Category Archives: Health & Safety

Workplace screening for hand dermatitis: a pilot study

Source: K. Nichol, R. Copes, S. Spielmann, K. Kersey, J. Eriksson1 and D. L. Holness, Occupational Medicine, Advance Access, First published online: September 26, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Health care workers (HCWs) are at increased risk for developing occupational skin disease (OSD) such as dermatitis primarily due to exposure to wet work. Identification of risk factors and workplace screening can help early detection of OSD to avoid the condition becoming chronic.
Aims To determine risk factors and clinical findings for hand dermatitis using a workplace screening tool.
Methods: Employees at a large teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada, were invited to complete a two-part hand dermatitis screening tool. Part 1 inquired about hand hygiene practices and Part 2 comprised a visual assessment of participants’ hands by a health professional and classification as (i) normal, (ii) mild dermatitis or (iii) moderate/severe dermatitis. Risk factors were determined using chi-square and Cochran–Armitage analysis on a dichotomous variable, where Yes represented either a mild or moderate/severe disease classification.
Results: There were 183 participants out of 643 eligible employees; response rate 28%. Mild or moderate/severe dermatitis was present in 72% of participants. These employees were more likely to work directly with patients, have worked longer in a health care setting, wash hands and change gloves more frequently, wear gloves for more hours per day, have a history of eczema or dermatitis and report a current rash on the hands or rash in the past 12 months.
Conclusions: There was a high percentage of HCWs with dermatitis and risk factors for dermatitis. These findings argue for increased attention to prevention and early identification of hand dermatitis and support further testing of the workplace screening tool.

Common solvent keeps killing workers, consumers

Source: Jamie Smith Hopkins, Center for Public Integrity, September 21, 2015

Regulators have been slow to act on paint strippers, other products containing methylene chloride. ….A Center analysis identified at least 56 accidental exposure deaths linked to methylene chloride since 1980 in the U.S. Thirty-one occurred before Johnathan Welch died, 24 after. The most recent was in July. Many involved paint strippers; in other cases victims used the chemical for tasks such as cleaning and gluing carpet, according to death investigations and autopsy reports the Center obtained through Freedom of Information Act and state open records requests. ….

Firearm Prevalence and Homicides of Law Enforcement Officers in the United States

Source: David I. Swedler, Molly M. Simmons, Francesca Dominici, and David Hemenway, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 105 No. 10, October 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives. In the United States, state firearm ownership has been correlated with homicide rates. More than 90% of homicides of law enforcement officers (LEOs) are committed with firearms. We examined the relationship between state firearm ownership rates and LEO occupational homicide rates.

Methods. We obtained the number LEOs killed from 1996 to 2010 from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database. We calculated homicide rates per state as the number of officers killed per number of LEOs per state, obtained from another FBI database. We obtained the mean household firearm ownership for each state from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Results. Using Poisson regression and controlling for factors known to affect homicide rates, we associated firearm ownership with the homicide rates for LEOs (incidence rate ratio = 1.044; P = .005); our results were supported by cross-sectional and longitudinal sensitivity analyses. LEO homicide rates were 3 times higher in states with high firearm ownership compared with states with low firearm ownership.

Conclusions. High public gun ownership is a risk for occupational mortality for LEOs in the United States. States could consider methods for reducing firearm ownership as a way to reduce occupational deaths of LEOs.

Severe Weather Risk Increases Need For Policies

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Vol. 32 no. 18, September 4, 2015
(subscription required)

….More than half (52%) of employers believe severe weather events have become more common in recent years, according to a recent survey by Travelers, the property and casualty insurer. Nearly one-third (32%) also believe it is increasingly likely that their property and equipment will be damaged as a result of extreme weather in the future. Unfortunately, a separate survey by office supplies retailer Staples suggests employees do not have much faith in their employers’ ability to respond to severe weather. A majority of employees participating in the survey believe their employers have not reassessed safety plans or prepared themselves to handle hot temperatures, snow and ice, cold, blizzards, earthquakes and hurricanes. Nearly half of employees also reported they had been expected to report for work in conditions they felt were unsafe…..

