Category Archives: Health & Safety

What every healthcare facility should do NOW to reduce the potential for workplace violence

Source: Thomas A. Smith, Journal of Healthcare Protection Management, Volume 34 Number 2, 2018
(subscription required)

The increase in workplace violence in healthcare facilities is now recognized by OSHA and other regulatory bodies as well as IAHSS, major nursing organizations, and the Joint Commission according to the author. In this article he reports on the causes and effects of such violence and presents security guidelines for taking action to reduce it as well as how COOs can be convinced to support such action.

Work-related asthma from cleaning agents versus other agents

Source: R W H Li, J C Lipszyc, S Prasad, S M Tarlo, Occupational Medicine, Advance Articles, November 13, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Cleaning agents have been commonly implicated as causative or triggering factors in work-related asthma (WRA), mainly from epidemiologic studies. Relatively few clinical series have been reported.

Aims:
We aimed to compare socio-demographic and clinical features among tertiary clinic patients with WRA exposed to cleaning and non-cleaning products.

Methods:
Analyses were conducted on a patient database containing 208 patients with probable WRA referred to the asthma and airway centre at a tertiary centre hospital in Canada from 2000 to 2014. Chi-squared and independent samples t-tests were used to analyse categorical and continuous data, respectively.

Results:
Twenty-two (11%) WRA cases were attributed to a variety of cleaning product exposures, 12 were diagnosed as occupational asthma (OA) and 10 as work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) (10% of all OA and 11% of all WEA). There were multiple exposures and the responsible agent(s) could seldom be clearly identified. Most frequent categories of exposure were surfactants, alcohols, disinfectants and acids. Compared to WRA with other exposures, those with cleaning agent exposures had a significantly larger proportion of females (82 versus 35%, P < 0.001), included a higher percentage of workers in healthcare (41 versus 4%, P < 0.001), and submitted more workers’ compensation claims (86 versus 64%, P = 0.05). Other characteristics were comparable. Conclusions: In a tertiary referral clinic, patients with WRA from cleaning agent exposure had clinical characteristics that were similar to those with WRA from other causes. Most frequent exposures were surfactants, alcohols, disinfectants and acids.

Workers’ compensation injury claims among workers in the private ambulance services industry—Ohio, 2001–2011

Source: Audrey A. Reichard, Ibraheem S. Al‐Tarawneh, Srinivas Konda, Chia Wei, Steven J. Wurzelbacher, Alysha R. Meyers, Stephen J. Bertke, P. Timothy Bushnell, Chih‐Yu Tseng, Michael P. Lampl, David C. Robins, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 61 Issue 12, December 2018

From the abstract:
Background:
Ambulance service workers frequently transfer and transport patients. These tasks involve occupational injury risks such as heavy lifting, awkward postures, and frequent motor vehicle travel.

Methods:
We examined Ohio workers’ compensation injury claims among state‐insured ambulance service workers working for private employers from 2001 to 2011. Injury claim counts and rates are presented by claim types, diagnoses, and injury events; only counts are available by worker characteristics.

Results:
We analyzed a total of 5882 claims. The majority were medical‐only (<8 days away from work). The overall injury claim rate for medical‐only and lost‐time cases was 12.1 per 100 full‐time equivalents. Sprains and strains accounted for 60% of all injury claims. Overexertion from patient handling was the leading injury event, followed by motor vehicle roadway incidents. Conclusions: Study results can guide the development or improvement of injury prevention strategies. Focused efforts related to patient handling and vehicle incidents are needed.

Knee pain in nursing home workers after implementation of a safe resident handling program

Source: Judith E. Gold, Alicia Kurowski, Rebecca J. Gore, Laura Punnett, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 61 Issue 10, October 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose:
Approximately 25‐30% of nursing personnel experience knee pain (KP). We sought to identify physical and psychosocial work exposures, and personal factors related to prevalent, incident, and persistent KP 5‐8 years after safe resident handing program (SRHP) implementation in nursing homes.

Methods:
Health and exposure information was obtained from worker surveys 5‐6 years (“F5”) and 7‐8 years (“F6”) post‐SRHP implementation. Prevalent KP correlates were examined at F5; persistent and incident KP predictors were analyzed at F6, utilizing robust Poisson multivariable regression.

Results:
F5 KP prevalence (19.7%) was associated with combined physical exposures, and with either high job strain or low social support, in separate models. Two‐year persistent KP was similarly associated with these psychosocial exposures. Being overweight was associated with KP in all analyses.

