The 8th WestON (Western States Occupational Network) meeting in Denver (9/17-18) brought us important news, new ways of thinking … and humor. NIOSH Director John Howard’s (below) appointment has been renewed for 6 more years. Responding to a question about his reasons for staying at NIOSH, he said that he wanted to be sure there was continuity during the Executive Branch change in 2016 – many recognize that he has brought visionary and strong leadership to NIOSH. Dr. Howard also confirmed the creation of the NIOSH Western States Division in Denver during his update. The Division is looking to partner with OSH specialists in the West to accomplish the NIOSH mission.
National Public Radio reporter Daniel Zwerdling (below) encouraged scientists to present the human picture when talking to reporters. He often starts off his interviews with ‘make me a movie’ of your story. Often he has to ask for a simpler explanation over and over until people get there (he illustrated that with recordings from interviews that began with very wordy descriptions). In the meeting sum up, one attendee said ‘I resolve to not fear talking to reporters any more, and to get my stories out.’ This keynote accomplished it’s goal. Daniel’s recent series on lifting injuries in nursing workers has led to an OSHA program to investigate those injuries.
Chuck Easterly, Loss Control Manager of SAIF (shown below speaking with Lauren Mayfield of California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund), was one of three workers’ compensation insurance organization representatives invited to speak about their role in workplace safety and health. Chuck gave an inspirational endorsement of his philosophy for making Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. It was a highlight. Worker’s Compensation insurance companies have a major role in workplace safety, health and wellness.
Meeting convener Bob Harrison (below) of the University of California at San Francisco combined important information about silica exposures to workers making the new engineered kitchen countertops, with humor. To make his point, he struck the pose of the “Toxic Avenger” (“TA” on his cape) drawn from the lead character of a series of B movies from years ago, as Bob has in the past. The picture is modified. The problem is serious.
Also attending from Oregon was Kent Anger representing the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center to extend it’s recognition throughout the western US state region, and Dan Cain of the Oregon State Health Department who described the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]).
The meeting presentations will be available here; the agenda is on this site now.