Category Archives: Health & Safety

Testing a Path Model of Organizational Justice and Correctional Staff Job Stress Among Southern Correctional Staff

Source: Eric G. Lambert, Linda D. Keena, Stacy H. Haynes, David May, Rosemary Ricciardelli, Matthew Leone, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Volume 46 Issue 10, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Job stress has many negative effects on correctional staff. We proposed and tested a path model of transactional, procedural, and distributive justice’s direct and indirect effects on the job stress of 322 surveyed correctional staff, including 219 correctional officers, at a maximum security Southern prison. Findings indicated that procedural, distributive, and transactional justice affected job stress. Specifically, the proposed path model was supported, such that procedural justice had an indirect effect on job stress through distributive justice, and transactional and distributive justice had direct, negative effects on job stress. Transactional justice also had indirect effects on job stress through procedural and distributive justice. Taken together, the results suggest that organizational justice plays an important role in reducing correctional staff job stress.

Workers Are Falling Ill, Even Dying, After Making Kitchen Countertops

Source: Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR, Morning Edition, October 2, 2019

Artificial stone used to make kitchen and bathroom countertops has been linked to cases of death and irreversible lung injury in workers who cut, grind and polish this increasingly popular material.

The fear is that thousands of workers in the United States who create countertops out of what’s known as “engineered stone” may be inhaling dangerous amounts of lung-damaging silica dust, because engineered stone is mostly made of the mineral silica…… While all this silica isn’t a concern once the countertop is installed in a kitchen or bathroom, it is a potential problem for the businesses that cut slabs of this artificial stone to the right shape for customers…..

….In 2016, OSHA issued new workplace limits on how much silica could be in the air. This controversial new rule reduced the permissible exposure level to half of what it had been. Safety experts hailed the new, tighter limit as an important step forward; the previous regulations had been based on decades-old science, they said. But many industry groups opposed it. A year later, the incoming Trump administration ended the safety agency’s national emphasis program for silica. That program would have allowed OSHA to target the countertop fabrication industry for special inspections, says Michaels. …. Without that program, says Michaels, OSHA is limited in what it can legally do. OSHA can investigate a workplace injury or a complaint. But these workers, some of whom are undocumented immigrants with few employment options, are unlikely to complain…..

Highlights from occupational safety and health continuing education needs assessment

Source: Joshua G. Scott, Erin Shore, Carol Brown, Carisa Harris, Mitchel A. Rosen, American Journal of Industrial Medicine,
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
There is a lack of trained Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) professionals able to meet the current and future demand for such expertize in the United States. Many OSH professionals are required to perform duties, which are outside of their primary area of expertize; thus, expansion of continuing education (CE) may be necessary to properly train individuals for new OSH responsibilities.

Methods:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health‐funded Education and Research Centers collectively developed and distributed an internet‐based survey to gauge the CE needs and interests of the OSH workforce.

Results:
A total of 2064 responses were received. The most common primary professions represented were safety (28%), occupational health nursing (18%), and industrial hygiene (12%). The majority of respondents (61%) reported that they perform work activities outside of those associated with their primary OSH profession. The CE offerings with the highest interest among respondents were related to safety. Other courses with high levels of interest included topics such as legal issues in OSH (88%), compliance (88%), risk management (85%), OSH management (83%), risk communication (83%), and communication in accident prevention (81%). Health and safety leadership (82%), health and safety culture (78%) and total worker health (74%) were also significant interests.

Conclusions:
It is important to be responsive to the evolving needs of the OS&H community. Developing relevant courses will help ensure that OS&H professionals have access to the training they need to perform essential job functions and keep employees healthy and safe.

After The Fall: Safeguarding Employees’ Mental Health After Workplace Injuries

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36, Issue 18, September 4, 2019
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An employee trips and falls at work and sustains a significant knee injury. She needs surgery and misses months of work while recovering. You know she’s receiving good care for her physical injuries, but do you need to also be concerned about her mental health?

Related:
Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury
Source: Katie M. Applebaum, Abay Asfaw, Paul K. O’Leary, Andrew Busey, Yorghos Tripodis, Leslie I. Boden, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 62 Issue 9, September 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Drug overdoses and suicides have been rising since 2000 and are major contributors to a 3‐year decline in US life expectancy. Studies suggest that injured workers have elevated rates of depression and opioid use, but no studies have measured excess mortality related to these risks.

