Category Archives: Health & Safety

Role of psychosocial work factors in the relation between becoming a caregiver and changes in health behaviour: results from the Whitehall II cohort study

Source: Nadya Dich, Jenny Head, Naja Hulvej Rod, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, Online First, 23 May 2016

From the abstract:
Background: The present study tested the effects of becoming a caregiver combined with adverse working conditions on changes in health behaviours.

Methods: Participants were 5419 British civil servants from the Whitehall II cohort study who were not caregivers at baseline (phase 3, 1991–1994). Psychosocial work factors were assessed at baseline. Phase 4 questionnaire (1995–1996) was used to identify participants who became caregivers to an aged or disabled relative. Smoking, alcohol consumption and exercise were assessed at baseline and follow-up (phase 5, 1997–1999).

Results: Those who became caregivers were more likely to increase frequency of alcohol consumption, but only if they also reported low decision latitude at work (OR= 1.65, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.37 compared with non-caregivers with average decision latitude), or belonged to low occupational social class (OR=2.38, 95% CI 1.17 to 4.78 compared with non-caregivers of high occupational social class). Caregivers were more likely to quit smoking if job demands were low (OR=2.92; 95% CI 1.07 to 7.92 compared with non-caregivers with low job demands), or if social support at work was high (OR=2.99, 95% CI 1.01 to 8.86 compared with caregivers with average social support). There was no effect of caregiving on reducing exercise below recommended number of hours per week, or on drinking above recommended number of units per week, regardless of working conditions.

Conclusions: The findings underscore the importance of a well-balanced work environment as a resource for people exposed to increased family demands.

Zika virus disease – fact sheet

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), CUPE National Health and Safety Branch, 2016

From the introduction:
Recently, a new disease known as Zika virus disease (Zika) has gained world-wide attention. First diagnosed in the 1950’s in Central Africa, it has recently made headlines with significant outbreaks in South American, Central America, and Caribbean Nations. Having been completely unseen in the western hemisphere, there has been little to no exposure to the virus by the general population, leading to low immunity and a high rate of infection. ….

Interactive training improves workplace climate, knowledge, and support towards domestic violence

Source: Nancy Glass, Ginger C. Hanson, Naima Laharnar, W. Kent Anger and Nancy Perrin, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, May 16, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: As Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects the workplace, a supportive workplace climate is important. The study evaluated the effectiveness of an “IPV and the Workplace” training on workplace climate towards IPV.
Methods: IPV training was provided to 14 intervention counties and 13 control counties (receiving training 6 months delayed). Measures included workplace climate surveys, IPV knowledge test, and workplace observations.
Results: (i) Training significantly improved supervisor knowledge on IPV and received positive evaluations, (ii) training improved workplace climate towards IPV significantly which was maintained over time, and (iii) after the training, supervisors provided more IPV information to employees and more IPV postings were available in the workplace.
Conclusions: The study provides evidence to support on-site interactive, computer based training as a means for improved workplace safety. IPV and the Workplace training effectively increased knowledge and positively changed workplace climate.

24-hour work shifts, sedentary work, and obesity in male firefighters

Source: BongKyoo Choi, Marnie Dobson, Peter Schnall, and Javier Garcia-Rivas, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 59 Issue 6, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Little is known about the occupational risk factors for obesity in US firefighters.
Methods: 308 male California firefighters, who participated in a work and obesity project, were chosen. Working conditions were measured with a firefighter-specific occupational health questionnaire. Adiposity was clinically assessed using body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and body fat percent.
Results: In a multivariate analysis, the prevalence of obesity by all measures was significantly higher in the firefighters who reported seventeen to twenty-one shifts than those who reported eight to eleven shifts in the past month. Prolonged sedentary work was also a risk factor for obesity by BMI. Furthermore, there was a linear dose-response relationship of obesity by BMI and WC with the number of 24-hr shifts and sedentary work.
Conclusions: Many additional 24-hr shifts and prolonged sedentary work substantially increased the risk for obesity in male firefighters.

