Investigating the effects of sleep disturbance on the health of space travellers.

Dr. Steve Shea (front row, far left) and attendees of the NSBRI-NASA workshop.

We all know that adequate sleep is a necessity for good health and that exposure to chronic abnormal sleep cycles, such as that experienced by shift workers, can lead to a variety of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Now, consider the challenges that space travel poses for maintaining normal sleep. For example, astronauts on the International Space Station, instead of experiencing a 24-hour solar day, complete one solar cycle every 90 minutes! Such an unnatural environment can potentially wreak havoc on a mammalian circadian system that has evolved over millions of years to synchronize with the 24-hour rotation of the earth.

Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Director Steve Shea has been investigating how the heart and vascular system responds to disrupted sleep in the space environment. Dr. Shea has a research grant funded by NASA entitled: Identification of Cardiometabolic Vulnerabilities Caused by Effects of Synergistic Stressors that are Commonly Encountered during Space Missions. The major goal of this grant is to assess the cardiovascular system responses to exercise, postural tilt and mental stress during combined sleep loss and circadian misalignment, as occurs with space flight.

Recently, Dr. Shea participated in a workshop sponsored jointly by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) titled Sleep on Earth and in Space: Risk Factors, Health & Performance Outcomes, and Countermeasures, Sept 29-30, in Houston, Texas. The workshop goals were to: review state-of-the-art knowledge of the effects of environmental factors on sleep; review state-of-the-art knowledge of the effects of sleep or insufficient sleep on multiple physiological and psychological functions; and encourage inter-disciplinary work, including countermeasure development, on these topics.

This type of workshop will lead to new research assessing the health impact of spaceflight on astronauts, including during possible long-term missions to Mars and back, which would take over a year. Scientists want to answer the question: if achieved sleep falls below desired levels, or if circadian misalignment occurs for prolonged periods, what mitigating strategies and countermeasures for health and performance outcomes can be used?

Dr. Shea is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Nature & Science of Sleep. Check here to learn more about Dr. Shea’s research interests.


Cancer Prevention Grants for Oregon’s OSH Community

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is offering new grants through their Community Partnership Program to aid communities statewide in better understanding and addressing their cancer-related needs.  So the grants can be applied to learning about a type of cancer in the community or to interventions to prevent cancers.  A simple intervention might be to publicize the need to stop smoking in an occupational population that has a high percentage of smokers, or to get people who work outside to wear hats to prevent sun exposure.  These are just examples to get you thinking, not recommendations.

The program will provide grants and other resources to address community-identified cancer:

  • prevention
  • early detection
  • treatment
  • survivorship needs

Labor unions, trade associations, businesses, agencies are all “communities” that can apply for these grants.  You can even form your own community for the purpose of applying for one of these grants.

Three tiers of grants are available to meet the differing needs of Oregon communities:

  • Early Stage grants of up to $10,000
  • Developmental grants of up to $25,000
  • Program Advancement grants of up to $50,000

For more information, go to the Community Partnership Program website (pictured).

Hurry, the first round of letters of intent are due on October 31 – and yes there is still time as all you need at this stage is an idea – though additional rounds of this grant program will be available for 10 years.  Ten!

If you have an idea, give them a call (the number is on the website.  You will have to find an OHSU faculty sponsor but they can help you with that.  Or call a PI in the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and we can get you in touch with the program.

Register Now for Healthy Workplace Solutions

Presenters for November 7, 2014 symposium

Join us on Friday, Nov. 7 to discuss Healthy Workplace Solutions: From Research to Practice. Our annual fall symposium is co-presented by Portland State University’s Occupational Health Psychology Program, the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Occupational Health Sciences.

Top notch presenters and talks include:

  • Overview of Organizational Interventions by Lois, Tetrick, Ph.D., Director, Industrial and Organizational Psychology Program, George Mason University.
  • The Healthy Workplace Model: Evidence-Based Tools for Teams, Leaders, and a Resilient Climate by Joel Bennett, Ph.D, President, Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS), Fort Worth, TX.
  • Improving Occupational Health and Wellbeing Through Mindfulness Training: The Case of Education by Robert Roeser, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Portland State University.
  • Truck Cab Engineering Interventions to Improve Driver Sleep and Health by Ryan Olson, Ph.D., Scientist, Oregon Insitute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University.

Learn more and register now on our symposium webpage.

2015 O[yes] Video Contest Kick Off

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) announces the 2015 high school safety video contest. The theme?  Speak up. Work safe. Work shouldn’t cost you your future.

While we know many students don’t begin creating their videos until closer to the Feb. 2, 2015 deadline, it’s a great opportunity for educators, parents and employers to strategize about engaging students in this discussion. See the press release.

The contest is organized by O[yes] and sponsored by Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, local chapters of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Hoffman Construction, Central Oregon Safety & Health Association, the Labor Education and Research Center, the SHARP Alliance, Oregon Health Authority, the Construction Safety Summit, Northern Lights Theater, and SafeBuild Alliance.

Young worker safety has been identified as a top priority by all of these sponsors and partners. A number of Oregon and the Workplace Blogs have addressed young workers. Partnering organizations throughout the U.S., Canada, and beyond continue to seek and test effective training and interventions to keep our “under 25″ crowd safer and healthier at work.

What’s particularly exciting about this year’s video contest is that it parallels the unveiling of the O[yes] “new and improved” website. Check it out now for resources for young workers, employers, educators, and parents. And share the contest with high school students you know!

Things are Looking Up for Occupational Health & Safety in Southern Oregon

The annual Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference, held October 15-16, 2014, recorded the second largest attendance ever in its 24-year history, reflecting a much-improved economy in the region. Three hundred sixty six attendees, not counting exhibitors and sponsors, were treated to a variety of excellent and timely educational sessions.

Keynote speaker Anil Mathur, President and CEO of Alaska Tanker Company (ATC), Portland, set an optimistic mood for the conference. He described how ATC was able to transform a mediocre safety performance in 1999 to become the safest oil tanker company in the world: 12 years and 14 million man-hours with only one time-loss injury, a dislocated finger. His presentation outlined how ATC achieved this transformation and what they are doing to sustain safety performance by avoiding complacency that could occur in the face of such excellent performance.

Much thanks to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) and the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) for their joint effort in sponsoring this amazing conference.

Infection Control & Staying Healthy

Image credit: CDC

The current Ebola crisis in Africa is tragic. The resources, education and tools needed to effectively address this health challenge feels overwhelming and will take a huge, united effort to address.

At the same time, it is critical that we continue to remind ourselves about the importance of infection control and proper use of personal protective equipment in all that we do. For most of us in Oregon, the upcoming multitude of seasonal viruses are of much greater risk for us individually. That said, we must assist our institutions and healthcare providers in 1) identifying potential infection risks (including but not solely Ebola); and, 2) adhere to  stringent infection control best practices.

For those of us outside of patient care, it’s a perfect time to use our next safety meeting as a forum to remind employees about the basics of personal protection, regardless of whether the exposure is chemical or biological. How do you effectively wash your hands? We know most of us don’t do it often enough or effectively. Are you inspecting your personal protective equipment, including your gloves? Certainly we know that a subset of all nitrile gloves arrive with a flaw or hole. What is your sick leave policy? Remind your staff that nobody benefits when we come to work sick. Now is the perfect time to remind your workforce of all things related to staying healthy.

NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics: Ebola
CDC Safety Training Course for Healthcare Workers Going to West Africa…
CDC Guidance for Preventing Influenza in the Workplace

Oregon Healthy Workforce Center attends 1st NIOSH Symposium on Total Worker Health

The 1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker HealthTM began Monday at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD, with nearly 400 registrants. Total Worker Health (TWH) is the integration of safety and health, wellness and well-being in the workplace. Dr. John Howard (below) opened the conference with a powerful endorsement of TWH as a way to preserve personal health and reduce national health care costs, a point reinforced by research-based presentations during the 3-day symposium.

The first plenary session at the TWH Symposium was comprised of presentations of the Directors of the four NIOSH-supported TWH Centers of Excellence:
• Harvard School of Public Health Center for Work, Health, and Well-being
(pictured below is Glorian Sorensen, Director of the Harvard Center)
• University of Iowa Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence
• Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workforce (CPH-New)
• Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center

The presentations described the Centers, challenges they had faced, gaps they identified and conclusions.  The conclusions were:
* The Centers’ research exemplifies the range of approaches that can be included within the TWH umbrella
* There is a need for identifying TWH best practices across different industry groups
* The research of the Centers has provided a useful set of measures and intervention tools to guide future research and interventions

OHWC members made 12 presentations at the symposium, including one that reported on the effectiveness of team-based interventions for improving both safety and wellness or well-being (in a single intervention, the definition of TWH).  This series of presentations will be repeated (with more comprehensive analyses) at the GOSH conference on March 9-12, 2015 at Portland’s Oregon Convention Center. Members who presented at the Symposium are shown below.

The Oregon Healthy WorkForce Center (OHWC) is an affiliation of units of the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, University of Oregon, Kaiser Center for Health Research, and Oregon State University.

The Symposium concludes today, October 8.  All or most presentations will be posted on the NIOSH website in the future.

OR-FACE Publishes More Toolbox Talk Guides

Safety communication is an integral part of maintaining an injury prevention culture.  Its implementation can be in a variety of methods such as warning labels, safety trainings and meetings, hazard alerts and informal communications between supervisors, workers, and co-workers.  In her ~30 years of experience as a safety and health professional, Illa Gilbert-Jones, program manager of the Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program, has learned that increasing the level of interaction between supervisor and workers about safety, positively influences safe behaviors. Moreover, if the interaction is about real world, relatable events, the impact can be significant.

Toolbox talks are a common form of safety communication, especially in construction but they have been used as daily pre-shift meetings in general industry.  OR-FACE has created several toolbox talk guides and recently published four.   These two-page documents are based on information gathered from Oregon fatality investigations.  One side of the toolbox talk is a simple line drawing for viewing from a distance and for ease in understanding the key elements of the incident.  At the bottom of the line drawing are key actions to prevent a similar incident.  On the other side, are instructions for leading the toolbox talk, a narrative of the incident, bulleted items that reiterate the key prevention actions and a list of questions to facilitate a discussion on current practices, unsafe conditions, and commitment to an  action plan.

The overarching goal of these toolbox talk guides is to provide supervisors/leaders with documents to increase interaction and positively influence safe behaviors. The format uses evidence-based safety communication principles and real-world (Oregon) relatable events.

Occupational Health Sciences Presents to MLAC

Dr. Steve Shea (below) presented copies of the 2012-2013 biennial report of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health & Science University to Oregon’s Management Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) and briefly outlined the Institute’s overall program, on September 19.   Dr. Shea is Director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, or Occ Health Sci.  Copies of the Annual Report and other publications can be found on the Institute website.

Following Dr. Shea, Dr. Kent Anger, Associate Director for Applied Research at Occ Health Sci and Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC), a NIOSH Center of Excellence in Total Worker HealthTM, broadly outlined the dissemination strategy of the OHWC and the Institute. He asked MLAC for help in identifying candidates from management and labor to join a partnership to develop that strategy into an implementation plan that will scale throughout Oregon.

AHA Worksite Wellness Summit on TWH a Success

The American Heart Association Worksite Wellness Summit was held yesterday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland where over 300 participants learned about effective tools and techniques for improving health, safety, wellness and wellbeing – Total Worker Health.  Oregon Health & Science’s Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences was the presenting sponsor supporting the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s Total Worker HealthTM (TWH) theme, also the Summit’s theme.

Dr. Steve Shea presents at the Worksite Wellness Summit convened by the American Heart Association of Oregon.

The Summit was keynoted by Renee Coombs of SAIF, Oregon’s largest workers’ compensation insurance company, who described her corporation’s transition to TWH which she described as continually changing and growing in her comments on the panel that followed her keynote.  Brian Passon led the panel.

After a physical activity break and lunch, the meeting broke into  sessions on workforce wellness initiatives and strategies – and a session on establishing TWH programs in your companies led by Dede Montgomery (pictured) of Occupational Health Sciences and Deb Fell-Carlson of SAIF.

The meeting ended with energizing talks by Dawn Robbins on diversity to empower wellness programs (looking thoughtfully to the future), Michaelle Davis on Campbell Global’s approach to Wellness (offering her help to others) and Evin Cole on the power of positive thinking (with examples of turning negative messages into positive ones).

Interspersed with these interesting and interactive presentations were opportunities to interact with dozens of vendors who provided resources on TWH and wellness to the attendees (below).

Fred Berman, Kent Anger, and Leslie Hammer at the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences exhibit

And it should be said that AHA knows how to put on a meeting – two activity breaks and the healthiest breakfast (below – granola, fruit and yogurt) and lunch options ever.  Meeting coordinators take note!  Congratulations to Lanette Trickey and the coordinating committee of the American Heart Assocation Worksite Wellness Summit bringing an energizing and compelling series of presentations on September 17, 2014.

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