Category Archives: Health & Safety

Job Stress and Health of Elementary and Secondary School Educators in the United States

Source: Paul A. Landsbergis, Elina Shtridler, Amy Bahruth, Darryl Alexander, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, Volume 30 Issue 3, November 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Elementary and secondary school educators face many work stressors, which appear to be increasing due to economic, political, and social trends. Therefore, we analyzed data from a 2017 national American Federation of Teachers survey of U.S. education staff, including data from two New York School districts that have adopted collaborative labor-management practices. The national American Federation of Teachers sample of educators reported significantly higher prevalences of several work stressors and poorer physical and mental health compared to the U.S. workers overall, adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Compared with educators nationally, educators in districts with collaborative labor-management practices did not have a consistently higher or lower prevalence of work stressors or poorer health. Findings suggest the importance of reducing work stressors among U.S. educators. Results should be interpreted with caution due to the low educator survey response rate.

The Risk Of Severe COVID-19 Within Households Of School Employees And School-Age Children

Source: Thomas M. Selden, Terceira A. Berdahl, and Zhengyi Fang, Health Affairs, Vol. 39 no. 11, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Across the United States, school districts are grappling with questions of whether and how to reopen and keep open elementary and secondary schools in the 2020–21 academic year. Using household data from before the pandemic (2014–17), we examined how often people who have health conditions placing them at risk for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were connected to schools, either as employees or by living in the same households as school employees or school-age children. Between 42.0 percent and 51.4 percent of all school employees met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) definition of having or potentially having increased risk for severe COVID-19. Among all adults with CDC-defined risk factors for severe COVID-19, between 33.9 million and 44.2 million had direct or within-household connections to schools.

Workers’ compensation claims among private skilled nursing facilities, Ohio, 2001–2012

Source: Ashley M. Bush, Audrey A. Reichard, Steven J. Wurzelbacher, Chih‐Yu Tseng, Michael P. Lampl, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 12, December 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction:
Skilled nursing facilities have one of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness among all industries. This study quantifies the burden of occupational injury and illness in this industry using data from a single state‐based workers’ compensation (WC) system.

Methods:
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation claims from 2001 to 2012 were analyzed among privately owned, state‐insured skilled nursing facilities and are presented as claim counts and rates per 100 full‐time equivalents (FTE). Worker, employer, incident, and injury characteristics were examined among all claims and by medical‐only (medical care expenses and/or less than eight days away from work) and lost‐time (eight days or more away from work) claim types.

Results:
There were 56,442 claims in this population of Ohio skilled nursing facilities from 2001 to 2012. Overexertion and bodily reaction, slips, trips, and falls, and contact with objects and equipment accounted for the majority of all WC claims (89%). Overexertion and bodily reaction, and slips, trips, and falls comprised 85% of the 10,793 lost‐time claims. The highest injury event/exposure rates for all claims were for overexertion and bodily reaction (3.7 per 100 FTE for all claims), followed by slip, trips, and falls (2.1), and contact with objects and equipment (1.9).

Conclusion:
Understanding the details surrounding injury events and exposures resulting in WC claims can help better align prevention efforts, such as incorporation of safe patient handling policies and lifting aids, improvement in housekeeping practices, and employee training within skilled nursing facilities to prevent worker injury and mitigate related expenses.

Envisioning the future of work to safeguard the safety, health, and well‐being of the workforce: A perspective from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Source: Sara L. Tamers, Jessica Streit, Rene Pana‐Cryan, Tapas Ray, Laura Syron, Michael A. Flynn, Dawn Castillo, Gary Roth, Charles Geraci, Rebecca Guerin, Paul Schulte, Scott Henn, Chia‐Chia Chang, Sarah Felknor, John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 12, December 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The future of work embodies changes to the workplace, work, and workforce, which require additional occupational safety and health (OSH) stakeholder attention. Examples include workplace developments in organizational design, technological job displacement, and work arrangements; work advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and technologies; and workforce changes in demographics, economic security, and skills. This paper presents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Future of Work Initiative; suggests an integrated approach to address worker safety, health, and well‐being; introduces priority topics and subtopics that confer a framework for upcoming future of work research directions and resultant practical applications; and discusses preliminary next steps. All future of work issues impact one another. Future of work transformations are contingent upon each of the standalone factors discussed in this paper and their combined effects. Occupational safety and health stakeholders are becoming more aware of the significance and necessity of these factors for the workplace, work, and workforce to flourish, merely survive, or disappear altogether as the future evolves. The future of work offers numerous opportunities, while also presenting critical but not clearly understood difficulties, exposures, and hazards. It is the responsibility of OSH researchers and other partners to understand the implications of future of work scenarios to translate effective interventions into practice for employers safeguarding the safety, health, and well‐being of their workers.

Takeaways from the Rockefeller Institute’s Webinar on Public Sector Management Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Joseph Popcun, Rockefeller Institute of Government blog, September 24, 2020

On September 10, 2020, the Rockefeller Institute of Government hosted a webinar with senior leaders from state and local government who reflected on the management challenges and opportunities that arose during the response to—and ongoing recovery from—the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The goal of the conversation was to understand how the public sector rapidly adopted new policies and adapted operations to meet new demands, particularly in support of a workforce that was able to work remotely to deliver essential services to constituents virtually. Based on their experiences over the past six months, panelists informed the audience of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers about dramatic changes to the public sector landscape—changes that may be features of the “new normal” for months and years to come.

This post explores some of the key themes that the panelists shared about how government was, and can continue to be, reimagined to ensure accessibility and continuity of services, as well as to attract and retain a workforce that makes government work for the people. The panelists discussed the “nuts and bolts” of how specific agencies devised new management approaches, leveraged remote work options, deployed public health and safety precautions for essential in-person work, and identified ways to improve resiliency and ensure continuity of their operations. These lessons are an invaluable resource to state and local governments throughout the United States as they continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19 and face a potential resurgence of viral transmission within their communities.

The COVID crisis in community colleges — what does the data say?

Source: Kent Phillippe, Community College Daily, September 7, 2020

The novel coronavirus has affected all aspects of society and the economy. But what do the data say about the impact of the pandemic on community colleges?

Getting timely and reliable data on two-year colleges is challenging. Many of the key metrics are not systematically collected nor reported nationally. This article will look at some of the available data to get a sense of the effects of COVID-19 on this sector of higher education.

Collective Action Is How We Shake Ourselves Free of Pandemic Isolation

Source: Barbara Madeloni, Labor Notes, September 30, 2020

The pandemic has made me see more clearly why it works when workers get together to solve problems collectively.

With no public health system to access and a disorganized, inept, and neglectful response from the government, individuals have been cast out alone to deal with the pandemic. Decisions about working—and risking one’s health and safety—have become individual.

School districts have surveyed parents and educators, asking what individuals wanted for themselves. Unions that simply let members fill out their surveys alone reinforced the message: you are on your own, do what is best for you.

Which is why the contrast when workers come together to talk is so pronounced and powerful right now.

Should public safety shift workers be allowed to nap while on duty?

Source: P. Daniel Patterson, Matthew D. Weaver, Francis X. Guyette, Christian Martin‐Gill, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 10, October 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Fatigue and sleep deficiency among public safety personnel are threats to wellness, public and personal safety, and workforce retention. Napping strategies may reduce work‐related fatigue, improve safety and health, yet in some public safety organizations it is discouraged or prohibited. Our aim with this commentary is to define intra‐shift napping, summarize arguments for and against it, and to outline potential applications of this important fatigue mitigation strategy supported by evidence. We focus our discussion on emergency medical services (EMS); a key component of the public safety system, which is comprised of police, fire, and EMS. The personnel who work in EMS stand to benefit from intra‐shift napping due to frequent use of extended duration shifts, a high prevalence of personnel working multiple jobs, and evidence showing that greater than half of EMS personnel report severe fatigue, poor sleep quality, inadequate inter‐shift recovery, and excessive daytime sleepiness. The benefits of intra‐shift napping include decreased sleepiness and fatigue, improved recovery between shifts, decreased anxiety, and reduced feelings of burnout. Intra‐shift napping also mitigates alterations in clinician blood pressure associated with disturbed sleep and shift work. The negative consequences of napping include negative public perception, acute performance deficits stemming from sleep inertia, and the potential costs associated with reduced performance. While there are valid arguments against intra‐shift napping, we believe that the available scientific evidence favors it as a key component of fatigue mitigation and workplace wellness. We further believe that these arguments extend beyond EMS to all sectors of public safety.

Uninvestigated fatal workplace injuries in the United States

Source: Bethany Boggess, Lisa Pompeii, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, Version of Record online: September 7, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Approximately 5000 people are killed by an injury at work every year, but the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) only investigates 25%–35% of these deaths. The aim of this study was to identify industry, geographic, and worker demographic disparities in the proportion of fatal workplace injuries that are investigated by OSHA.

Methods:
This cross‐sectional analysis drew from 2 years of public data (2014–2015) from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and investigation data from OSHA. Differences by worker age and sex, geographic region, industry, and State Plan‐ versus Federal Plan‐state were examined.

Results:
Nationally, OSHA investigated about one in four (27.5%) of the 9657 fatal workplace injuries that occurred. Higher odds of uninvestigated fatalities were observed for female workers compared to male workers (odds ratio, 2.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.89, 2.93), for workers over age 65 compared to those aged 18–24 (3.05; 2.44, 3.82), for worker deaths occurring in State Plan states compared to Federal Plan states (1.64; 1.49, 1.79), among other differences.

Conclusions:
Although some of the disparities could be explained by OSHA jurisdiction restrictions, other areas of potential reform were identified, such as investigating a greater number of workplace violence deaths and increasing focus in industries with a low proportion of investigations but a high number of fatalities, such as transportation and warehousing. Consideration should be given to adapt policies, expand OSHA jurisdiction, and to increase OSHA resources for conducting both fatality investigations and proactive investigations that can identify and abate hazards before a worker is injured.

Envisioning the future of work to safeguard the safety, health, and well‐being of the workforce: A perspective from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Source: Sara L. Tamers, Jessica Streit, Rene Pana‐Cryan, Tapas Ray, Laura Syron, Michael A. Flynn, Dawn Castillo, Gary Roth, Charles Geraci, Rebecca Guerin, Paul Schulte, Scott Henn, Chia‐Chia Chang, Sarah Felknor, John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, Version of Record online: September 14, 2020

From the abstract:
The future of work embodies changes to the workplace, work, and workforce, which require additional occupational safety and health (OSH) stakeholder attention. Examples include workplace developments in organizational design, technological job displacement, and work arrangements; work advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and technologies; and workforce changes in demographics, economic security, and skills. This paper presents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Future of Work Initiative; suggests an integrated approach to address worker safety, health, and well‐being; introduces priority topics and subtopics that confer a framework for upcoming future of work research directions and resultant practical applications; and discusses preliminary next steps. All future of work issues impact one another. Future of work transformations are contingent upon each of the standalone factors discussed in this paper and their combined effects. Occupational safety and health stakeholders are becoming more aware of the significance and necessity of these factors for the workplace, work, and workforce to flourish, merely survive, or disappear altogether as the future evolves. The future of work offers numerous opportunities, while also presenting critical but not clearly understood difficulties, exposures, and hazards. It is the responsibility of OSH researchers and other partners to understand the implications of future of work scenarios to translate effective interventions into practice for employers safeguarding the safety, health, and well‐being of their workers.