Oregon Military Employee Sleep and Health (MESH) Study

mesh-pic-1Dr. Leslie Hammer has recently been awarded a Department of Defense grant to develop and deliver a Total Worker Health® (TWH) intervention to improve the safety, health, and well-being of service members in the Oregon National Guard, as well as their families. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), TWH® is defined 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.

Toward these aims, the Oregon Military Employee Sleep and Health (MESH) study will 1) train supervisors to support service members in their units around work-life stress and sleep health and 2) promote sleep health via sleep monitoring and individual feedback.

Workplace strain has been estimated to cost up to $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare expenses, while one of the biggest stress factors – work-life stress – can cost up to $24 billion[1]. Additionally, common sleep disorders have been estimated to cost the U.S. workforce more than $200 billion a year[2],3.

Dr. Hammer and her team believe that these adverse workplace health factors have just as big an impact on service members, and the military mesh-pic-2as a whole, as they do on the private sector. Partnering with the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study team proposes that leadership can influence a foundational change in the recognition of work-life balance, sleep health, and overall well-being amongst service members and their families. With the support of the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study will provide family-supportive and sleep leadership training for all participating supervisors; and raise service members’ awareness of their own sleep health through providing individual feedback on their daily activity and sleep quantity/quality.

Dr. Hammer and her team expect positive personal and organizational effects from this study, including reduced stress and increased social support for service members. Longer term, these effects are anticipated to create an overall more supportive work environment, which will benefit the safety, health, well-being, family processes, and organizational outcomes for all service members involved.


[1]Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., & Zenios, S. A. (2015). The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States. Management Science, 62, 608-628.

[2]American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2016). Hidden health crisis costing America billions. Retrieved from http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/pdf/sleep-apnea-economic-crisis.pdf

3Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., Coulouvrat, C., Hajak, G., Roth, T., Shahly, V., … & Walsh, J. K. (2011). Insomnia and the performance of US workers: Results from the America Insomnia Survey. Sleep, 34, 1161-1171.

Submitted by: Janelle Cheung, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU

NOHC short course focuses on sleep and shiftwork


Steven Shea facilitates the presenter panel discussion with Ryan Olson, Michael Fischman, Matt Butler, Nicole Bowles, and Isaac Howard.

The 2016 Northwest Occupational Health Conference (NOHC) short course on “Health and Safety in the 24/7 Economy” drew industrial hygienists from around the region today at the Sheraton Portland Airport. Our Institute was pleased to provide four faculty members and researchers to present their knowledge and research as part of the event.

NOHC is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Today’s short course included the Peter Breysse keynote lecture, this year provided by our Director, Dr. Steven Shea. We all appreciate the efforts of PNS-AIHA and University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences to support continuing education relevant to our profession.

Today’s offering included academic researchers Dr. Shea and Dr. Matt Butler on the physiological impacts of shift work, body clocks and circadian rhythms, and Dr. Nicole Bowles and Dr. Ryan Olson with unique research and interventions in transit and trucking work populations. Also shared were challenges and solutions faced within organizations as shared by Dr. Michael Fischman of Intel, Doyle Anderson with Port of Portand Dredging Operations, and Isaac Howard of the University of Washington on scheduling among fire fighters.

Both presenters and attendees agreed that there remain many challenges in attempting to address safety, health and well-being risks in our economy that seems to expect and need 24/7 operations. Speakers observed, during the panel discussion, that although there are significant concerns about potential chronic health impacts of short sleep, workers really notice and care about “quality of life” issues associated with shift work. Quality of life can increase while working shift work when supervisors are supportive; but it isn’t always easy to create better working schedules. A few tips that were shared that are useful include:

  • If you must rotate work shifts, attempt to allow employees time to adapt to each schedule change, and generally rotate schedules forward (maintaining adequate rest time before next shift).
  • Maintain the opportunity for sleep as much as possible when determining schedules and making organizational decisions.
  • Educate on sleep hygiene.
  • Recognize and treat sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia.

Additional tips on sleep can be found on these websites:
NIOSH Workshift Schedules: Shiftwork and Long Hours
OccHealthSci topic page: Sleep and Shiftwork


Hello research, meet practice

Have you ever thought that science and practice don’t talk enough? As we develop and disseminate our evidence-based Total Worker Health interventions at the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, it’s important to understand the steps organizations are currently taking toward healthier workforces.

OHWC Center Manager, Anjali Rameshbabu attended the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) 2016 Forum last month. Geared toward sharing best practices in workplace health and well-being, HERO provides a common ground for researchers and practitioners to exchange knowledge, trade experiences, and strategize approaches for positive workforce outcomes. With our goal of dissemination at the OHWC, this event provided an opportunity to share our own resources with interested professionals.

This year’s theme at HERO was “Leading in Well-Being: Workplaces Influencing the Health of Employees, Families and Communities”. Represented by academia and industry, some captivating keynotes were from Howard Koh (former United States Assistant Secretary for Health), Vic Strecher (University of Michigan), Jack Groppel (Johnson & Johnson), Ron Goetzel (Johns Hopkins), and a vibrant group called Next Jump. Often through stories of success and challenge, sessions addressed key issues such as culture of well-being, employee engagement, leadership support, and program effectiveness. Through it all emerged an underlying push to promote engagement and purpose as facilitators of employee well-being. HERO honored Boise School and Sandia Labs for their exemplary workplace well-being efforts with C. Everett Koop National Health Awards .


