National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health | 26 May 2016

Can the Workplace Be a Social Health Network?

With recent changes to health care and the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, many companies are implementing workplace health programs and initiatives. Although this is a positive step toward facilitating a healthy workforce, it remains to be seen whether simply having programs will result in better health.

In order to measure the success or progress toward achieving total worker health (TWH), organizations need to do more than just tally up the number of worker safety, health, and well-being programs they have in place. Equally important is workers’ perspective of the climate for health that exists within the organization. Social climate has an impact on the decisions (including health decisions) that individuals make as well as the resources that are available to make those decisions. To maximize the impact of workplace health and safety programs, support for initiatives needs to come from three levels: the organization, the supervisors, and fellow workers.

A new tool has been developed for organizations to identify possible shortcomings in any one of these three facets of health climate, the Multifaceted Organizational Heath Climate Assessment (MOHCA) scale. Research findings have shown that strength in all three facets of health climate are associated with improvements in health and well-being outcomes.

PubMed | 23 May 2016

Association Between Occupational Exposure to Benzene and Chromosomal Alterations in Lymphocytes of Brazilian Petrochemical Workers Removed From Exposure

This paper investigates the association between chronic exposure to benzene and genotoxicity in the lymphocytes of workers removed from exposure. The study included 20 workers with hematological disorders who had previously worked in the petrochemical industry of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; 16 workers without occupational exposure to benzene served as the control group.

An association was observed between chromosomal gaps and breaks and occupational exposure to benzene. The study showed that, even when removed from exposure for several years, workers still demonstrated genotoxic damage. Studies are still needed to clarify the long-term genotoxic potential of benzene after removal from exposure.

Occupational & Environmental Medicine | 19 May 2016

Interventions To Increase the Reporting of Occupational Diseases by Physicians

Under-reporting of occupational diseases is an important issue in many countries. Timely and complete reporting is fundamental to a successful physician-based public health surveillance system and to plan intervention programs and allocation of resources.

For physicians, the main reasons for under-reporting consist of lack of awareness regarding reporting requirements, time and effort involved in reporting, and lack of benefit from reporting.

There are no systematic reviews of the effects of interventions for increasing the reporting (or reducing the under-reporting) of occupational diseases. Therefore, a Cochrane systematic review was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing the reporting of occupational diseases by physicians.

Occupational & Environmental Medicine | 19 May 2016

International Perspective on Common Core Competencies for Occupational Physicians

The competencies required of occupational physicians (OPs) have been the subject of peer-reviewed research in Europe and individual countries around the world. In the European Union (EU), there has been development of guidance on training and common competencies, but little research has extended beyond this. The aim of this study was to obtain consensus on and identify the common core competencies required of OPs around the world.

A modified Delphi study was carried out among representative organizations and networks of OPs in a range of countries around the world. It was conducted in two rounds using a questionnaire based on the specialist training syllabus of a number of countries, expert panel reviews and conference discussions.

Responses were received from 51 countries around the world, with the majority from Europe (60%; 59%) and North and South America (24%; 32%) in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively. General principles of assessment and management of occupational hazards to health and good clinical care were jointly considered most important in ranking when compared with the other topic areas. Assessment of disability and fitness for work, communication skills, and legal and ethical issues completed the top five. In both rounds, research methods and teaching and educational supervision were considered least important.

These findings can serve as a platform for the development of common core competencies/qualifications within specific geographical regions or internationally. This is particularly pertinent with globalization of commerce and free movement within the EU.

OSHA | 16 May 2016

OSHA Plans To Make Public Data on Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on 11 May issued a final rule to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public, and OSHA about workplace hazards. With this new rule, OSHA is applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses.

OSHA requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses to help these employers and their employees identify hazards, fix problems, and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than 3 million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year. Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency’s website.

Just as public disclosure of their kitchens’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “Our new reporting requirements will nudge employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers, and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable big data researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”


The Huffington Post | 3 May 2016

Column: How the Private Sector Can Help End Malaria for Good

PubMed | 3 May 2016

The Effect of Exposure to High Noise Levels on the Performance and Rate of Error in Manual Activities

Sound is among the significant environmental factors for people’s health, and it has an important role in both physical and psychological injuries. It also affects individuals’ performance and productivity. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of exposure to high noise levels on the performance and rate of error in manual activities.

The results revealed a direct and significant association between the levels of sound and the length of performance. Moreover, the participant’s performance was significantly different for different sound levels. This study found that a sound level of 110 dB had an important effect on the individuals’ performances (i.e., the performances were decreased).

The Philadelphia Inquirer | 28 April 2016

More Airborne-Particulate Monitoring Coming to Marcellus Shale Areas

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced on 27 April that it will expand its network of systems monitoring fine airborne particulates in Marcellus shale production areas.

The DEP said it would add 10 monitoring sites to its existing network of 27, positioning the metering stations near shale-gas wells and compressor stations in Marcellus shale production areas.

“We need that data and monitoring capability to help us understand whether or not there are risks or impacts to public health from current air quality in these areas,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley.

Safety and Health Magazine | 21 April 2016

Study: Working Long Hours May Raise Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Working more than 45 hours per week may increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, according to a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, researchers examined data of more than 1,900 people who worked a minimum of a decade from 1986 to 2011. About 43% of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease (CVD) event diagnosed by a doctor during the study period. CVD events included angina, coronary heart disease or failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke.

After adjusting for participants’ age, gender, race and wage status, researchers found that risk of a CVD event rose by 1% for each additional hour worked each week during at least 10 years in full-time workers.


Sandbox Advisors | 21 April 2016

Business Travel Tips: Harmful Effects You Need To Manage

Even though a job that requires you to travel all over the country or the world, three to four times a month looks appealing, it can be very detrimental to your health.

Frequent business travelers should be concerned about their health as the job comes with a broad range of physiological, psychological, emotional, and social side-effects. This is confirmed by separate studies done at Columbia University, the University of Surrey, and several others.

So before giving up your office job and globe trotting on your company’s dime, you should consider the harmful health effects frequent business travelers face. Or, if you’re already a heavy traveller, then think about how you can reduce the negative impact.

Reuters | 28 March 2016

US Regulators Finalize New Silica Limits

Capping a decades-long effort, US workplace regulators on 24 March announced a final rule to boost protections against occupational exposure to crystalline silica, a carcinogenic dust ubiquitous in construction, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing operations.

Some industry groups have vowed to fight it in court and in the US Congress, calling it unnecessary and warning that compliance will cost billions of dollars.

Issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the rule lowers the exposure limit for silica dust for the first time since 1971 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The levels had been set at 250 micrograms for construction and 100 micrograms for other industries.

It also requires employers to monitor silica in the workplace, use specific methods to reduce exposure, and provide medical exams to workers, among other measures.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration | 2 March 2016

Texas OSHA Offices Renew Two Alliances To Protect Oil and Gas Workers

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA’s) Dallas Regional Office and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) renewed their alliance to improve the safety and health of workers in the oil and gas well-servicing industry. AESC, along with its member companies, will work closely with OSHA to continually improve and build upon existing training and educational initiatives, outreach and communication initiatives, and workplace health, safety, and environmental initiatives.
OSHA’s Lubbock, Texas, Area Office and the West Texas Safety Training Center in Odessa renewed an alliance to increase awareness of employers’ responsibilities and to promote the rights of workers in the construction, general, and oil and gas industries over the next 3 years.

“Since our alliance began more than 8 years ago, West Texas Safety Training Center has been an excellent agency partner, communicating safety and health information to employers and workers in the petrochemical , construction, and other industries,” said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock.