health Conference was a  rousing success, both for disseminating out own findings, as well as learning about the exciting work being done by colleagues from around the world. We already look forward to 2019!

Submitted by Sarah Haverly, MS, Doctoral Student and Graduate Research Assistant, Portland State University


  1. Recruitment of Organizations in a Large-Scale Intervention Study. Krista Brockwood, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Leslie B. Hammer, PhD; Phoenix Rainbird, BS
  2. Social Support, Income Resources, and Outcomes: A Test of the Work–Home Resources Model. MacKenna L. Perry, MS, Portland State University, OR; Leslie B. Hammer, PhD; Janelle H. Cheung, PhD; Todd Bodner, PhD; Kathleen F. Carlson, PhD
  3. Daily Work–Family Experiences and Well-Being of Employed Service Members and Their Partners. Wylie Wan, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Sarah N Haverly, MD; Jackie Schroeder, MS; Leslie B. Hammer, PhD; Cynthia D. Mohr, PhD; Todd Bodner, PhD
  4. Supervisor Training Effectiveness and Health and Work Outcomes Among a Sample of Service Members. Leslie B. Hammer, PhD, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Wylie Wan, PhD; Cynthia D Mohr, PhD; Krista Brockwood, PhD; Todd Bodner, PhD
  5. Safety and Health Improvement Program (SHIP). Leslie B. Hammer, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Donald M. Truxillo, PhD; Amy C. Pytlovany, MS
  6. The COMPASS Total Worker Health® Program for Home Care Workers: Impact and Dissemination. Ryan Olson, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Kelsey N. Parker, PhD; Jennifer M. Hess, PhD; Sharon V. Thompson, MS; Kristy L. Rhoten, BA; Miguel Marino, PhD
  7. The Role of Online Forums in an Occupational Safety and Health Training for Young Workers. Diane S. Rohlman, PhD, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; Megan Parish, MPH; Diane L. Elliott, MD; Ginger Hanson, PhD
  8. How Did You Get That Job? Lessons Learned From Academic and Applied Job Searches. Panelist: Layla Mansfield, MS
  9. What Employers Want: Preparing for Occupational Health Jobs. Panelist: Leslie Hammer, PhD
  10. A Mentee’s Perspective in Launching a Successful Career. Janelle Cheung, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
  11. Total Worker Health® Intervention for Construction Workers Improves Safety, Health, Well-Being. W. Kent Anger, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Jason Yano, MS; Katie Vaughn, BA; Bradley Wipfli, PhD; Ryan Olson, PhD; Magali Blanco, BS
  12. Differences in Perceived Social Support for Safe Patient Handling by Gender Among Healthcare Workers. David A. Hurtado, ScD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Alejandra Garfias; Anjali Rameshbabu, PhD; Rachel A. Matsumoto, MS; Leslie B. Hammer, PhD
  13. Applying of Social Network Analysis to Identify Safety Champions. David A Hurtado, ScD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Yaritza Rodriguez, BSc; Samuel A. Greenspan, MPH; Lisset Dumet, MBA
  14. Hello Research, Meet Practice: Plans for Action to Disseminate Total Worker Health®. Anjali Rameshbabu, PhD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; Rachel A. Matsumoto, MS; Dan Austin, MS; W. Kent Anger, PhD; Leslie B. Hammer, PhD

Other Resources
Total Worker Health topic page, OccHealthSci Resource Directory
OHWC Toolkit Kiosk

Making a difference on sleep apnea

Slide from the SAIF Agriculture Safety Seminar

Slide from the SAIF Agriculture Safety Seminar

Here is a story we think you need to see:

Lives are being changed by sharing health and safety messages supported by Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences research. During lunch at the 2013 Spring Symposium, I asked Dr. Steven Shea, the institute’s director, how best to persuade SAIF’s Agricultural Safety Seminar attendees to seek treatment for sleep apnea. From his work on sleep disorders, Steve suggested they self-diagnose by seeing if they have four of five indicators for sleep apnea: male, over 40, overweight, daytime sleepiness, and loud or frequent snorer. It worked! Every year since, farmers (and their spouses) have thanked me for providing that information and have shared stories of how their health, and their lives, have improved.

Kevin Pfau
Senior Safety Management Consultant
Safe and Healthy Workplace Center
SAIF Corporation

Fall hazard training offered in Spanish

OSHA Spanish PosterWe know that falls are the number one cause of injury and death in construction. Perhaps less known, however, is the disproportionate rate of work-related injuries and illnesses that occurs among Latino construction workers. A study by CPWR found that a combination of language barriers, a lack of Spanish language resources, and lack of culturally appropriate Spanish language training contribute to a 30% greater injury and illness rate than that of their fellow construction workers.

OSHA Spanish PosterOR-FACE’s partners at the Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center at the University of Washington offers a variety of safety resources and training in Spanish including 5-hour training on fall hazard awareness and prevention, all free of charge. A Spanish-language class being held at the Sheet Metal Institute in Portland on June 23. The class includes hands-on demonstrations, case studies, and time for questions and answers. You can register for the class and check out their additional free resources here. Our goal is to help avoid falls at work and return home safely at the end of the day.

Contributed by Barb Epstien, OR-FACE

Cannabis use a growing concern of employers


Nicole P. Bowles, Ph.D.

Cannabis (marijuana) use is on the rise. Twenty-nine US States have legalized medical cannabis and 7 (including Oregon) have approved recreational use. Thus, cannabis use in the workforce is a growing concern of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, and Nicole P. Bowles, Ph.D., who works in the research group of Steven A. Shea, Ph.D., wants to better understand this issue.

Despite decreased stigma and touted health benefits, including improved sleep and reduced pain, recent data suggest that use of cannabis or cannabis components result in no significant reduction in disease symptoms. On the other hand, some evidence demonstrates high levels of cannabis use can increase the risk of psychoses, among other risks. As a result, cannabis remains a schedule one drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (i.e., a substance considered to be highly addictive and without medical benefit). However, many clinical studies may fail to show a reduction in symptoms because they do not consider the method of ingestion of cannabis and the concentrations of its varied active components. Thus, we need a clearer understanding of how and why people consume cannabis, including edible products, vape pens and the traditional smoked cannabis.

Dr. Bowles has developed an online survey of people who use cannabis for their sleep problems to document their preferences for cannabis species, concentration, time of use and route of ingestion. “We should be evaluating how users select a particular strain and concentration for their treatment” says Dr. Bowles. “Users are becoming increasingly knowledgeable in this quickly evolving field.” Nicole aims to see where consumers obtain this knowledge, how they use it, and if cannabis is subjectively improving their sleep.

Beyond the known negative psychoactive effects, occupational health professionals remain concerned over possible workplace impairment issues related to the use of cannabis. Dr. Bowles’s survey also seeks to determine how the time and method of ingestion impacts daytime sleepiness. She hopes that her findings will be used towards future education of both users and employers to reduce injuries in the workplace.

Dr. Bowles is supported by a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Former Lloyd/McCullough laboratory intern honored


Stuti Garg displays her research findings at the 2017 ISEF in Los Angeles, CA

Stuti Garg, a former student intern in the laboratory of Drs. Stephen Lloyd and Amanda McCullough, won an award during the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, CA. Here is what Stuti said:

Hi Dr. McCullough & Dr. Lloyd,

This week I had the honor of attending the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). There were about 1800 students competing from over 75 countries, who were the best of their regions. Specialists from all over the world came to LA to judge different categories at the fair. I won 2nd place in the category of Microbiology!

ISEF also is partnered with the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, which has discovered minor planets, and they award all 1st and 2nd place winners with a minor planet! My name will be sent to the International Astronomical Union for naming rights of an asteroid.

I have had such an incredible experience over the past 2 years researching in the lab and presenting at science fairs. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you, and I would not be where I am today without your guidance and support.

Congratulations to Stuti for such an amazing achievement!

