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.

Another Reason to Get Up!

Dr. Saurabh Thosar presents at our June 2014 Symposium.

Top news organizations, following an initial story by Indiana University, have jumped on to findings from a recent publication from Indiana University and our own Dr. Saurabh Thosar.

This new study by researchers at Indiana University and published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that you can prevent the impairment of blood flow in leg arteries by taking a five-minute walking break for every hour of sitting. Occupational Health Sciences’ Dr. Saurabh Thosar was the study’s lead author for this research that was completed during his time working at Indiana University.

Sitting can cause blood to pool in the legs and prevent it from effectively flowing into the heart. The study found that normal functioning of the artery can be reduced by as much as a half after one hour of sitting. Dr. Thosar presented these findings at our June 2014 Symposium on Sedentary and Stationary Work, and you can access his handout and recorded webinar on our symposium webpage.

Dr. Thosar recommends that it’s best to not sit for too long. Every now and then, walk to the water fountain, or go and talk to a co-worker instead of emailing them. If you have access to treadmill desks, use them.

Access the full publication. Looking for more ideas to sit less at work? See our tip sheet, Workplace Solutions to Get People Moving.


1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health™

Together with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Office for Total Worker Health and 14 other prestigious partners, we are excited to announce that registration is NOW OPEN for the 1st International Symposium to Advance TOTAL WORKER HEALTH™.

The symposium will be held October 6–8 on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Join more than 500 scientists and practitioners from around the world and learn the state of the science and practice using a coordinated approach that integrates health protection and health promotion.

As part of a packed agenda, the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center will be presenting these talks:

  • OHWC Director Kent Anger, Ph.D, will present with other Center Directors: Research Frontiers in Total Worker Health™: Unique Perspectives from the NIOSH TWH Centers of Excellence.
  • Ryan Olson, Ph.D. will chair the Total Trucker Health™: The Drive to Improve Symposium, and present: The SHIFT Intervention for Truck Drivers Produces Significant Weight Loss in a Randomized Trial.
  • Donald Truxillo, Ph.D. will present: Applying Psychological Lifespan Development Theory and Research to Interventions Targeting Older Workers.
  • Diane Elliot, MD, will present: Taking an Evidence-Based Total Worker Health™ Program Online.
  • Dr. Elliot will also chair the symposium Teaming up for Total Worker Health™ which includes the presentations, “A Conceptual Framework for Teams and Total Worker Health™ (presented by Dr. Elliot); SHIELD (Safety & Health Improvement: Enhancing Law Enforcement Department) Teams & a New Total Worker Health™ Model for Police Officers (Presented by Kerry Kuehl, MD, Ph.D.); SHIP: A Team-base Work-life and Safety Support Intervention for Construction Workers (presented by Leslie Hammer, Ph.D.); and, COMPASS Teams: Creating Health & Safety “Communities of Practice” for Home Care Workers (presented by Dr. Olson.)
  • Special Populations – Young Workers and Total Worker Health™ including papers presented by Diane Rohlman, Ph.D., and Megan Parish, MPH. (Developing a Methodology for Identifying and Prioritizing Factors in Young Workers Injuries: A Pilot Study; and, Technology Meets Total Worker Health: Evaluating Online Training for Young Workers).

Register and learn more about the Symposium.

The Institute Announces Release of its 2012-13 Biennial Report

The Institute’s 2012-2013 Biennial Report is now available. Find out more about who we are, what we do and what we have been up to the last two years by downloading the Report from our Publications page.

NIOSH, OSHA and Temporary Workers

Temporary workers often lack consistent workplace safety protections.  This has been discussed at a recent Occupational Health Sciences symposium, as well as at Oregon Construction Advisory Committee meetings.

This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute of Occupational Health Sciences released recommendations for host employers to better protect this group of workers. Upon the launching of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative last year, OSHA received reports and investigated cases of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, often within the first few days of a job. OSHA and NIOSH assert in the new guidance, that “all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, whether temporary or permanent.”

Fall 2013 Symposium panel on the Changing Employment Relationship and Worker Wellbeing (including discussion on temporary workers).

Key provisions of the new recommendations:

  • Evaluate the Host Employer’s Worksite
  • Train Agency Staff to Recognize Safety and Health Hazards (i.e., staffing agencies)
  • Ensure Employer Meets or Exceeds Other Employer’s Standards
  • Assign Occupational Safety and Health Responsibilities and Define the Scope of the Contract
  • Injury and Illness Tracking
  • Conduct Safety and Health Training and New Project Orientation
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program; Assessments; Investigations
  • Maintain Contact with Workers

We are hopeful that implementation of these guidelines together with other initiatives and measures will better protect this group of workers. Access the recommended practices.

