Total Worker Health Centers Funded

ohwc-logoWe are excited to share with you that the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) has again been funded by NIOSH, joining 5 other funded centers! The OHWC was first funded in September 2011 as the fourth Total Worker Health Center of Excellence. In this new round of funding, our Center joins the previously funded Center for Work, Health, & Well-Being Center (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (University of Massachusetts-Lowell and University of Connecticut), Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest (University of Iowa); and new centers Rocky Mountain Center for Total Worker Health (University of Colorado), and Center for Healthy Work (University of Illinois-Chicago).

The Total Worker Health (TWH) approach advocates for a holistic understanding of the factors that contribute to worker well-being. Scientific evidence now supports that risk factors in the workplace can contribute to health problems previously considered unrelated to work.

Here in Oregon, the OHWC is housed at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU, with collaborating institutions Portland State University, Labor Education Research Center at the University of Oregon, and Kaiser’s Center for Health Research. We are extra lucky that our partner, SAIF Corporation, is recognized by NIOSH as a Total Worker Health Affiliate.

Stay tuned to learn more about our new research. Have you been following our previously funded research? We are pleased to announce our new Toolkit Kiosk webpage. Visit the page and download toolkits that have demonstrated positive changes in learning and behavior. We’d love to hear what you think of them!

NIOSH Total Worker Health
OccHealthSci Topic: Total Worker Health and Well-being
Safety & Health Magazine article on Total Worker Health funding


New OR-FACE toolbox talk guides published

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 training and meetings, hazard alerts and informal communications between supervisors, workers, and co-workers. Toolbox talks are short discussions on safety typically facilitated by team leaders. OR-FACE toolbox talk guides are a collaboration of many to influence safe behaviors, sharing real fatal stories and recommendations to prevent similar incidents.  In August OR-FACE published three new guides.  There are now 24 toolbox talk guides published on the OR-FACE website.  Six have Spanish translations.
TBT 2013-34-1 2013-25-1 picture2008-37-1 picture

Diversity, inclusion and Total Worker Health

imageWe are pleased to announce our fall symposium that will address diversity, inclusion and Total Worker Health. We hope you will join us on Friday, November 18 in Portland as we delve into this topic and supporting research, examine best practices, and imagine how our organizations can move ahead. And as always, you can join us in person or by live webinar.

Is it part of our own humanness that we don’t truly understand something until we actually experience imageit? My last few weeks have opened my eyes to things about which I thought I had both knowledge and empathy. I understand how exhausted I am in my new, temporary way of getting to and from work, to the grocery store and beyond. But what I didn’t expect was my increased level of frustration at both how poorly so many environments are built – especially in older academic settings, such as buildings here at OHSU – to support certain disabilities, but particularly my reaction to people who seem to not pay attention. Trucks that park blocking handicapped parking access; people who look at their phones and walk by someone in need of opening a door where no automatic doors exist. Whereas we can find a fair amount of information about “wellness” as related to the built environment and disabilities, I’m not sure we have as many conversations about the “well-being” component, and how to create psychologically healthier support systems.

I am eager to listen to the presentations and discussions related to this topic in November, and hope to see you! Look for a flier in the mail later this month, chat with us at our fall exhibits and check out the agenda on our website. Look for online registration on the website by Oct. 1.


John Mohlis retires from OR Building Trades

John Mohlis’ retirement celebration was held at Edgefield (Troutdale, OR) last evening, August 23. John has been the Executive Secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council that represents approximately 25,000 construction workers in 21 member unions for well over a decade.

Mohlis retirement 2016John (pictured in the blue shirt, below) has been a strong voice for labor over his many years as Executive Secretary and most importantly has been strong voice for collaboration among labor, management, and public and private institutions in Oregon and Southwest Washington, all of which spoke positively and spontaneously at the celebration about John’s positive approach to bringing all sides together around construction needs and issues.

John Mohlis at 2016 retirement celebrationCongratulations to John and thanks for his contributions to OHSU’s Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center – he has brought a strong labor perspective to advisory boards for both over the years. He also served as MLAC co-chair and many other key roles in the region. And welcome to Tim Frew, the Oregon Building Trades’ new Executive Secretary.

