Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences

Dr. Steven Shea, Director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, and OHSU’s Dr. Dan Dorsa, address staff, partners and supporters to recognize the new name of the organization formerly known as CROET, and to summarize the Institute’s continued work and mission.

Visit us adjacent to the Richard Jones Hall at Oregon Health & Science University.

Talking TWH at the WSU School of Nursing

Dr. Kent Anger, Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, presented “What the Research Literature Tells us about Total Worker HealthTM (TWH) and what the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center is Doing About It” at the Washington State University (WSU) School of Nursing in Spokane, Washington (pictured right).  The WSU School of Nursing is led by Dean Patricia Butterfield, a CROET (now Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences) ‘graduate’ who also worked on a project with SAIF during her education at OHSU/CROET.  In addition to state-of-the-art nurse training programs, the WSU SON conducts research and has a strong community engagement program emphasizing their practice-oriented focus through partnerships with educational institutions and community stakeholders.

Dr. Anger’s presentation described the Total Worker Health intervention literature and the effectiveness of those interventions in reducing multiple important risk factors for injuries and chronic diseases through integrated programs.  He emphasized the importance of TWH in ‘bending the health care cost curve’ through workplace safety and health, wellness and well-being – TWH – interventions that are real-world effective.   A key message in Dr. Anger’s talk was the need to scale TWH intervention programs through effective dissemination.

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) is both a regional and a national resource that is building, evaluating and disseminating TWH interventions.   For those interested in getting started on TWH programs today, CPH-NEW starter toolkits are now available.  The OHWC is developing an intervention and tool dissemination program named Safe Oregon, Healthy Oregon (SOHO) through philanthropic donations; contact Dr. Anger or Brittany Sale at the OHSU Foundation to support this effort.  The OHWC’s Partner’s Luncheon in March will focus on dissemination.  The Luncheon is open to Oregon business, labor and government participants who want to partner with the OHWC to create the best dissemination program for Oregon (as a model for all states); there is no cost to attend (complete a brief survey to reserve a seat).

Also attending Dr. Anger’s  talk at Washington State University were members of the NIOSH Spokane office that has a focus on TWH in mining.  The potential for collaborations among the participants on collaborative TWH projects was discussed after the talk in a lunch hosted by Dean Butterfield.

Centered at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center is composed of scientists from OHSU, Portland State University, University of Oregon and Oregon State University.  The Kaiser Center for Health Research oversees research design issues as part of the OHWC.

Just How Vulnerable are New Employees?

Photo Credit: NIOSH

Yesterday during Oregon’s Construction Advisory Committee Meeting, we spent some time discussing a construction-related fatality that happened earlier this week in Seattle. While all workplace fatalities are unsettling and tragic – one point that was ever so striking was the report that the worker who died was on his first day at work.

Those of us in the safety field have heard statistics demonstrating the higher risk of getting hurt within the first six months of work. And of course, it’s not hard to see why inexperienced or young workers might fall into this mix. Earlier this week we learned about another serious workplace event involving a Portland teen who was assaulted while working alone at closing time. Without knowing details of this case, but having parented a teen worker with identical work responsibilities – I would expect that this teen didn’t have any substantial training about how to prevent or handle an emergency. I applaud our neighbors in Washington State who established a rule prohibiting those under 18 – inexperienced workers – from working alone after 8 pm.

What is it that makes young and new workers so vulnerable? Just think back to your first job or the first day at your current job. Even if you have the experience of your profession, consider all of the site-specific or job-specific details you may not know: how to dial out in an emergency, what to do in an emergency, what PPE to use and where to get it….the list is endless. And for workers engaged in potentially dangerous work – construction, logging, fisheries – one small mistake can be tragic.

Is your new employee safety training effective? Does it address key hazards of the job, what to do in emergencies and how to use the required personal protective equipment? Does it express your organizations policies, expectations and rights for workers to refuse unsafe work? Are employees exposed to effective safety training prior to being exposed to work hazards? While we know that safety training is a continual process, how do we go about ensuring that new and inexperienced workers aren’t being put in situations they are unprepared for? Certainly, appropriate on-the-job training and supervision are key.

Many of the suggestions for training young workers are appropriate when working with new employees: here’s an example of of an employer tip sheet from O[yes]. One thing we do know, is that most young and new workers want to make a good impression and do good work. It’s up to us to make sure that we help them feel comfortable asking questions, and go out of our way to discover methods that work for our workforce for safe discussions of critical safety needs and expectations. Do you have good tips or resources for new employee safety training and information?

