Category Archives: Health & Safety

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect – 2015

Source: AFL-CIO Safety and Health Department, 2015

From the summary:
This 2015 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect marks the 24th year the AFL-CIO has produced a report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s workers. More than 510,000 workers now can say their lives have been saved since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which promised workers in this country the right to a safe job. Since that time, workplace safety and health conditions have improved, but too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death. Many preventable workplace disasters do not make the headlines, and kill and disable thousands of workers each year.
Related:
Digital Toolkit

Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA 3148-04R, 2015

Healthcare and social service workers face significant risks of job-related violence and it is OSHA’s mission to help employers address these serious hazards. This publication updates OSHA’s 1996 and 2004 voluntary guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social service workers. OSHA’s violence prevention guidelines are based on industry best practices and feedback from stakeholders, and provide recommendations for developing policies and procedures to eliminate or reduce workplace violence in a range of healthcare and social service settings.

These guidelines reflect the variations that exist in different settings and incorporate the latest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace. Workplace setting determines not only the types of hazards that exist, but also the measures that will be available and appropriate to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards.

For the purpose of these guidelines, we have identified five different settings:
■ Hospital settings represent large institutional medical facilities;
■ Residential Treatment settings include institutional facilities such as nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities;
■ Non-residential Treatment/Service settings include small neighborhood clinics and mental health centers;
■ Community Care settings include community-based residential facilities and group homes; and
■ Field work settings include home healthcare workers or social workers who make home visits.

Indeed, these guidelines are intended to cover a broad spectrum of workers, including those in: psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency departments, community mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment centers, pharmacies, community-care centers, and long-term care facilities. Healthcare and social service workers covered by these guidelines include: registered nurses, nurses’ aides, therapists, technicians, home healthcare workers, social workers, emergency medical care personnel, physicians, pharmacists, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, and other support staff who come in contact with clients with known histories of violence. Employers should use these guidelines to develop appropriate workplace violence prevention programs, engaging workers to ensure their perspective is recognized and their needs are incorporated into the program….

Characterization of Textiles Used in Chefs’ Uniforms for Protection Against Thermal Hazards Encountered in the Kitchen Environment

Source: Han Zhang, Rachel H. McQueen, Jane C. Batcheller, Briana L. Ehnes and Stephen A. Paskaluk, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: April 29, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Within the kitchen the potential for burn injuries arising from contact with hot surfaces, flames, hot liquid, and steam hazards is high. The chef’s uniform can potentially offer some protection against such burns by providing a protective barrier between the skin and the thermal hazard, although the extent to which can provide some protection is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine whether fabrics used in chefs’ uniforms were able to provide some protection against thermal hazards encountered in the kitchen. Fabrics from chefs’ jackets and aprons were selected. Flammability of single- and multiple-layered fabrics was measured. Effect of jacket type, apron and number of layers on hot surface, hot water, and steam exposure was also measured. Findings showed that all of the jacket and apron fabrics rapidly ignited when exposed to a flame. Thermal protection against hot surfaces increased as layers increased due to more insulation. Protection against steam and hot water improved with an impermeable apron in the system. For wet thermal hazards increasing the number of permeable layers can decrease the level of protection due to stored thermal energy. As the hands and arms are most at risk of burn injury increased insulation and water-impermeable barrier in the sleeves would improve thermal protection with minimal compromise to overall thermal comfort.

Fatal injuries in U.S. workplaces fall over the last two decades

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Economics Daily, April 28, 2015

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed each year on April 28, honors workers killed, injured, or made ill at work. In 2013, 4,585 workers in the United States died from an injury suffered at work. This is the second-lowest figure since BLS began publishing national data in 1992. Although fatal workplace injuries have fallen 23 percent since 2000, a worker died every 2 hours in the United States from a workplace injury in 2013….