2016 Summer Institute webinars online

imageDid you know that we record most of our continuing educational symposia and make them freely available online? Our 2016 Summer Institute which drew almost one hundred attendees in July was no exception. If you missed this three-day event, or if you want to refresh your memory of what you learned, the  handouts and webinars are now available on the 2016 Summer Institute webpage. Please keep in mind that we don’t post recordings that involve unpublished findings and at the request of the presenter.

And here’s something we would like everyone to know: we have free access to these recordings going back to 2010. Check them all out on our training and symposia webpage.  We are very thankful to have the support of our own Dan Austin who is dedicated to making this happen for us!

What’s next? Check out our November 18, 2016 symposium on Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace: Impact on worker health and wellbeing.

Occ Health Sci summer interns present posters

Occ Health Sci Summer internship poster session overview 2016Fifteen Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Summer Interns capped their 2016 internship on Wednesday with the annual poster session at which they present the results of their summer of research.

Directed by faculty member Dr. Ryan Olson, the summer internship program had over 125 applicants and Institute faculty selected 15 enthusiastic undergraduates from Oregon or Oregon schools.  The interns attend undergraduate programs at Brown University, George Fox University, Portland State University (4), OHSU, Oregon State University (2), Santa Clara University, University of Portland, University of Washington, Washington State University, Whitman College.

2016 summer intern Group pictureThree posters/presentations were selected as most outstanding by two independent judges:

  • Shivam Swamy (Matt Butler Lab) whose poster title was “Reproductive consequences of nonsynchronous circadian clocks” (first place)
  • Georgeann Booth (Steven Shea Lab) – Vascular function in obstructive sleep apnea (second)
  • Kathleen Daly-Jensen (Mitch Turker Lab) – Measuring cytogenetic aberrations induced by accelerated helium ions” (third)

Institute Director Dr. Steven Shea reflected that all the projects and posters were excellent, and judges Drs. Rick Johnson and Ginger Hanson echoed this point:

  • Yvonne Barsalou (Miranda Lim Lab) – Effect of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder on sleep and employment status in veteransSteven_Shea and Shivam_Swamy at 2016 poster session
  • Todd Carroll (Ryan Olson Lab) – Preparing a toolbox talk mobile marketing campaign for residential construction workers
  • Alejandra Garfias (Leslie Hammer Lab) – Gender and reports of injury among nurses*
  • Ali Noel Gunesch (Charles Allen Lab) – Cannabinoid signaling and astrocytes in synchrony and entrainment of the SCN
  • Julia Khoury (Ryan Olson Lab) – Validity of accelerometer and single-channel EEG for measuring sleep in team truck drivers*
  • Sadie Krahn (Doris Kretzschmar Lab) – Exploring Swiss Cheese function and its effect on CA2+ homeostasis
  • Vivienne_Voisin describing posterEleanor Lagnion (Brad Wipfli Lab) – Pedal stands in sedentary occupations: Feasibility and measurement validation*
  • Luke Mahoney (Leslie Hammer Lab) – Experience or beliefs? Correlates of self-reported veteran supportive supervisor behaviors in the civilian workplace
  • Mubark Mebrat (R. Stephen Lloyd Lab) – Early-stage drug discovery – Complementary approaches to speed the identification of inhibitors of a DNA repair enzyme
  • Ali_Noel_Gunesch describes her posterNatalie Ploof (Brad Wipfli Lab) – Maximizing the effectiveness of computer-based training in commercial drivers
  • Austen Suits (Peter Spencer Lab) – Magpi© software for data collection on sleep deprivation from multiple populations simultaneously
  • Vivienne Voisin (David Hurtado Lab) – Features for peer-based programs to promote workplace health and safety

Mubark_Mebrat at 2016 poster sessionPictures show interns describing their posters to audience members, and reflect the excitement seen throughout the summer and in the poster session.

Three posters (*) were Oregon Healthy Workforce Center research projects.

Several of the interns will continue working in faculty labs on a part-time or full-time basis depending on their graduation status.