Research Interns Supporting Health, Safety and Wellness


2014 Occupational Health Sciences and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center Interns.

Aviva Browning, Lewis & Clark College, Anger Lab (“Developing a new method for delivering computer-based safety training to workers with limited or no computer experience”)















Jaime Cheng, Johns Hopkins University, Rohlman Lab (“Work, food and apprentices: Evaluating an online nutrition program”)










Devin Christiansen accepts 1st place award for top poster by Director Steve Shea. Devin Christiansen, Portland State University, Anger Lab (“Value of a Treadmill Option for Call Center Workers at Sit-Stand Desks”)















Leanne Hicks, Portland State University, Hammer Lab (“Safety and Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and team cohesion”)










Colleen Hunter, Pacific University, Olson Lab (“The relationships between perceived stress, social support, well-being, dietary habits, exercise and safety behaviors”)










Michael Jacobson, Reed College, Butler Lab, 3rd Place Award (“Does traumatic brain injury severity depend on the time of day?”)














Krista Leonard, Willamette University, Rohlman Lab (“Developing an integrated approach to Total Worker Health trainings: Online vs. supervisor-led”)










Hilary Nichols, Western Washington University, McCullough Lab (“Evaluating educational programs on sun safety for Oregon young and future workers”)










Tiffany Nguyen, Yale University, Turker Lab (Effect of the APPL/Goa pathway on neurodegeneration induced by abnormal Ca2+ influx)














Silvia Plascencia, University of Portland, Kretzschmar Lab (“Effect of the Appl/Goa pathway on neurodegeneration induced by abnormal Ca2+ influx”)










Grace Recht, Ohio Wesleyan University, Kuehl Lab (Understanding the durability of a Total Worker Health Program: Mixed methods finding”)














Ryan Stadnik, University of Colorado-Boulder, Spencer Lab, 2nd Place Award (“Seasonal variation in onset of a childhood seizure disorder”)














Madison Trowbridge, Linfield College, Shea Lab (“Influence of recent sleep and food cues on hunger ratings”)










Jeana Yee, Johns Hopkins University, Olson Lab (“The relationships of work demands, perceived stress, and social support on the physical activity of truck drivers”)















Learn more about Occupational Health Sciences summer intern program.


Congratulations to our 2014 Summer Interns!

Devin Christiansen, Portland State University, accepts 1st place award  by Director Steve Shea. (Anger Lab, “Value of a Treadmill Option for Call Center Workers at Sit-Stand Desks”)


How lucky we are to work with such bright, energetic college students each summer. Our 2014 summer interns are no exception! A summer highlight for our staff is the presentation of research posters by each of our summer interns, of which we had 14 this year.

Our summer student research awards are three-month paid internships designed to introduce college undergraduate students to various fields of biomedical and occupational health research. All selected students are either Oregon residents or attend Oregon schools. Visit our blog next week to learn about all 14 interns and their projects. Read poster abstracts.




Tiffany Nguyen, Yale University, Turker Lab (“Utilizing bacterial artificial chromosomes to detect radiation induced mutations from charged particles In Vivo“)

Michael Jacobson, Reed College, Butler Lab, 3rd Place Award (“Does traumatic brain injury severity depend on the time of day?”)

Ryan Stadnik, University of Colorado-Boulder, Spencer Lab, 2nd Place Award (“Seasonal variation in onset of a childhood seizure disorder”)


Madison Trowbridge, Linfield College, Shea Lab (“Influence of recent sleep and food cues on hunger ratings”)


Silvia Plascencia, University of Portland, Kretzschmar Lab (“Effect of the Appl/Goa pathway on neurodegeneration induced by abnormal Ca2+ influx”)

Hilary Nichols, Western Washington University, McCullough Lab (“Evaluating educational programs on sun safety for Oregon young and future workers”)


Aviva Browning, Lewis & Clark College, Anger Lab (“Developing a new method for delivering computer-based safety training to workers with limited or no computer experience”)

Going for the Double Whammy in Sun Safety Education

Photo credit: CDC

Skin cancer is becoming a young person’s disease, with melanoma (the most deadly kind of skin cancer) being the 2nd most common form of cancer for people aged 15-29.[1] What’s more, reducing exposure to the sun is a preventable risk factor that can reduce a person’s risk of getting the disease. But as we know, it’s not easy to get people to permanently change their health behaviors.

However, there are many educational strategies that can be successful in changing health behaviors. I’d like to turn to Patient H, a case study showing how an intervention program drastically improved a young worker’s attitude and behavior towards sun safety. Even though Patient H began the intervention with many misconceptions about UV radiation, tans, and sun protection, the intervention was wildly successful in permanently changing her behaviors.

How do I know so much about Patient H? Because Patient H is me! I used to be pretty bad when it came to sun safely. When I was younger, I prided myself on not having to wear sunscreen because of my brown skin. While I never succumbed to the tanning bed, I could certainly be found lying out in the sun throughout our precious summer months. And on cloudy days, it would never even occur to me to use sunscreen.

