Category Archives: Health & Safety

A Plan is Emerging to Fight “Rape on the Night Shift”

Source: Christina Jewett, Frontline and Reveal, March 9, 2016

Female janitors working alone at night have been particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and reluctant to report it. Now, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said at a rally outside the Capitol today, it’s time for change. Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat, announced at the rally that her office is working on a bill that would increase protections for female janitors. Gonzalez said she was moved to tears by the documentary “Rape on the Night Shift,” a collaboration between Reveal, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, KQED, FRONTLINE and Univision. It inspired her to improve conditions for women who are subject to abuse while cleaning buildings alone at night….. The investigation found rampant sexual violence against female janitors who work alone at night in empty offices and businesses. Janitors across the country said one simple solution would be having them work together in teams….

The Safe Haven That’s Not So Safe

Source: Lauren Godles, OnLabor blog, March 8, 2016

….So what is being done to keep our healthcare workers safe from these increasingly commonplace attacks? Two common responses have been to hire armed guards and to pass laws criminalizing assaults on healthcare workers. Unfortunately these are quick fixes that both suffer from acute flaws. This post will examine each one in turn. ….

Performance of Facepiece Respirators and Surgical Masks Against Surgical Smoke: Simulated Workplace Protection Factor Study

Source: Shuang Gao, Richard H. Koehler, Michael Yermakov and Sergey A. Grinshpun, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: February 28, 2016

From the abstract:
Objective: Surgical smoke generated during electrocautery contains toxins which may cause adverse health effects to operating room (OR) personnel. The objective of this study was to investigate the performance of surgical masks (SMs), which are routinely used in ORs, more efficient N95 surgical mask respirator (SMRs) and N100 filtering facepiece respirator (FFRs), against surgical smoke.

Methods: Ten subjects were recruited to perform surgical dissections on animal tissue in a simulated OR chamber, using a standard electrocautery device, generating surgical smoke. Six respiratory protective devices (RPDs) were tested: two SMs, two SMRs, and two N100 FFRs [including a newly developed faceseal (FS) prototype]. Fit testing was conducted before the experiment. Each subject was then exposed to the surgical smoke while wearing an RPD under the tests. Concentrations inside (Cin) and outside (Cout) of the RPD were measured by a particle size spectrometer. The simulated workplace protection factor (SWPF) was determined by the ratio of Cout and Cin for each RPD-wearing subject.

Results: For the SMs, the geometric means of SWPFtotal (based on the total aerosol concentration) were 1.49 and 1.76, indicating minimal protection. The SWPFtotal values of the SMRs and N100 FFRs were significantly higher than those of the SMs: for the two SMRs, the SWPFtotal were 208 and 263; for the two N100s, the SWPFtotal values were 1,089 and 2,199. No significant difference was observed between either the two SMs or the two SMRs. The SWPFtotal for the novel FS prototype N100 FFR was significantly higher than the conventional N100 FFR. The correlation between SWPFtotal and fit factor (FF) determined for two N95 SMRs was not significant.

Conclusions: SMs do not provide measurable protection against surgical smoke. SMRs offer considerably improved protection versus SMs, while the N100 FFRs showed significant improvement over the SMRs. The FS prototype offered a higher level of protection than the standard N100 FFR, due to a tighter seal. While we acknowledge that conventional N100 FFRs (equipped with exhalation valves) are not practical for human OR use, the results obtained with the FS prototype demonstrate the potential of the new FS technology for implementation on various types of respirators.

The Benefits and Challenges of the Influenza Vaccination Among Home Health Care Workers

Source: Robert J. Rosati, Michael Zales, Steven Landers, Home Health Care Management Practice, Published online before print February 22, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Home health care agencies provide services to some of the most vulnerable patients and must encourage influenza vaccinations of their employees. The current study assessed the impact of increasing employee compliance with vaccinations and aimed to determine why certain employees refuse vaccinations. This was an observational study that looked at employee vaccination rates, employee sick days, and responses to an employee survey of those who refused vaccinations. Data were collected at a large not-for-profit home health care agency in the northeast that provides services primarily to Medicare patients. Vaccination compliance and sick days information were collected on all employees of the home care agency over three flu seasons (2012-2015). Survey data were collected on employees (n = 240) who refused the influenza vaccination during the 2014-2015 flu season. The agency more than doubled vaccination rates from 38% to 88% and found a corresponding reduction in staff sick time. By surveying the “refusers,” it was found that the common reasons for avoiding vaccinations were beliefs of not being in a high-risk group, not needing vaccine, being healthy and never getting the flu, and not liking injections. It is clear that a concerted effort to increase employee influenza vaccination rates can be successful and possibly decrease staff sick days. However, there seems to be a small group of employees who refuse vaccination. Better education of these employees should help eliminate the common reasons people decline vaccination.