Oregon Wine Research Institute workshop addresses TWH

Oregon State University’s Oregon Wine Research Institute (OWRI) and LIVE held a workshop at Stoller Family Vineyards on August 4.  Shown below is the initial gathering of the group introduced by Chris Serra of LIVE.  Workshop presentations addressed monitoring vine water stress, managing wildlife with birds of prey and Total Worker Health® (TWH).  Attending were managers and supervisors from vineyards and winemaking facilities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.OWRI 8-4-16

Kent Anger of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center and Katie Vaughn described their TWH intervention for agriculture, focused on vineyards.  The program is adapted from Dr. Anger’s TWH intervention in construction project of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.  The new program has expanded the team-based education program on healthy lifestyles in the construction intervention project to include well-being topics such as adjusting to a new culture, time management, interpersonal communication and health care and insurance.  Such topics begin to cover some of the broad range of new issues in TWH introduced by NIOSH this summer.  Katie Vaughn is shown below describing these new topics that she developed for the vineyard project.Katie Vaughn at OWRI workshop 8-4-16

This is the first research project aimed at evaluating a TWH intervention in agriculture.  The project is funded by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center based at the University of Washington and it is supported by the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center directed by Dr. Anger, shown speaking below at the OWRI workshop.  New vineyards are being recruited to participate in the research project by Dr. Anger and Ms. Vaughn, both of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU.  The presentations were filmed and will be available on LIVE’s youtube channel soon.

Kent Anger talking at Stoller vineyard meeting 8-4-16

New School of Public Health embraces Total Worker Health!

Students: back row, left to right: Connor Jordan, Daniel Wentz, Mary Murphy Front row left to right: Sara Wild, Jadie Karratti-Abordo, Alisa Bruno

Class students:  Connor Jordan, Daniel Wentz, Mary Murphy, Sara Wild, Jadie Karratti-Abordo, Alisa Bruno

As many may already know, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University joined forces to create a new School of Public Health. At Occ Health Sci we are very excited about the School, including the recent selection of our founding Dean, David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H., who is a Portland native returning home to continue his good work!

What many may not know is that the new School has also embraced Total Worker Health. Back in 2015, the School’s inspiring Interim Dean, Elena Andresen, PhD, FACE, had the foresight to request a new required course in Occupational Health for students enrolled in the Environmental Systems and Human Health Masters Degree program.  She came to the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences for help, and I got the chance to develop the course for the School.

Students with Dr. Olson and Tri-Met's Harry Saporta.

Students with Dr. Olson and TriMet’s Harry Saporta.

I designed the course from a Total Worker Health perspective, which has been defined by NIOSH as “policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being” (Schill & Chosewood, 2016).  Several of my co-workers at OHSU pitched in to provide guest lectures in the schedule.

What’s cool about the Total Worker Health approach is that it considers the safety, health, and well-being of the whole person at work. This means that factors like stress and work-family conflict are viewed as occupational hazards that should be eliminated or controlled just like traditional workplace hazards such as noise, chemical exposures, or physical dangers.

Our friendly neighborhood transit company, TriMet, stepped up to support the first offering of the course in the Spring of 2016.  Students got to hear a guest lecture from Harry Saporta, TriMet’s Safety & Health Executive, and also tour the Central Garage and check out the training department’s state of the art bus simulator!. In class we also read and discussed research on bus operator safety, health, and well-being.

Recently retired Tri-Met's Allen Morgan demonstrates a simulator.

Recently retired TriMet’s Allen Morgan demonstrates a simulator.

Of course a highlight of any course is what the students bring to the table. It was a pleasure to work with and get to know the pioneering first batch of Environmental Systems and Human Health students who took the course!  (see picture of students with names).  Their self-selected project topics were inspiring, and included ergonomic protections for school teachers, injury prevention in commercial fishing, special safety hazards for undocumented workers, surveillance of drug use and abuse among healthcare employees, interventions to reduce workplace sedentary behavior, and reducing whole body vibration exposures among heavy equipment operators.

In all, it was a great first offering of Occupational Health in our new School of Public Health.  I can’t wait to find out what these excellent students do next, and the things they will do in their public health careers.