Materials and methods:
We linked New Mexico workers’ compensation data for 100 806 workers injured in 1994 through 2000 with Social Security Administration earnings and mortality data through 2013 and National Death Index cause of death data. We then estimated the association between receiving lost‐time workers’ compensation benefits and mortality hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on Fine and Gray cause‐specific subdistribution hazards for common causes of death and for drug‐related, suicide, and alcohol‐related mortality.

Results:
There was almost a 3‐fold increase in combined drug‐related and suicide mortality hazard among women (HR = 2.63, 95% CI = 1.91‐3.64) and a substantial increase among men (HR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.13‐1.79). Circulatory disease mortality hazard was elevated for men (HR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.05‐1.50).

Conclusion:
Workplace injuries severe enough to require more than a week off work may impair workers’ long‐term health and well‐being. Drug‐related deaths and suicides may be important contributors to the long‐term excess mortality of injured workers. Improved workplace conditions, improved pain treatment, better treatment of substance use disorders, and treatment of postinjury depression may substantially reduce mortality consequent to workplace injuries.

Artificial intelligence: Implications for the future of work

Source: John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, August 22, 2019

From the abstract:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad transdisciplinary field with roots in logic, statistics, cognitive psychology, decision theory, neuroscience, linguistics, cybernetics, and computer engineering. The modern field of AI began at a small summer workshop at Dartmouth College in 1956. Since then, AI applications made possible by machine learning (ML), an AI subdiscipline, include Internet searches, e‐commerce sites, goods and services recommender systems, image and speech recognition, sensor technologies, robotic devices, and cognitive decision support systems (DSSs). As more applications are integrated into everyday life, AI is predicted to have a globally transformative influence on economic and social structures similar to the effect that other general‐purpose technologies, such as steam engines, railroads, electricity, electronics, and the Internet, have had. Novel AI applications in the workplace of the future raise important issues for occupational safety and health. This commentary reviews the origins of AI, use of ML methods, and emerging AI applications embedded in physical objects like sensor technologies, robotic devices, or operationalized in intelligent DSSs. Selected implications on the future of work arising from the use of AI applications, including job displacement from automation and management of human‐machine interactions, are also reviewed. Engaging in strategic foresight about AI workplace applications will shift occupational research and practice from a reactive posture to a proactive one. Understanding the possibilities and challenges of AI for the future of work will help mitigate the unfavorable effects of AI on worker safety, health, and well‐being.

Survey: What Employees Want Most from Their Workspaces

Source: Jeanne C. Meister, Harvard Business Review, August 26, 2019

…. Surprisingly, we found employees want the basics first: better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace. Half of the employees we surveyed said poor air quality makes them sleepier during the day, and more than a third reported up to an hour in lost productivity as a result. In fact, air quality and light were the biggest influencers of employee performance, happiness, and wellbeing, while fitness facilities and technology-based health tools were the most trivial.

Organizations have the power to make improvements in these areas, and they need to, both for their workers and themselves. A high-quality workplace — one with natural light, good ventilation, and comfortable temperatures — can reduce absenteeism up to four days a year.  With unscheduled absenteeism costing companies an estimated $3,600 annually per hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried workers, this can have a major impact on your bottom line. ….

“Felony assault should stick:” Assaulted EMS responders’ frustration and dissatisfaction with the legal system

Source: Jasmine Y. Wright, Andrea L. Davis, Sherry Brandt‐Rauf, Jennifer A. Taylor, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: August 16, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction:
The prevalence of violence to first responders is reported in ranges of approximately 40% to 90%. Pennsylvania has a felonious assault statute to address such violence, but the prosecutorial process has been noted to cause first‐responder dissatisfaction.

Methods:
An exploratory qualitative study using individual interviews with snowball sampling was conducted with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to understand the prosecutorial process when a first responder is assaulted and injured in a line of duty. The Philadelphia Fire Department provided a list of first responders who sustained a work‐related injury from a patient or bystander assault so that particular cases could be discussed during the interviews.