CROETweb topics: Young Workers & Health and Safety Programs: Training for New Workers



Oregon FACE Hires Experienced Safety and Health Professional

Dr. Ryan Olson, Oregon FACE Principal Investigator, and Illa Gilbert-Jones await the tram.


We’d like to introduce Illa Gilbert-Jones, the newest team member at Oregon FACE!  Illa is a Certified Safety Professional and Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 25 years of experience working in a variety of industries.  She has most recently spent 7 years as a senior safety consultant for SAIF Corporation (Oregon’s largest workers compensation insurance company).

We’re very excited about the many talents Illa will bring to the OR-FACE program, but are especially pleased with what she will bring to FACE fatality investigations (both independent and in collaboration with OR-OSHA) and to outreach efforts in Oregon’s highest risk industries.

Illa is an active member of the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

The Oregon Occupational Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) Program is a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sponsored program designed to prevent occupational fatalities through surveillance, targeted investigation, assessment, and outreach associated with traumatic work-related deaths in Oregon.

Oregon FACE Investigation Reports and Publications

Wishing you Good Health and Well-Being

A CROETweb Flashback

It’s rather amazing that CROETweb has been around for 17 years! CROETweb even pre-dated Google. And – CROETweb as an early developer – was the place to be when searching for workplace safety and health info, not just because it was informative, but because there were few comprehensive websites addressing workplace safety and health.

Fast forward to today and we know that CROETweb is not the only game in town. We strive to continue to provide updated content that is most useful to you, with easy referrals to other great websites and resources.

As we wind up 2013 and look ahead to changes for us as we take on our new name, we thought we’d share a bit of what we know about CROETweb. Our top topic pages at CROETweb consistently remain Safety Toolbox Talks, Safety Inspection Checklists (subtopic within topic: General Industry and Manufacturing) and Hospitality- Hotel, Restaurant and Kitchen. About 90% of you reside in the U.S., followed by highest numbers of visitors from Canada, UK, Australia and India. About 67%  of you get to CROETweb from Google, while 13% of you have us bookmarked or directly input our link. We need to thank our friends and partners for referring our remaining visitors, with Safety Awakenings, BUSCA-TOX, OHSU, SAIF, OSHA, NIOSH and Washington L&I leading the way.

We appreciate all of you for supporting CROETweb and the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences. And as always, let us know what we can do to make this site of greatest use to you. Perhaps you wonder…will we continue to call the site CROETweb once we officially become the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences? Stay tuned!

How you will know if Oregon is bending the health care cost curve?

Dr. John McConnell of OHSU’s Department of Emergency Medicine is the person who leads the evaluation of health care data for Oregon in the affordable care act era. He spoke at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences (formerly CROET) this week.

Oregon is testing a new model of health care delivery named Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) that is funded by a $1.6B grant from the Department of Health and Human Services.  Oregon’s pledge is that it guarantees to reduce the rise in Medicaid health care costs from 5.4% per year as it is now, to 3.4% per year.  This is called ‘bending the curve’ and it is experiments like this that are designed to change the model for delivering health care in ways that will save money … and if we don’t bend that curve by 2017 … Oregon has to pay back some of those grant funds to the federal government.  And the CCOs get paid less if they fail to produce the changes, so they have an incentive to cut costs.  Dr. McConnell and his team are collecting the health care cost data to answer that question.  Oregon’s 16 new CCOs in Oregon are identified in the map of Oregon in the picture below.

How will coordinated care organizations bend the curve?  By ‘thinking different.’  Here are 4 facts about the Oregon experiment(s) from Dr. McConnell’s presentation:

  • Each of the 16 CCOs is independent so Oregon is essentially conducting 16 different experiments under the CCO umbrella.
  • CCOs have the freedom to pay for services that would have been refused by regular Medicaid – like for Emergency Medical Technicians (paramedics) to treat a non-urgent problem when they arrive at a person’s home instead of bringing the patient to the Emergency Room where the same treatment is many times more expensive but no more effective.  Before CCOs(and anywhere outside Oregon), the paramedics had to take the person to an Emergency Room to be paid for their services.
  • Oregon’s $1.6B CCO experiment is the largest in the affordable care act’s portfolio of grants
  • There are over 30 quality measures (called metrics) to be sure that health care effectiveness and satisfaction does not decline under this CCO experiment.  If the quality metrics decline, the federal government will shut down the experiment in the CCO where it was failing to protect the patients.

To learn more about this CCO experiment and how the quality metrics play out, click here to go to Dr. McConnell’s website.

