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

FullSizeRender 12

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

Lloyd lab research article recognized

R. Stephen Lloyd

Dr. Stephen Lloyd

The Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society has selected an article written by investigators in the laboratory of R. Stephen Lloyd as the Editor’s Choice, to be highlighted on the cover of an upcoming edition of the society’s journal, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. The article, “Error-Prone Replication Bypass of the Imidazole Ring-Opened Formamidopyrimidine Deoxyguanosine Adduct”, was written by Yan Sha, Irina G. Minko, Chanchal K. Malik, Carmelo J. Rizzo, and R. Stephen Lloyd.

Damage to DNA caused by reactive oxygen species promotes mutations, cancer and aging. Reactive oxygen species can be generated as a consequence of chronic inflammation, exposure to ionizing radiation, chemotherapy and other cancer-causing chemicals. In the April 2017 issue of Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, Yan Sha and coworkers at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Vanderbilt University discovered a heretofore unknown mechanism of mutation that occurs in cells. Given the importance of understanding the mutagenic potential of DNA damage generated by the reactive oxygen species and the exacting nature of the experiments reported, the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society selected this article as the “Editor’s Choice” for the April issue of Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis.

Congratulations to the laboratory of R. Stephen Lloyd for their significant achievement!

Worker Memorial Day 2017


National Safety Stand-Down May 8-12, 2017

IMG_1480Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in construction. Between 2003-2013 OSHA reported more than 3,500 deaths resulting from construction falls. In 2015 alone there were 350 fatal falls, out of 937 total construction fatalities. All those deaths were preventable.

In response to the overwhelming number of fall-related injuries and fatalities, the Construction Fall Prevention campaign was launched in 2012 by a partnership including OSHA, NIOSH, CPWR, and the NORA Construction Sector Council. The aim of the national campaign is to prevent fatal falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs.

The National Safety Stand-Down was added to the campaign in 2014 to increase awareness and participation by bringing together contractors, workers, and safety organizations to focus on preventing falls. On behalf of all our partners and stakeholders, we encourage employers, employees, and associations to participate in this year’s National Stand-Down during the week of May 8-12, 2017. Employers are encouraged to set aside time to have open discussions with employees about falls and how to prevent them. The event has an impressive track record, with thousands of companies participating across all 50 states and internationally. Last year alone, more than 130 public events were held, along with thousands of private stand-downs.

You can be part of this effort to increase awareness and reduce the number of deaths and injuries that result from work-related falls. Help us promote the fall prevention campaign and National Safety Stand-Down. It’s an excellent opportunity to make sure you’re doing everything you can to eliminate fall hazards. Let’s continue to reach out and make sure that workers safely return home to their families each day.

Join us for the 3rd annual Stand-Down event being held in Portland on Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Sheet Metal Institute. Partners in Oregon and Washington have collaborated to promote this free, 5-hour class on construction fall hazard awareness that will also include a panel of industry experts sharing useful, innovative safety tips. Click here to register for the class; and additional Stand-Down information can be found here.

Submitted by Barb Epstien,  OR-FACE Fatality Investigator/Outreach Specialist

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