Results:
Emergent themes fell into two categories: factors that lead to a charge (prosecutorial merit, intent, and victim investment), and the judge’s discretion in sentencing (“part of the job” mentality, concern for the defendant, and the justice system’s offender focus). Immediately actionable tertiary prevention recommendations for fire departments, labor unions, and district attorney’s offices were developed.

Conclusion:
Violence against fire‐based emergency medical service (EMS) responders is a persistent and preventable workplace hazard. While felonious assault statutes express society’s value that it is unacceptable to harm a first responder, this study found that such statutes failed to provide satisfaction to victims and that support when going through the court process is lacking. Assaulted EMS responders, their employers, and labor unions would benefit from the recommendations provided herein to help them extract a stronger sense of procedural justice from the legal process.

Assessing the impact of health and safety training: Increased behavioral change and organizational performance

Source: Ruth Ruttenberg, Carol Rice, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, August 5, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Annual health and safety refresher training is mandated for workers in a number of employment sectors and also is used to maintain and enhance skills when not legally required.

Methods:
One year following training, hazardous waste worker training participants were asked if the training had been applied at their work or in the community, corresponding to Kirkpatrick levels of training evaluation. Likely response themes were drafted by the authors using qualitative data coding.

Results:
Of the 1,726 refresher participants, 1,094 (63%) provided an entry. Eight theme categories were adapted from the originals, spanning the activities trainees reported as applications of their training: events, actions, awareness, emergency response, equipment, planning and standard operating procedures, training, and use of written resources.

Conclusions:
Asking participants to reflect on how training has been applied provides an opportunity to describe workplace changes made during the past year. Participants documented that training resulted in actions to protect them from hazardous exposures. Specific events where training was used and where actions were taken to improve health and safety represent Kirkpatrick Levels III and IV applications of training. Collecting similar data may be useful to others wishing to identify impacts of training and can be integrated into routine program assessment.

Decline in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses following the implementation of a paid sick leave law in Connecticut

Source: Devan Hawkins, Junli Zhu, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, July 22, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:

Background:
Workers with paid sick leave may have a lower rate of occupational injuries compared with other workers. This study sought to determine whether there was a decline in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses following the implementation of a paid sick leave law in Connecticut (CT).

Methods:
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was used to calculate the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses in CT in the 3 years before (2009‐11) and after (2012‐14) the law was implemented. These numbers were compared with New York (NY) and the United States, and between the occupations specified by the CT law and other occupations.

Results:
Among service occupations addressed by the CT paid‐sick‐leave law, the rate of occupational injuries declined more in CT compared to rates for those same occupations in NY and the United States. Within CT, injury and illness rates showed a greater decline in occupations specified by the law (−17.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −15.6‐−19.9) compared with other occupations (−6.8%; 95% CI = −6.6%‐−7.0%) between the two periods.

Conclusions:
A paid sick leave law was associated with an increased decline in occupational injuries and illnesses in affected service workers in the period after implementation. Further research should examine the possible reasons for the associations seen here.

Associations between daily‐on‐the job hassles with perceived mental exertion and depression symptoms in taxi drivers

Source: Barbara J. Burgel, Rami A. Elshatarat, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, July 22, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:

Introduction:
Taxi drivers experience frequent hassles that may contribute to mental exertion and depression symptoms.

Aim:
Mental exertion and depression symptoms in taxi drivers are explored in association with hassles, effort‐reward imbalance, job strain, and iso‐strain.

Methods:
Personal interviews were conducted with 130 drivers in San Francisco.

Results:
Mental exertion averaged 4.5 (±2.68) and physical exertion averaged 3.71 (±2.1) on 0 to 10 Borg scales. Based on the Center for Epidemiological Studies‐Depression scale, 38% had depression symptoms. Mental exertion and depression symptoms correlated with job strain, iso‐strain and effort‐reward imbalance in anticipated directions, lending construct validity to the Borg mental exertion scale. Physical exertion, night shift, stressful personal events, and being uninsured for healthcare predicted mental exertion. Lack of respect by dispatchers and stressful personal events predicted depression symptoms.

Conclusion:
Selected hassles may be remedied by communication trainings, emphasizing mutual respect. Recognition and treatment of depression in taxi drivers are important.