Occupational health spans the ocean again


Site visit group photo.

I feel lucky to have another opportunity to trade notes with our collaborators from Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) through OHSU Global Southeast Asia.

This week, Karin Drake, an occupational health nurse, and I are in the midst of providing another week of training in Bangkok involving BDMS occupational health nurses, safety staff, and occupational health medicine physicians.

As we experienced last year, collaborative learning allows us to share our knowledge and U.S. occupational health best practices, with our colleagues in Thailand. I am certain that I learn as much as I teach during these rich interactions.


Class participants prepare for group presentation.

This year’s advanced version of the course focuses more specifically on health hazards, especially those inhaled, and best practices using spirometry and medical evaluation, as well as more detail on air monitoring, respiratory protection and fit-testing.  Like last year, we had the opportunity to perform a site walkthrough so that the participants can practice their skills in identifying hazards, using relevant information to improve medical evaluations, and recommend workplace controls and practices to lower worker health risks. Total Worker Health-related conversations are also a natural discussion because of the occupational medical check up process used throughout Thailand.

Karin and I send a huge thank you to those supporting these efforts to collaboratively work toward health improvement.


Demonstrating spirometry coaching.

Symposium recordings have been posted

Spr symposiumFor those of you who either missed or would like to revisit the talks given at our recent symposium, “Creating a Positive Work Environment for Safety and Health”, webinar recordings are now available here. Enjoy!

Safety as a practice, not just a motto

OHSU Safety Fair for Safety Break

OHSU Safety Fair for Safety Break

The last two weeks have been filled with events and initiatives supporting workplace safety and health. We acknowledge all of the organizations, owners, safety and health professionals, and workers who dedicated time and energy to renew their efforts to provide all workers safe and healthy workplaces.

We honor:

  • SafeBuild Alliance and the support of the construction community for their sponsorship of the kickoff to Safety Week at the Oregon Forestry Center, and metro-wide proclamations within cities for construction safety.
  • The sponsorship of Oregon Safety Break by Oregon OSHA, and all of the organizations that participated in an event or initiative supportive of this day. We offer a specific shout out to OHSU’s Environmental Health and Radiation Safety on the success of their OHSU-wide safety fair to celebrate Safety Break 2017.
  • The National Stand Down for Safety, including events throughout Oregon.
  • Our successful May 11 symposium on Creating a Positive Work Environment for Safety and Health (recorded webinars will be available soon).

But let us not forget that to be successful in our efforts, every day counts. And every worker counts. My 23 year old daughter recently suffered a repetitive motion injury at work. Although diagnosed by an occupational medicine physician, and prescribed modified duty and therapy, her worker compensation claim was denied at 5 weeks post injury, and she was told she would need to report to her regular job the next day. Upon consultation with her supervisor, she decided to quit her job last month so she could continue to allow body parts to heal, rather than suffer an injury that could haunt her for life. This young worker acknowledged how much worse it would be if she had a family to support or other needs that would preclude her from quitting a job over an injury.

So what is the lesson here?

  1. Provide workplace assessments to ensure that all workers are not doing precarious or potentially injury-producing tasks (look at grips, strength requirements, lifting, posture, repetitive jobs, exposures, etc.).
    1. Every organization is different but assessments can effectively be performed by safety committees; health and safety leaders and officers; work teams; supervisors.
  2. Look at your data: not just injuries, but near misses, employee interviews, termination and resignation interviews.
  3. Look at what is considered industry best practice for the jobs workers are doing. Should workers be repeating the same job or could jobs be modified or diversified? Is there a device or control that could improve the job and lessen the risk of injury?
  4. What is the attitude that your workforce holds regarding injuries (“co-workers are faking it,” or “comp claims are always denied so there’s no reason to report.”)

For after all, let’s look at the human and economic costs of workplace losses. Prevention is not only cheaper every time, but it is the right thing to do.




2017 Safety Stand-down

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Ryan Olson presents at May 11 symposium on Creating a Positive Environment for Safety and Health.

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