Latino immigrant day laborer perceptions of occupational safety and health information preferences

Source: Claudia M. Díaz Fuentes, Leonardo Martinez Pantoja, Meshawn Tarver, Sandy A. Geschwind and Marielena Lara, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 59 Issue 6, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: We address immigrant day laborers’ experiences with occupational safety in the construction industry in New Orleans, and opinions about content and method of communication for educational interventions to reduce occupational risks.
Methods: In 2011, we conducted seven focus groups with 48 Spanish-speaking day laborers (8 women, 40 men, 35 years on average). Focus group results are based on thematic analysis.
Results: Most employers did not provide safety equipment, threatened to dismiss workers who asked for it, and did not provide health insurance. Attitudes toward accepting unsafe work conditions varied. Women faced lower pay and hiring difficulties than men. Day laborers preferred audio format over written, and content about consequences from and equipment for different jobs/exposures.
Conclusions: Day laborers have common occupational experiences, but differences existed by gender, literacy and sense of control over safety. Day laborer information preferences and use of media needs further studying.

The Decline of American Unions Is a Threat to Public Health

Source: Michael J. Wright, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 6, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Empowerment is critical for public health. The empowerment of women translates to health for all members of society. Community empowerment enables access to affordable health care, decent housing, and public safety. Unions are the organizations through which workers collectively become empowered. But today unions are under attack and in decline. Two articles in this issue of AJPH demonstrate why this is a threat to public health.

Hagedorn et al. examined 16 binding union contracts with employers in the Pacific Northwest, showing how the contracts improved the lives and promoted the health of union members. They found that the contracts raised earnings, provided retirement benefits, included employer-paid health insurance, promoted occupational safety and health, and protected workers from discrimination and unfair treatment. All are important determinants of health.

The article by Tsao et al. indirectly shows why union efforts to increase earnings are especially important. The authors modeled an increase in New York City’s minimum wage to $15, and found that it could have prevented 2800 to 5500 premature deaths between 2008 and 2012. Of course, wage increases for members are usually at the top of union collective bargaining agendas, especially for newly organized low-wage workers. Unions also are at the forefront of efforts to increase the minimum wage for all workers.
Related:
The Role of Labor Unions in Creating Working Conditions That Promote Public Health
Jenn Hagedorn, Claudia Alexandra Paras, Howard Greenwich, Amy Hagopian, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 6, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We sought to portray how collective bargaining contracts promote public health, beyond their known effect on individual, family, and community well-being. In November 2014, we created an abstraction tool to identify health-related elements in 16 union contracts from industries in the Pacific Northwest. After enumerating the contract-protected benefits and working conditions, we interviewed union organizers and members to learn how these promoted health. Labor union contracts create higher wage and benefit standards, working hours limits, workplace hazards protections, and other factors. Unions also promote well-being by encouraging democratic participation and a sense of community among workers. Labor union contracts are largely underutilized, but a potentially fertile ground for public health innovation. Public health practitioners and labor unions would benefit by partnering to create sophisticated contracts to address social determinants of health.

Estimating Potential Reductions in Premature Mortality in New York City From Raising the Minimum Wage to $15
Tsu-Yu Tsao, Kevin J. Konty, Gretchen Van Wye, Oxiris Barbot, James L. Hadler, Natalia Linos, Mary T. Bassett, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 6, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives. To assess potential reductions in premature mortality that could have been achieved in 2008 to 2012 if the minimum wage had been $15 per hour in New York City.

Methods. Using the 2008 to 2012 American Community Survey, we performed simulations to assess how the proportion of low-income residents in each neighborhood might change with a hypothetical $15 minimum wage under alternative assumptions of labor market dynamics. We developed an ecological model of premature death to determine the differences between the levels of premature mortality as predicted by the actual proportions of low-income residents in 2008 to 2012 and the levels predicted by the proportions of low-income residents under a hypothetical $15 minimum wage.

Results. A $15 minimum wage could have averted 2800 to 5500 premature deaths between 2008 and 2012 in New York City, representing 4% to 8% of total premature deaths in that period. Most of these avertable deaths would be realized in lower-income communities, in which residents are predominantly people of color.

Conclusions. A higher minimum wage may have substantial positive effects on health and should be considered as an instrument to address health disparities.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2015

Source: Lauren Musu-Gillette, Barbara A. Oudekerk, Anlan Zhang, National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics, American Institutes for Research, NCJ 249758, NCES 2016-079, May 2016

This report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying and cyber-bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. Indicators of crime and safety are compared across different population subgroups and over time. Data on crimes that occur away from school are offered as a point of comparison where available.

Presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals. This annual report, a joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides the most current statistical information on the nature of crime in schools. This report contains 23 indicators of crime and safety at school from a number of sources, including the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the School Crime Supplement to the NCVS, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, and the School and Staffing Survey. Topics covered include victimization at school, teacher injury, bullying and cyber-bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and crime at postsecondary institutions.

Highlights:
– In 2014, among students ages 12–18, there were about 850,100 nonfatal victimizations at school, which included 363,700 theft victimizations and 486,400 violent victimizations (simple assault and serious violent victimizations).
– In 2014, students ages 12–18 experienced 33 nonfatal victimizations per 1,000 students at school and 24 per 1,000 students away from school.
– Between 1992 and 2014, the total victimization rate at school declined 82 percent, from 181 victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992 to 33 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2014. The total victimization rate away from school declined 86 percent, from 173 victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992 to 24 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2014.
– In 2014, students residing in rural areas had higher rates of total victimization at school (53 victimizations per 1,000 students) than students residing in suburban areas (28 victimizations per 1,000 students).
Related:
Summary

No relief: Denial of bathroom breaks in the poultry industry

Source: Oxfam America, May 2016

From the summary:
Chicken is the most popular meat in America, and the poultry industry is booming. But workers on the processing line do not share in the bounty. Poultry workers 1) earn low wages of diminishing value, 2) suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, and 3) often experience a climate of fear in the workplace.
Despite this, though, workers themselves say that the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women.

The top four chicken companies control roughly 60 percent of the domestic market (Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms), and they can and should implement changes that will improve conditions for poultry workers across the country.

This report is part of Oxfam’s continuing campaign to advocate for improved conditions for US poultry workers. The campaign launched in October 2015, with publication of our comprehensive report, Lives on the Line: The Human cost of Cheap Chicken.

The immersive website, Lives on the Line, uses multimedia to convey the experiences of workers inside the poultry plant

Waste Workers’ Exposure to Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Species in the Truck Cab and During Waste Collection

Source: Anne Mette Madsen, Taif Alwan, Anders Ørberg, Katrine Uhrbrand and Marie Birk Jørgensen, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: April 20, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A large number of people work with garbage collection, and exposure to microorganisms is considered an occupational health problem. However, knowledge on microbial exposure at species level is limited. The aim of the study was to achieve knowledge on waste collectors’ exposure to airborne inhalable fungal and bacterial species during waste collection with focus on the transport of airborne microorganisms into the truck cab. Airborne microorganisms were collected with samplers mounted in the truck cab, on the workers’ clothes, and outdoors. Fungal and bacterial species were quantified and identified. The study showed that the workers were exposed to between 112 and 4.8×104 bacteria m−3 air and 326 and 4.6×104 fungi m−3 air. The personal exposures to bacteria and fungi were significantly higher than the concentrations measured in the truck cabs and in the outdoor references. On average, the fungal and bacterial concentrations in truck cabs were 111 and 7.7 times higher than outdoor reference measurements. In total, 23 fungal and 38 bacterial species were found and identified. Most fungal species belonged to the genus Penicillium and in total 11 Penicillium species were found. Identical fungal species were often found both in a personal sample and in the same person’s truck cab, but concentrations were on average 27 times higher in personal samples. Concentrations of fungal and bacterial species found only in the personal samples were lower than concentrations of species also found in truck cabs. Skin-related bacteria constituted a large fraction of bacterial isolates found in personal and truck cab samples. In total, six Staphylococcus species were found. In outdoor samples, no skin-related bacteria were found. On average, concentrations of bacterial species found both in the truck cab and personal samples were 77 times higher in personal samples than in truck cab samples. In conclusion, high concentrations of fungi were found in truck cabs, but the highest concentrations were found in personal samples; fungal and bacterial species found in high concentrations in personal samples were also found in truck cabs, but in lower concentrations indicating that both fungi and bacteria are transported by the workers into the truck cab, and are subsequently aerosolized in the truck cab.