Ron Goetzel on cost-effectiveness of well-being programs


Vic Strecher discussing employee engagement and purpose


Howard Koh describing a new Harvard initiative to improve workplace health


Jack Groppel sharing results from their wellness intervention at Johnson & Johnson

In all, with its friendly space for researchers and practitioners, highlight of tools like the HERO Scorecard and practical strategies for workplace well-being, and extensive networking opportunity, the HERO conference is a highly engaging forum. Still, one issue remained conspicuously absent–occupational safety. It’s no surprise that traditionally, employee safety and wellness have remained independent efforts. From the evidence behind Total Worker Health, we now know that meaningfully improving the health status of work populations is best done by an organization-led integrated approach that addresses both, the safety and well-being of the worker. Picture the safety risks of a construction worker who hasn’t had enough sleep. Imagine the health outcomes of a nurse who regularly works double shifts. Safety and well-being go hand in hand.

For sure, forums like HERO are crucial to understanding the wellness trends in industry just as occupational safety conferences shine the light on workplace exposures and risks. As supporters of Total Worker Health, it is a reminder that we need to engage in some serious socializing—between safety and wellness departments, between an organization’s senior leaders, managers, and employees, and between research and practice. Bottom line: make social, not silo.

Oregon Healthy Workforce Center Partners’ Luncheon

The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) held it’s Partners’ Luncheon on Monday to thank our research and outreach partners from the first cycle (2011-2016) and our new partners for the 2016-2021 cycle.


Partners from 2011-2016 learned what had been accomplished in the outreach and the four research projects, and learned about others in their research project (many for the first time) and about the other research projects and outreach going on at the Center.  The Partners, some of which were involved with the Center for 5 years, received plaques and the appreciation of all members of the OHWC.  Publications from the first cycle are available as are tools and toolkits used in our 2011-2016 cycle on the OHWC website.  The progress of the OHWC can be watched in our Center Evaluation page headed by a summary scorecard.




New Partners received certificates of recognition and our appreciation for pledging their support to participate in the OHWC research projects. Outreach partners plan to continue.  Shown below is Dr. Steven Shea, Director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Dr. David Bangsberg, the founding Dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health talking with Chuck Easterly of SAIF.drs-shea-and-bangsberg-talk-with-chuck-easterly

Partners from 2011-2016 included SAIF, OR OSHA, Service Employees International Union, Home Care Commission, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Water Bureau, Portland Parks and Recreation, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, NECA-IBEW, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, InLine Commercial Construction, Fortis Construction, General Sheet Metal, Mortensen.



2014 OR-FACE Annual Report published

The Oregon Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) published Occupational Fatalities in Orego2014-OR-FACE annual-rptn Annual Report 2014. OR-FACE annual reports include analysis of the incidents with charts for industry, event, age, gender, time, month and more. These reports also include an abstract of each case. In 2014, OR-FACE recorded 59 fatal occupational incidents and 62 worker deaths. The forestry/logging industry had the highest number of fatalities for the year with transportation following in a close second. There were 5 delayed deaths (>2 days from date of injury) in 2014. The incident for one of these cases occurred 4 years ago.

OccHealthSci topic Safety and Toolbox Talks
Oregon FACE website


“A Day’s Work” to show at NOHC in Portland


Discussion during 2015 Institute’s Spring Symposium on Temporary Workers.

This year’s Joint Session of the Northwest Occupational Health Conference will include a special showing of A Day’s Work, followed by a panel discussion. This tragic documentary reminds us just how dangerous work – even a first day of work – can be:

“90 minutes before he was killed on his first day of work as a temporary employee, 21-year-old Day Davis texted a picture of himself to his girlfriend, excited for their future. Now Day’s sister, 17-year-old Antonia, searches for answers. An investigation reveals the troubling issues that led to Day’s death and how the $100 billion temporary staffing industry is putting millions of American workers at risk.” Watch the trailer.

While some staffing agencies may be making efforts to prioritize safety, we are aware of disturbing patterns and incidents through some work operations, and included in some fatalities investigated within our own Oregon FACE program. This film has played for many labor and safety and health organizations including NIOSH, OSHA, state departments of labor, AIHA, APHA, NSC and AFL-CIO. We appreciate the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association for securing this event for the final half-day of the conference, on Friday, October 21.

The full half-week conference is scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel from Wednesday, October 19 through noon on Friday, October 21. We are particularly pleased that the Wednesday short-course, Health and Safety in the 24/7 Economy, will feature our Institute faculty and staff including Steven Shea, Matt Butler, Ryan Olson, and Nichole Bowles. Attendees can register for Wednesday only, Thursday/Friday, Friday only, or all sessions. Costs for Friday only is $75 member (AIHA or ASSE)/$115 non-member or $25 student/retiree (member)/$50 student/retiree (non-member).

Learn more on the conference website.

OccHealthSci Topic: Temporary Workers
OccHealthSci Topic: Sleep and Shiftwork

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.

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