SERVe Serves Employers of Veterans

Portland State University, in partnership with OHSU and the VA, is working on a $5 million Department of Defense grant offering free training to organizations who want to be the employer of choice for Oregon’s returning veteran population.

The Veteran Supportive Supervisor Training (VSST), developed by Dr. Leslie Hammer and her team focuses on teaching supervisors supportive behaviors and military culture in order to increase veteran job retention.  Dr. Hammer saw a need due to Oregon being the second most deployed state in the last decade and wanted to give organizations and employees a leg up in the reintegration process.

This training will not only bolster an organization’s bottom-line, but facilitate better communication between supervisor and employee, reduce intent to turnover, and ultimately improve work/life balance for the whole organization.

Currently, SERVe (Study for Employment Retention of Veterans) is looking for employers to take part in the free training.  Veterans who work at least 20 hours a week at participating organizations and are post 9/11 can take part in surveys measuring how the training is affecting their work and family life balance; they will be compensated $25 per survey (3 surveys in total).

The list of current participants includes private companies such as Intel, EID Passport and Bend Research, as well as state and local governments: Multnomah and Clackamas Counties among others.  Other participating organizations can be seen at www.

Organizational training recruitment continues through Fall 2015.  Please contact Michelle Matthews, Military Project Coordinator for a packet of information about how to get involved:

Submitted by Michelle Matthews, Portland State University

Look Who is Standing Now

Director Dr. Steven Shea inspects a shipment.

Occupational Health Sciences prioritized the installation of sit-stand work stations for our employees this past year. And as organizations have learned, we had to plan ahead to budget for this process.

Arranging standing options for desk-bound work was an important priority for our overall health and safety – we have closely followed and in some cases added to the research demonstrating the importance of standing and moving during the work day.

Here’s some of what we learned:

  • If funds are limited, prioritize allocation of work stations by total amount of time seated during the day, and personal interest, or develop a rotation plan.
  • Install one or more sit-stand devices in communal areas to give staff an opportunity to test out if this is a good option for them, and to assist with selection of different options.
  • Emphasize best practices for use – most people are best served by a combination of sitting and standing throughout the day: It is generally best to alternate standing and sitting.  So, the stations should be easy to raise or lower.
  • Encourage movement throughout the day. Download our tip sheet: Solutions to Get People Moving.

What’s happening in your workplace?

Sedentary, Stationary and Physically Demanding Work - (symposium recorded on 6/14, available to view at no cost)
Total Worker Health and Wellness Topic
– OccHealthSci online library


OR-FACE Collaborates with Associated Oregon Loggers

Keynote Joe Estey addresses AOL.

According to the Associated Oregon Loggers (AOL), Oregon has 30 million acres of forestland and AOL represents over 1000 member companies statewide that are involved in the harvest and sustainable forest management. This year AOL invited OR-FACE to present at their annual safety conference held on Saturday, November 8, in Eugene, OR.

The forestry/logging industry each year has consistently had high numbers of occupational fatalities.  Since 2003 there have been 91 cases and is second only to the transportation industry for total fatality cases. OR-FACE is pleased to expand collaboration with AOL to further efforts to prevent occupational injuries and fatalities.

The 185 conference attendees were provided information on the available OR-FACE resources and how to access them:  hazard alerts, annual reports, investigation reports, brochures, toolbox talks, and interactive maps.
The newly proposed collaboration between AOL and OR-FACE is a mobile system to promote and evaluate toolbox talks and hazard alerts.  Given that loggers are dispersed and work at remote locations, this proposal will explore utilizing smart phone capabilities to distribute talks and alerts to AOL members who subscribe.

Submitted by Illa Gilbert-Jones, Oregon FACE Program Manager. Contact the OR-FACE Program.

OR FACE Resources:

Hazard Alerts

Annual Reports

Toolbox Talks



Calling all AEDs

You likely know the location of any automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that may be placed in your work facility. But do you happen to know where other AEDs are located in the greater Portland and Vancouver areas?

The Portland Metro HeartMap Challenge is a month-long community scavenger hunt encouraging citizens to map AEDs in the four metro area counties – Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. This challenge is being conducted by OHSU’s Department of Emergency Medicine. The HeartMap Challenge is a multi-city community improvement project conducted by the University of Washington in collaboration with local agencies. Learn more about how to add to the inventory, and perhaps win a prize.

Oregon public schools and public buildings meeting certain specifications were required by legislation effective in 2010 to place AEDs in buildings. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an AED can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. Early defibrillation, along with CPR, is the only way, in many cases of cardiac arrest, to restore the victim’s heart rhythm to normal.

Other Resources: Topic: Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace


Social Support, Mindfulness and Workplace Health

Lois Tetrick, Ph.D.

Our fall symposium, Healthy Workplace Solutions, introduced evidence and new ideas for improving workplace wellbeing and health.

Dr. Lois Tetrick reminded us the burden that stress plays in most of our lives, identifying top worker stressors as  low salaries, lack of opportunity for job growth, job insecurity, uncertain job expectations and long hours. She pointed out that organizational level interventions – which can be so effective – are still relatively rare.

Dr. Joel Bennett shared how successful and healthy organizations foster healthy social connections to improve individual and organizational resiliency, using leadership, management, champions, peer-to-peer and individual “touch points.”

Some of us were less familiar with the information shared by Dr. Robert Roeser on improving occupational health and wellbeing through mindfulness training. He brought us up to speed on the extent of peer-reviewed publications and research studies on mindfulness, along with the successes demonstrated in his research with teachers and students using mindfulness to reduce stress and improve work and health outcomes.

Ryan Olson, Ph.D.

Our own Dr. Ryan Olson demonstrated the importance of combining environmental change with employee involvement together with social prompt and consequence, for improved work, safety and health. Read more about the SHIFT Project.

If you missed this event, you can look forward to watching the recorded webinar later this month on our symposium webpage.

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.

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