Submitted by: Ryan Olson, Ph.D., Associate Professor Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences

See you in September?

2015 AHA SummitSeptember may remind us of the start of the school year – but for us at the Institute it also means it’s time to kick off our fall conferences. We are always eager for this favorite of our outreach activities: connecting with so many of you!

We are eager to network and trade notes about our research, your workforce and how we can work together.  Check out the events listed below – several in which Institute and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center staff will be presenting and all where we will be sponsoring exhibits.

  • 9/7/2016 – American Heart Association Worksite Wellness Summit at Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon
  • 9/9/2016 – 9/10/2016 – Northwest Association of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Annual Meeting, Cedarbrook Lodge, Washington
  • 9/21/2016 – 9/22/2016 – Central Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference, Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Bend, Oregon
  • 10/11/2016 – 20/13/2016 – Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference, Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites, Ashland, Oregon
  • 10/19/2016 – 10/21/2016 – 2016 Northwest Occupational Health Conference, Portland Airport Sheradon, Portland, Oregon (PS. We are particularly excited about our involvement in the short course. Hint…check out the agenda when it is posted.)
  • 10/29/16 – 11/3/16 –American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expo, Denver, Colorado
  • 11/29/2016 – 12/22/2016 – Western Pulp, Paper, & Forest Products Safety & Health Conference, Red Lion on the River, Jantzen Beach, Portland, Oregon

Want more details? Visit our events page! And start making your continuing education and networking plans.

OHWC occupational health psychology summer institute held

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) Summer Institute (SI) was held this week at Portland State University.  The SI focused on the broad scope of Occupational Health Psychology that encompasses the issues of Total Worker Health (TWH) and was attended by about 100 people, shown below at the opening keynote.
OHWC SI 2016

Three main overarching themes from the Summer Institute were summarized by Dr. Hammer:

  • Importance of the effects of leadership and leadership support in OHP and TWH approaches and strategies leading to improvements in safety, health, and well-being.
  • The context and sample matters in studies of OHP and TWH.
  • We need to include more from the perspectives of health economists.

SI Director Dr. Leslie Hammer is introducing the first keynote in the picture above and she is seen on the far right with the SI speakers, shown below (three are missing).

Summer Institute-Speaker Group-2016

Speakers at the OHWC OHP Summer Institute 2016

The slides and audio recordings of all but two talks will be available on the Institute website by August 1, 2016.

Key points from each speaker are listed below:

Day 1

Bakker: Creative Approaches to Employee Work Engagement

  1. Changes to employees’ work engagement can be made at the individual-level (bottom-up approach) – using strategies such as job crafting, mobilizing ego resources, strength use, and self-leadership
  2. Leaders can also optimize job demands and job resources for employees (top-down approach) and facilitate individual-level changes as well (e.g., strength use support)

McDonald: Creating a Culture of Safety

  1. Importance of diffused leadership (including executives and lower-level management) – 200% accountability (including self and others) – bottom-up & top-down approaches
  2. Importance of culture, communication (transparency), commitment (involvement from all levels of an organization) and recognition – followed by $10M reduction in work comp costs over 3 years
Jim McDonald

Jim McDonald of Meijer

Leiter: Improving Civility Contributes to Well-Being at Work

  1. A culture of civility can reduce burnout (e.g., exhaustion & frustration): reciprocity of positive treatment, positive social encounters and interactions
  2. Organizations should intervene at the workgroup-level and seek to change collective behaviors and collective thresholds

Rineer & Pina: Organizational Barriers and Novel Solutions to Improving Occupational Health

  1. Practical barriers (e.g., lack of resources or lack of knowledge) can hinder employee wellness program effectiveness
  2. Importance of leadership support and employee engagement to successfully carry out worksite wellness programs
  3. New emerging technologies/techniques OHP researchers can learn from public health informatics

Overarching Theme:

Each presentation stressed the point, and represented the importance of both “top down” organizational approaches, as well as “bottom up” individual approaches to OHP and TWH strategies.