Well-Being and Safety Among Inpatient Psychiatric Staff: The Impact of Conflict, Assault, and Stress Reactivity

Source: Erin L. Kelly, Karissa Fenwick, John S. Brekke, Raymond W. Novaco, Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, First online: 16 September 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Psychiatric staff are faced with multiple forms of hostility, aggression, and assault at work, collectively referred to as workplace violence, which typically is activated by patients but can also come from coworkers and supervisors. Whether workplace violence adversely affects staff well-being may be related not only to its presence, but also to an individual’s stress reactivity. At a large public psychiatric hospital, an online survey was completed by 323 clinical care staff, of whom 69.5 % had experienced physical assault in the previous 12 months. Staff well-being (depression, anger, and physical health) and staff safety concerns were adversely affected by conflicts with other staff members and by individual reactivity to social conflict and to assault. To improve staff well-being, in addition to safety protocols, interventions should target staff relationships, personal health maintenance practices, and individual coping skills for dealing with adverse workplace experiences

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2014

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-15-1789, September 17, 2015

A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2014, an increase of 2 percent over the revised count of 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013, according to results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The preliminary rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2014 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers; the revised rate for 2013 was also 3.3. Revised 2014 data from CFOI will be released in the late spring of 2016. Over the last 5 years, net increases to the preliminary count have averaged 173 cases, ranging from a low of 84 in 2011 (up 2 percent) to a high of 245 in 2012 (up 6 percent). …

Trends of occupational fatalities involving machines, United States, 1992–2010

Source: Suzanne M. Marsh and David E. Fosbroke, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, Article first published online: September 11, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: This paper describes trends of occupational machine-related fatalities from 1992–2010. We examine temporal patterns by worker demographics, machine types (e.g., stationary, mobile), and industries.

Methods: We analyzed fatalities from Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. We used injury source to identify machine-related incidents and Poisson regression to assess trends over the 19-year period.

Results: There was an average annual decrease of 2.8% in overall machine-related fatality rates from 1992 through 2010. Mobile machine-related fatality rates decreased an average of 2.6% annually and stationary machine-related rates decreased an average of 3.5% annually. Groups that continued to be at high risk included older workers; self-employed; and workers in agriculture/forestry/fishing, construction, and mining.

Conclusion: Addressing dangers posed by tractors, excavators, and other mobile machines needs to continue. High-risk worker groups should receive targeted information on machine safety

Workplace stressors & health outcomes: Health policy for the workplace

Source: Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, & Stefanos A. Zenios, Behavioral Science & Policy, Vol. 1 no. 1, Spring 2015

From the summary:
Extensive research focuses on the causes of workplace-induced stress. However, policy efforts to tackle the ever-increasing health costs and poor health outcomes in the United States have largely ignored the health effects of psychosocial workplace stressors such as high job demands, economic insecurity, and long work hours. Using meta-analysis, we summarize 228 studies assessing the effects of ten workplace stressors on four health outcomes. We find that job insecurity increases the odds of reporting poor health by about 50%, high job demands raise the odds of having a physician-diagnosed illness by 35%, and long work hours increase mortality by almost 20%. Therefore, policies designed to reduce health costs and improve health outcomes should account for the health effects of the workplace environment.

The association between weekly work hours, crew familiarity, and occupational injury and illness in emergency medical services workers

Source: Matthew D. Weaver, P. Daniel Patterson, Anthony Fabio, Charity G. Moore, Matthew S. Freiberg and Thomas J. Songer, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, Article first published online August 25, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers are shift workers in a high-risk, uncontrolled occupational environment. EMS-worker fatigue has been associated with self-reported injury, but the influence of extended weekly work hours is unknown.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was designed using historical shift schedules and occupational injury and illness reports. Using multilevel models, we examined the association between weekly work hours, crew familiarity, and injury or illness.

Results: In total, 966,082 shifts and 950 reports across 14 EMS agencies were obtained over a 1–3 year period. Weekly work hours were not associated with occupational injury or illness. Schedule characteristics that yield decreased exposure to occupational hazards, such as part-time work and night work, conferred reduced risk of injury or illness.

Conclusions: Extended weekly work hours were not associated with occupational injury or illness. Future work should focus on transient exposures and agency-level characteristics that may contribute to adverse work events