Since beginning this internship at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, I’ve changed my ways (a public health miracle!): I have started wearing sunscreen everyday (even on cloudy days), could care less about having an even tan (I’d rather be patchy than skin cancer-y, thank you), and I even bought a pink parasol for portable shade (which I have already gotten a compliment on).

As a “sun safety” intern, it’s been my job to develop sun safety trainings for young workers. To do this, I’ve had to learn as much as I can about skin cancer and sun safety. After learning as much as I have, it just makes sense to protect my skin from the sun. I had to discover much of this information on my own, so I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to understanding it fully. Having knowledge about sun safety, from how often to reapply sunscreen to the way UV rays damages DNA, feels empowering and has influenced me to make a personal decision to take care of my skin.

While not everyone can have an OHSU summer internship, I think there’s something to having people educate themselves via teaching others. It’s like a covert way of getting someone to learn about something: no one made me learn all this stuff about skin cancer and sun protection, but I needed to know it to be able to help others, which has made me think about my own behaviors and how I should change them. Perhaps in the future we can create programs that employ high school students and young adults to teach younger children about sun safety, which I believe would be effective in educating both groups. When it comes to educating about sun safety, it seems to me that we should look for the double whammy!

Submitted by: Hilary Nichols, Summer Intern, McCullough and Rohlman Labs

[1] Bleyer A, O’Leary M, Barr R, Ries LAG (eds): Cancer epidemiology in older adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years of age, including SEER incidence and survival: 1975-2000. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2006.

Associated General Contractors National Meeting Held in Portland

Portland was the location of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America national Safety & Health Committee Meeting held July 16-18, 2014, and I was fortunate to be asked to present information about the toxicology of crystalline silica at one of their sessions. The AGC is dedicated to construction safety and health and plays an active role in improving safety and health through participation in the development of regulatory and legislative activity at both the national and local level as well as assisting in the development and creation of new safety training programs and products. Members attended this year’s meeting from all across the nation.

Among the highlights of the meeting was a presentation by Dr. John Gambatese from the Oregon State University School of Civil and Construction Engineering titled From Research to Practice: A Collaborative Approach to Construction Safety. Oregon OSHA administrator Michael Wood gave a particularly effective address on construction safety from the OSHA perspective. I participated in a panel discussion on the Federal OSHA’s proposed new silica standard. OSHA is considering whether to reduce the crystalline silica exposure standard in order to reduce the incidence and risk for silicosis and associated occupational diseases. I, along with Oregon AGC chapter member Alden Strealy and Oregon OSHA’s Chris Ottoson, presented information on the toxicology of silica (presented by Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Science’s Dr. Fred Berman), silica prevalence and exposure prevention (presented by Alden Strealy) and different aspects of the proposed rule changes (presented by Chris Ottoson). Discussion and questions following the panel presentation demonstrated significant concern about the feasibility of implementing the proposed changes. For example: how difficult would it be to accurately measure crystalline silica under the myriad conditions that exist at construction sites? Will the proposed rules place an unreasonable burden on small construction businesses? Or, Will the new standard actually reduce the incidence of disease caused by crystalline silica? Hopefully, answers to these and other questions regarding the proposed changes to the silica standard will be made clear as Federal OSHA advances through its rules process. We would like to thank the AGC of Oregon for asking us to contribute to their efforts and for allowing us the use of their facilities in Wilsonville for safety-related meetings, such as planning for the upcoming GOSH conference.

Here is a link to information on silica from our web resource page.

Training Young Workers: How-To’s for Employers

Young Workers learn about trades and safety at Oregon Women in Trades Career Fair 2014.

We recently heard about two terribly tragic young worker fatalities in Washington and in Calgary.

The first, a fifteen-year-old working near a gravel crusher, had held the job for only a month and a half. Although being investigated by Alberta Occupational Safety and Health, a co-worker reported that the victim was operating a piece of heavy equipment when something went wrong. The second fatality, in Washington State, was a nineteen-year-old working as part of a three-person team blowing bark who fell into an auger.

Sadly, there is not a single miracle solution to keep people safe at work. Certainly important starting points include effective safety and health training provided to all employees prior to beginning work.

SAIF Corporation has created fact sheets and tools to help Oregon employers effectively train and provide safe and healthy workplaces for all employees, including those who are young or new to a job. Most recently released is an 11-minute webinar titled Young Workers, Old-School Training which is freely available online. Check it out and see what you think – and share it with employers. Also visit SAIF’s Young Worker page to view other resources, including Young Worker, Smart Strategies fact sheets. Also accessible on this page are fact sheets created by O[yes], targeted directly to young workers and their parents. Finally, for even more resources, visit the Young Worker page on our Occupational Health Sciences Library (or CROETweb).

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