Category Archives: Health & Safety

#MeTooWhatNext: Strengthening Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections and Accountability

Source: Maya Raghu & JoAnna Suriani, December 2017

From the summary:
Employees are protected from workplace sexual harassment – a form of sex discrimination defined as unwelcome attention or behavior that workers experience because of their sex – by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. Almost every state also has some form of workplace antidiscrimination law providing protections. Yet sexual harassment remains a widespread problem, affecting workers in every state, in every kind of workplace setting and industry, and at every level of employment. In Federal Fiscal Year 2016, nearly 30,000 harassment charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); nearly one-quarter of those charges alleged sexual harassment, and 83.4 percent of sexual harassment charges were brought by women. But the charge statistics do not even begin to represent the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace, given that a survey found that 70 percent of workers who experience sexual harassment say they have never reported it. Whether suffering harassment from supervisors, coworkers, or third parties, such as customers, most victims of harassment are suffering in silence.

Related:
ISSUE PAGE: #MeTooWhatNext

FACT SHEET: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: FAQ About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Why Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment
FACT SHEET: Fair Employment Protection Act (S. 3089, H.R. 5693) Section-by-Section Summary
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Restoring Protections from Workplace Harassment

Union Women: #MeToo & #TIMESUP Movement
Source: Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), 2018

Top 10 Things Unions Can Do Right Now to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Source: Ana Avendaño and Linda Seabrook, On Labor blog, November 10, 2017

…. The following are practices that unions could adopt right now to address sexual harassment in America’s workplaces:

1)      Recognize that sexual harassment is a workers’ rights issue. ….
2)      Make sure that the union’s constitution and collectively bargained agreements contain guarantees against sexual harassment and retaliation. ….
3)      Address member-on-member harassment. ….
4)      Create a union culture that connects union values and behavior and welcomes women as equal partners in the struggle for social and economic justice. ….
5)      Focus on prevention. ….
6)      Encourage men—especially male leaders—to step up, speak out, and work to change the culture. ….
7)      Create channels for members, union staff and others to report harassment quickly, before it escalates, without having to resort to formal mechanisms. ….
8)      Train stewards in trauma-informed practices on handling claims of harassment. ….
9)      Protect victims who file charges of harassment against retaliation. ….
10)   Give women a voice in the grievance process, and include them as active participants. ….

Same-level fall injuries in US workplaces by age group, gender, and industry

Source: Kenneth A. Scott, Gwenith G. Fisher, Anna E. Barón, Emile Tompa, Lorann Stallones and Carolyn DiGuiseppi, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 2, February 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
As the workforce ages, occupational injuries from falls on the same level will increase. Some industries may be more affected than others.

Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate same-level fall injury incidence rates by age group, gender, and industry for four sectors: 1) healthcare and social assistance; 2) manufacturing; 3) retail; and 4) transportation and warehousing. We calculated rate ratios and rate differences by age group and gender.

Results
Same-level fall injury incidence rates increase with age in all four sectors. However, patterns of rate ratios and rate differences vary by age group, gender, and industry. Younger workers, men, and manufacturing workers generally have lower rates.
Conclusions

Variation in incidence rates suggests there are unrealized opportunities to prevent same-level fall injuries. Interventions should be evaluated for their effectiveness at reducing injuries, avoiding gender- or age-discrimination and improving work ability.

Death in the Trench

Source: Jim Morris, Center for Public Integrity, December 14, 2017

Jim Spencer suffocated under a pile of dirt in Nebraska — a grim reminder of the weakness of America’s worker-safety law. ….

…. The general contractor overseeing the building of the house, Clau-Chin Construction, had outsourced the trench-digging to an excavation contractor, Larry Kessler Construction. Interviewed by officials with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after Spencer’s death, the owners of both companies – Shaun Houchin, of Clau-Chin, and Kessler —  professed ignorance of the OSHA trenching standard. Both were cited and assessed fines of $24,800 and $16,800, respectively. “To me, that was nothing,” Cheryl Spencer says. “How is it you can kill somebody with a car and get charged with vehicular homicide, and kill somebody in a trench and get a slap on the wrist?” It’s a fair question. The unsatisfying answer is that the protection of workers is not a priority in the United States. ….

The Effectiveness of Guided Imagery in Treating Compassion Fatigue and Anxiety of Mental Health Workers

Source: Kimberly A Kiley, Ashwini R Sehgal, Susan Neth, Jacqueline Dolata, Earl Pike, James C Spilsbury, Jeffrey M Albert, Social Work Research, Advance Articles, Published: January 4, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Mental health professionals’ exposure to clients’ traumatic experiences can result in elevated stress, including compassion fatigue and burnout. Experiencing symptoms of these types of stress can hinder workers’ ability to provide effective services. If a tool can reduce these symptoms, there is potential benefit for workers as well as those receiving their services. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of prerecorded guided imagery (GI) on compassion fatigue and state anxiety. A total of 69 employees of a mental health nonprofit organization participated in this two-arm randomized controlled trial. Participants completed the Professional Quality of Life Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, and question 6 from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index at baseline and follow-up, and completed State Trait Anxiety Inventory short form before and after each activity (GI or taking a break). Results revealed statistically significant differences in change scores between the control and experimental groups for state anxiety and sleep quality. The results suggest that GI may be useful for reducing stress for mental health professionals, which could have positive implications for quality of service delivery.