State Reports on Health Detriments and Workplace Safety Conditions

Source: Underwriters Laboratories, 2016

There is growing recognition among businesses about the impact that workplace health and safety management can have on organizational productivity, worker well-being, morale, risk management and operational costs. Given this trend, it is not surprising that companies are increasingly seeking new ways to understand the risk in the communities they operate. Unfortunately, most of the data available is hard to find and harder to decipher. That is until now. To aid businesses with unraveling this maze, IHSI compiled data on community health and worker safety issues by state in the attached scorecards. The insight gleamed from this information will help them identify and understand potential issues that, if managed through an integrated health and safety framework, could prevent and/or reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace. …. This report amasses data from several existing sources including United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings; the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and National Compensation Survey; the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s Blueprint for Health. All data used in this report is from calendar year 2012, unless otherwise specified…

Zika Virus

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016

Sections include:
Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
Most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyess…

No vaccine exists…Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bitess…

Transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquitos…

Zika Virus: Questions and Answers
Answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding Zika virus…

Areas with Zika
Countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission…

For Health Care Providers
Clinical evaluation, disease, diagnostic testing, obstetricians, pediatricianss…

For Pregnant Women
Questions & answers, travel information, microcephaly, avoiding mosquitoss…

Vector Surveillance and Control
Resources for surveillance and control of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus…

Unreported workers’ compensation claims to the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses: Establishment factors

Source: Sara E. Wuellner, Darrin A. Adams and David K. Bonauto, American Journal of Industrial MedicineEarly View, Article first published online: January 21, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Studies suggest employers underreport injuries to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII); less is known about reporting differences by establishment characteristics.

Methods: We linked SOII data to Washington State workers’ compensation claims data, using unemployment insurance data to improve linking accuracy. We used multivariable regression models to estimate incidence ratios (IR) of unreported workers’ compensation claims for establishment characteristics.

Results: An estimated 70% of workers’ compensation claims were reported in SOII. Claims among state and local government establishments were most likely to be reported. Compared to large manufacturing establishments, unreported claims were most common among small educational services establishments and large construction establishments.

Conclusions: Underreporting of workers’ compensation claims to SOII varies by establishment characteristics, obscuring true differences in work injury incidence. Findings may differ from previous research due to differences in study methods.

Characteristics of workplace violence prevention training and violent events among home health and hospice care providers

Source: Catherine J. Vladutiu, Carri Casteel, Maryalice Nocera, Robert Harrison and Corinne Peek-Asa,American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 59 Issue 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: In the rapidly growing home health and hospice industry, little is known about workplace violence prevention (WVP) training and violent events.

Methods: We examined the characteristics of WVP training and estimated violent event rates among 191 home health and hospice care providers from six agencies in California. Training characteristics were identified from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. Rates were estimated as the number of violent events divided by the total number of home visit hours.

Results: Between 2008 and 2009, 66.5% (n = 127) of providers reported receiving WVP training when newly hired or as recurrent training. On average, providers rated the quality of their training as 5.7 (1 = poor to 10 = excellent). Among all providers, there was an overall rate of 17.1 violent events per 1,000 visit-hours.

Conclusion: Efforts to increase the number of home health care workers who receive WVP training and to improve training quality are needed.

Identifying knowledge activism in worker health and safety representation: A cluster analysis

Source: Alan Hall, John Oudyk, Andrew King, Syed Naqvi and Wayne Lewchuk, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 59 Issue 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Although worker representation in OHS has been widely recognized as contributing to health and safety improvements at work, few studies have examined the role that worker representatives play in this process. Using a large quantitative sample, this paper seeks to confirm findings from an earlier exploratory qualitative study that worker representatives can be differentiated by the knowledge intensive tactics and strategies that they use to achieve changes in their workplace.ce.

Methods: Just under 900 worker health and safety representatives in Ontario completed surveys which asked them to report on the amount of time they devoted to different types of representation activities (i.e., technical activities such as inspections and report writing vs. political activities such as mobilizing workers to build support), the kinds of conditions or hazards they tried to address through their representation (e.g., housekeeping vs. modifications in ventilation systems), and their reported success in making positive improvements. A cluster analysis was used to determine whether the worker representatives could be distinguished in terms of the relative time devoted to different activities and the clusters were then compared with reference to types of intervention efforts and outcomes.

Results: The cluster analysis identified three distinct groupings of representatives with significant differences in reported types of interventions and in their level of reported impact. Two of the clusters were consistent with the findings in the exploratory study, identified as knowledge activism for greater emphasis on knowledge based political activity and technical-legal representation for greater emphasis on formalized technical oriented procedures and legal regulations. Knowledge activists were more likely to take on challenging interventions and they reported more impact across the full range of interventions.

Conclusions: This paper provides further support for the concepts of knowledge activism and technical-legal representation when differentiating the strategic orientations and impact of worker health and safety representatives, with important implications for education, political support and recruitment…

Impact of Work-Life Imbalance on Health of Women

Source: Sarang Shankar Bhola – Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Institute of Management Studies & Research, and Jyoti Nigade – Shivaji University – Department of Commerce & Management, January 4, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Work-life balance is effective management of juggling act between paid work and other activities that are important to people. In case of working woman it is a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both, her job and personal life is equal. But when they can’t maintain this equilibrium what should be the consequences? Present research paper focus on health related consequences, since it is intended to find out whether work-life imbalance affects health of working women, and if yes then to what extent they suffer from. 691 working women were taken as samples which consists 379 from service industry, 176 professionals and 136 entrepreneurs. Schedule consist of 17 variables depicting physical health, 13 variables deals with psychological health and 7 variables deals with reproductive health problems. Samples were asked to opine on suffering with respective health problem measured on dichotomous scale and the extent of suffering from such health problem using five point likert type scales. The null hypothesis i.e. Women working as employee/professional/entrepreneur suffer from medical problems is accepted since majority of medical problems considered in this study are not suffered by majority of samples included in this study. Binomial test is used to test hypothesis. Researcher found that work-life imbalance takes a toll on the health of working women since they are suffered from different physical (exhaustion, frequent headache, server back pain, acidity, eye sight disorders and hair loss), psychological problems (emotional strain, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and becoming sluggish) and reproductive health problems (irregular periods and miscarriage) due to their work.