Conclusions:
The SRHP program did not eliminate knee physical loading, which should be reduced to prevent nursing home worker KP. Workplace psychosocial exposures (high job strain, low social support) also appeared germane.

Schools in Florida are spending thousands on active shooter insurance

Source: Sarika Ram, MuckRock, August 16, 2018

Recently released records show districts budgeting up to six figures on insurance policies, safety training, and police presence

High profile school shootings in recent years have offered enterprising insurance companies with a business opportunity – and burdened districts budgets with thousands of dollars in new expenses.

This school year, some Florida public school districts have invested in active shooter protection insurance policies and other security-related programming, such as active shooter response training.

According to the insurance policy obtained in a recent public records request, Palm Beach Public School District has paid a $100,000 premium to McGowan Program Administrators, a leader in the active shooter insurance industry, for active shooter protection this academic year.

They Say Their Buildings Are Making Them Sick. Administrators Say They’ve Done All They Can.

Source: Teghan Simonton, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 21, 2018

….Academic workplaces are not generally known for their environmental dangers. But at least a dozen faculty members say such dangers have become a central part of working at this mid-size public university in east-central Pennsylvania.

In at least three buildings, faculty members have for years complained about mold, water damage, humidity, climate control, asbestos, and radon. They’ve taken pictures. They’ve cataloged health issues like skin rashes, asthma, and allergies. They share suspicions that health problems caused by the buildings’ poor conditions could be much graver than just a cough here, a nosebleed there.

Mahoney, and others, say the university has money to fix the problems permanently but chooses to spend it elsewhere. The administration, however, disputes the severity or extent of the complaints raised by the faculty and some of the staff. They say the majority of issues are raised by just a “handful” of people with a higher-than-normal sensitivity to air quality. And, the administration says, many of them have not actually brought their issues and concerns to the administration….

Protecting workers in the home care industry: workers’ experienced job demands, resource gaps, and benefits following a socially supportive intervention

Source: Linda Mabry, Kelsey N. Parker, Sharon V. Thompson, Katrina M. Bettencourt, Afsara Haque, Kristy Luther Rhoten, Home Health Care Services Quarterly, Volume 37 Issue 3, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Community of Practice and Safety Support (COMPASS) program is a peer-led group intervention for home care workers. In a randomized controlled trial, COMPASS significantly improved workers’ professional support networks and safety and health behaviors. However, quantitative findings failed to capture workers’ complex emotional, physical, and social experiences with job demands, resource limitations, and the intervention itself. Therefore, we conducted qualitative follow-up interviews with a sample of participants (n = 28) in the program. Results provided examples of unique physical and psychological demands, revealed stressful resource limitations (e.g., safety equipment access), and elucidated COMPASS’s role as a valuable resource.

Effects of environmental stressors on daily governance

Source: Nick Obradovich, Dustin Tingley, and Iyad Rahwan, Proceedings on the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), August 13, 2018

Significance:
Public servants are often first responders to disasters, and the day-to-day completion of their jobs aids public health and safety. However, with respect to their individual psychological and physiological responses to environmental stressors, public sector workers may be harmed in much the same way as other citizens in society. We find that exposure to hotter temperatures reduces the activity of two groups of regulators—police officers and food safety inspectors—at times that the risks they are tasked with overseeing are highest. Given that we observe these effects in a country with high political institutionalization, our findings may have implications for the impacts of climate change on the functioning of regulatory governance in countries with lower political and economic development.

Abstract:
Human workers ensure the functioning of governments around the world. The efficacy of human workers, in turn, is linked to the climatic conditions they face. Here we show that the same weather that amplifies human health hazards also reduces street-level government workers’ oversight of these hazards. To do so, we employ US data from over 70 million regulatory police stops between 2000 and 2017, from over 500,000 fatal vehicular crashes between 2001 and 2015, and from nearly 13 million food safety violations across over 4 million inspections between 2012 and 2016. We find that cold and hot temperatures increase fatal crash risk and incidence of food safety violations while also decreasing police stops and food safety inspections. Added precipitation increases fatal crash risk while also decreasing police stops. We examine downscaled general circulation model output to highlight the possible day-to-day governance impacts of climate change by 2050 and 2099. Future warming may augment regulatory oversight during cooler seasons. During hotter seasons, however, warming may diminish regulatory oversight while simultaneously amplifying the hazards government workers are tasked with overseeing.