Florida’s disposable workers: Companies profit from undocumented laborers, dump them after injuries

Source: Maria Perez, Naples Daily News, December 14, 2017

Florida law makes some immigrants in high-risk jobs disposable, allowing businesses and insurers to benefit from their work without covering injuries. …. Some Florida businesses profit from the labor of unauthorized immigrants after accepting phony identification when hiring them, and then the employers or their insurers report them after a work injury for using false documents, a yearlong Naples Daily News investigation found. ….

Dying on the Job in Mississippi: Lack of Adequate Protection for Injured Workers Hurts Families and Communities

Source: Deborah Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project (NELP), December 2017

From the introduction:
Every day, more than a million workers in Mississippi head to work to support their families and communities. They work in industries such as shipbuilding, catfish and poultry processing, steel mills, retail, construction, agriculture, healthcare, auto manufacturing, and furniture and wood products manufacturing. Many of these jobs can be dangerous—where job hazards cause serious injuries. In fact, Mississippi workers face one of the highest on-the-job fatality rates of any state in the nation. Furthermore, Mississippi workers suffer hundreds of severe injuries every year and face a workers’ compensation system where benefits are so low that injured workers and their families are at risk of falling into poverty.

Violence against emergency medical services personnel: A systematic review of the literature

Source: Brian J. Maguire, Peter O’Meara, Barbara. O’Neill, and Richard Brightwell, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, November 27, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
Violence against emergency medical services (EMS) personnel is a growing concern. The aim of this systematic review is to synthesize the current literature on violence against EMS personnel.

Methods
We examined literature from 2000 to 2016. Eligibility criteria included English-language, peer-reviewed studies of EMS personnel that described violence or assaults. Sixteen searches identified 2655 studies; 25 studies from nine countries met the inclusion criteria.

Results
The evidence from this review demonstrates that violence is a common risk for EMS personnel. We identified three critical topic areas: changes in risk over time, economic impact of violence and, outcomes of risk-reduction interventions. There is a lack of peer reviewed research of interventions, with the result that current intervention programs have no reliable evidence base.

Conclusions
EMS leaders and personnel should work together with researchers to design, implement, evaluate and publish intervention studies designed to mitigate risks of violence to EMS personnel.

Precarious schedules linked with workplace aggression in a high-risk occupation

Source: David A. Hurtado, Lisset M. Dumet, Samuel A. Greenspan, Miguel Marino and Kimberly Bernard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, November 21, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction
Night work and prolonged work hours increase the risk for workplace aggression, however, the risk related to precarious schedules remains unknown.

Methods
Cross-sectional study among Parole Probation Officers (PPOs) (n = 35). A precarious schedules index was created including the following indicators (a) experiencing one or more unexpected shifts during the last 4 weeks; (b) having minimal control over work hours; and (c) shifts notifications of less than a week. Generalized Poisson Regressions estimated the association between precarious schedules and self-reported client-based aggressive incidents (verbal, threating, property, or physical) during the last 12 months.

Results
Workplace aggression was highly prevalent (94.3%). PPOs who experienced precarious schedules (74.3% prevalence) had an adjusted rate of workplace aggression 1.55 times greater than PPOs without precarious schedules (IRR = 1.55, 95% CI 1.25, 1.97, P < 0.001). Conclusions Precarious schedules were associated with workplace aggression. Further research ought to examine whether improving schedule predictability may reduce client-based aggression.

Workplace violence injury in 106 US hospitals participating in the Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN), 2012-2015

Source: Matthew R. Groenewold, Raymond F.R. Sarmiento, Kelly Vanoli, William Raudabaugh, Susan Nowlin and Ahmed Gomaa, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, OnlineFirst, November 20, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
Workplace violence is a substantial occupational hazard for healthcare workers in the United States.

Methods
We analyzed workplace violence injury surveillance data submitted by hospitals participating in the Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) from 2012 to 2015.

Results
Data were frequently missing for several important variables. Nursing assistants (14.89, 95%CI 10.12-21.91) and nurses (8.05, 95%CI 6.14-10.55) had the highest crude workplace violence injury rates per 1000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Nursing assistants’ (IRR 2.82, 95%CI 2.36-3.36) and nurses’ (IRR 1.70, 95%CI 1.45-1.99) adjusted workplace violence injury rates were significantly higher than those of non-patient care personnel. On average, the overall rate of workplace violence injury among OHSN-participating hospitals increased by 23% annually during the study period.

Conclusion
Improved data collection is needed for OHSN to realize its full potential. Workplace violence is a serious, increasingly common problem in OHSN-participating hospitals. Nursing assistants and nurses have the highest injury risk.