Dr. McConnell’s talk was co-sponsored by the Oregon Health Workforce Center (OHWC), because the OHWC is playing a part in bending the curve by developing and disseminating prevention programs designed to improve health and safety and wellness and well-being in industry where half of the 3+ million Oregonians work.  The OHWC is federally funded, but not funded by the large grant to Oregon.  Nonetheless, the OHWC is one of many organizations that can play an important and possibly pivotal role in bending the curve.

What’s New at the Toxicology Information Center

The entrance to our TIC and outreach area. Look for our new name here soon!

Fall is the season of change: summer’s heat and dryness yields to cool, foggy dampness as the sun lowers its arc over the horizon. And with the changing weather comes a shift in the types of calls received by our Toxicology Information Center (TIC). As people seal up their homes and workplaces from the cold and wet, we begin to hear more about indoor air quality (IAQ) issues; in particular, ailments associated with stuffy air and mold growth.

Here are a few tips to avoid these problems: first, have your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system checked and maintained annually by a qualified specialist. Clogged or dirty filters, standing water, and poorly functioning combustion units are a primary source for IAQ complaints. Moreover, poorly functioning HVAC systems can become a dangerous source of carbon monoxide, which is an insidious and far too common cause of serious illness, debility and death every Fall and Winter in the United States.

Second, now is a good time to check for structural problems that can lead to dampness and water intrusion into the home or workplace. Standing water in basements and subfloor areas, increased humidity from poor air exchange (kitchens and bathrooms in particular), and water-soaked structural materials are all good places for mold to grow. Mold is a problem of dampness, so correction of these problems will prevent ailments associated with indoor mold growth.

And finally, take care of your own health and well being during this time of decreasing daylight. Now is a good time to get your flu shot. And seasonal affective disorder is a common, but treatable ailment that reduces our happiness and productivity. Get adequate exercise, eat a healthy diet, make sure you get enough sleep, and if necessary, use a ‘happy light’ to increase your sense of well-being and reduce depression.

Do you have questions for our TIC or Occupational Health and Safety Information Center? Contact the TIC Director, Fred Berman, Ph.D. You can also submit questions directly though CROETweb  or to Dede Montgomery.

CROETweb topic: Indoor Air Quality
CROETweb topic: Mold

Climate Change as a Public Health Issue

Jeff Bethel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Many within the public health community are discussing climate change. We see this in communications shared by the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, American Public Health Association, and as recently expressed by Time Magazine in an article Rebranding Climate Change as a Public Health Issue.

Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division sponsored a well-attended talk this week on How does climate change impact public health? Speakers Kathie Dello from the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, and Jeff Bethel, Ph.D., from Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences shared findings and data. Access this talk as a recorded webinar here.

While there are knowledge and research gaps, they reported that environmental scientists and the public health community should prepare for significant impacts in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Increases in summer temperatures and in extreme weather events will not only impact the public, these changes will also significantly affect outdoor workers, firefighters, and emergency responders. Increases in biological allergens, air pollution and infectious diseases will pose particular concerns to vulnerable populations, but they will certainly impact all those who work in public health and healthcare.

While this remains a significant environmental issue, with wide impacts to various species of plants and animals – perhaps to some, the specific talking points about people make the threats feel closer to home. And it builds individual commitment to take steps to reduce the consequences.

Learn more about the Climate Change and Public Health Program at Oregon’s Public Health Division.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Climate and Health Program
Environmental Protection Agency – Climate Change and Human Health
Oregon Environmental Council – Climate Protection


Employment Relationships and Worker Well-being

Today’s (November 15) Symposium, co-sponored by the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences (formerly CROET) and the Portland State University Occupational Health Psychology program, dealt with the changing employment relationship (job loss, downsizing, working under contract) and worker well-being.

Speakers addressed the improving employment climate in urbanized areas contrasted with the persistent unemployment in the more rural areas of Oregon, the impact of job insecurity on health and steps to reduce those health effects, relationships with employees and steps to build positive relationships with employees, and best practices to use with temporary and contract workers.

The symposium, held at Portland State University’s University Inn, will be available for review on the CROET’s Outreach and Education site later in the month:


You can find presentations from prrevious symposia listed at this site, today.

Participation Guidelines

Remember: information you share here is public; it isn't medical advice. Need advice or treatment? Contact your healthcare provider directly. Read our Terms of Use and this disclaimer
Visit CROETweb

Visit CROETweb

Follow OHSUOccHealth on twitter

Follow OHSUOccHealth on twitter

Monthly Archives

Yearly Archives