Day 2

Sorensen: Work & Health, Evidence on the Pathways to Implementing Total Worker Health

Day 2 keynote Glorian Sorensen 2016 SI

Dr. Glorian Sorensen of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

  1. Importance of an integrative approach (protection and promotion) to improving employee holistic health and well-being primarily through changes made to the work conditions
  2. Workers are already thinking holistically and in an integrated way, it is time that we join them with workplace approaches that are integrated
  3. Leadership commitment and employee involvement are both critical: need communication and transparency

Dimoff: With a Little Help From My Boss: Supervisors as Resource Facilitators

  1. Leaders play a major role in recognizing warning signs of problems experienced by employees and in facilitating the use of organizational resources among employees
  2. Mental Health Awareness Training for leaders and the Signs of Struggle (SOS) tool are effective strategies in improving recognition, treatment, and long-term ROI (overall employee mental health and leaders’ knowledge can also be enhanced)

Hurtado: Time at Work and Workers’ Health

  1. A large proportion of each day is spent at work – organizations should do something about workers’ experience; they play a role in optimizing employee health and well-being
  2. How time is organized at work (and outside of work) can have major implications on employee health (e.g., time off, breaks, shiftwork, work-time control, flextime)
  3. Need to better understand the health pathways between organization of time and health/occupational health outcomes

Yang: Workplace Mistreatment Management: Nipping Mean Behavior Before It Starts

  1. Cultivating a positive organizational climate and culture appears to help reduce workplace aggression/mistreatment among co-workers
  2. Management practices/leadership can foster more positive organizational climate, specifically via Aggression-Preventive Supervisor Behaviors (APSB)
  3. Future plans include supportive group intervention for supervisors to solve problems and increase APSB

Overarching Theme:

David Hurtado at 2016 SI

Dr. David Hurtado of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU

There is a need to pay attention not only to intervention strength, but also scalability.

Day 3

Dennerlein: Safety Incentives, Safety Climate, & TWH in the Dynamic Environment of Commercial Construction

  1. Construction workers are a part of a unique worker population that experiences some (relatively) non-traditional stressors at work – more context/occupation-specific research is warranted
  2. Safety culture has parallels with the integrated TWH approach, including both protection (controlling health hazards) and promotion (training and implementing organizational policies and procedures) – B Safe intervention led to large effect size changes in safety climate
  3. B Safe intervention focused on safe conditions in the workplace. Frequent measurement of conditions, feedback to the workforce, and incentives led to large effect size changes in safety climate

Demerouti: Bottom Up Interventions to Stimulate Effective Functioning

  1. Job crafting is an individualized bottom-up strategy that is *not* designed to replace top-down strategies. Top-down approaches are still needed to complement bottom-up ones.
  2. Job crafting is designed to deal with organizational change/transforming work environments, but the extent to which job crafting is effective may depend on the nature of autonomy and interdependence in a certain job/occupation.
Dr. Amy Adler

Dr. Amy Adler of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Adler: Behavioral Health Leadership in a High-Risk Occupation

  1. Leaders (e.g., front-line supervisors) work very closely with soldiers (sometimes they’re responsible for them 24/7) – their behaviors play a significant role in soldiers’ mental health and readiness (and unit-level outcomes like unit functioning)
  2. Domain-specific leadership behaviors (including sleep, COSC, health-promoting) can enhance soldiers’ mental health above and beyond general leadership behaviors. (+ rank and combat experience)

Hopcroft: Design Your Workplace for Wellness Wins (And Live Longer, Better)

  1. Four elements of wellness: (1) move naturally, (2) right outlook (e.g., sense of purpose), (3) eat wisely (e.g., 80% rule), and (4) connect
  2. Changes made at the community-level (e.g., Blue Zones project) by emulating lifestyles adopted in some of the longest-living cultures have been shown to improve community & individual health and well-being – large changes in weight, BMI, and other markers followed implementation of Blue Zones programs in communities.
  3. Blue Zones project can be extended to worksites by tailoring best practices and utilizing motivational materials and activity

Special thanks to Dr. Janelle Cheung with help from Dr. Wylie Wan for providing these notes.


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