Reflections on the State of Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health & Safety in the United States and Canada

Source: Terence G. Ison, Compensation Benefits Review, vol. 47 no. 1, January/February 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
When an article similar to this one was published in Canada, it reflected primarily knowledge derived from firsthand experience in several provinces and territories, and empirical research in Ontario and British Columbia. Since that article was published in 2013, this new article reflects my research on recent publications in the United States on Workers’ Compensation. The article begins by explaining the damaging and overwhelming significance of experience rating. To enhance an understanding of current situations, the article then explains the legal history of Occupational Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation. Then the role of physicians is discussed, particularly the difficulties they often have in distinguishing questions of law from questions of medicine. The article then deals with how decisions are made in the claims department of a Workers’ Compensation Board and by appeals tribunals. The practice of actuaries is explained, including the problems that their role creates. The limited role of judicial review is then mentioned, and finally the significance of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. The article concludes with conclusions and comments.

Robot Cleans Hospital Rooms With UV Light

Source: Holly Lambert, Futurity, April 14, 2015

A robot that uses ultraviolet light can kill up to 70 percent of bacteria in hospital rooms in just 12 minutes. The device—which bears a striking resemblance to the fictional robot in Star Wars known as R2-D2—has a large saucer-shaped head on top of a column that rises up to reveal a bulb filled with xenon gas. …. The new study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, looked at the effectiveness of UV light disinfection by itself and found that in just 12 minutes the Xenon UV light system cut the amount bacteria in the room by about 70 percent—roughly the same level of effectiveness as manual disinfection. Hospitals shouldn’t use the UV light system by itself, Jinadatha says, but it has value as a “safety net” to kill bacteria that traditional cleaning may miss. Currently, the system is being used in 40 Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country and about 200 private hospitals…. Of particular note was the fact that manual disinfection plus UV light killed 99 percent of the bacteria that cause MRSA….
Related:
Disinfecting personal protective equipment with pulsed xenon ultraviolet as a risk mitigation strategy for health care workers
Source: Chetan Jinadatha, Sarah Simmons, Charles Dale, Nagaraja Ganachari-Mallappa, Frank Charles Villamaria, Nicole Goulding, Benjamin Tanner, Julie Stachowiak, Mark Stibich, American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 43, Issue 4, April 1, 2015
(subscription required)

Associations between workplace factors and carpal tunnel syndrome: A multi-site cross sectional study

Source: Z. Joyce Fan, Carisa Harris-Adamson, Fred Gerr, Ellen A. Eisen, Kurt T. Hegmann, Barbara Silverstein, Bradley Evanoff, Ann Marie Dale, Matthew S. Thiese, Arun Garg, Jay Kapellusch, Susan Burt, Linda Merlino and David Rempel, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 58 Issue 5, May 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
Few large epidemiologic studies have used rigorous case criteria, individual-level exposure measurements, and appropriate control for confounders to examine associations between workplace psychosocial and biomechanical factors and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Methods
Pooling data from five independent research studies, we assessed associations between prevalent CTS and personal, work psychosocial, and biomechanical factors while adjusting for confounders using multivariable logistic regression.

Results
Prevalent CTS was associated with personal factors of older age, obesity, female sex, medical conditions, previous distal upper extremity disorders, workplace measures of peak forceful hand activity, a composite measure of force and repetition (ACGIH Threshold Limit Value for Hand Activity Level), and hand vibration.

Conclusions
In this cross-sectional analysis of production and service workers, CTS prevalence was associated with workplace and biomechanical factors. The findings were similar to those from a prospective analysis of the same cohort with differences that may be due to recall bias and other factors.

Disparities in occupational injury hospitalization rates in five states (2003–2009)

Source: Jeanne M. Sears, Stephen M. Bowman and Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 58 Issue 5, May 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
Achievement of health equity and elimination of disparities are overarching goals of Healthy People 2020, yet there is a paucity of population-based data regarding race/ethnicity-based disparities in occupational injuries.

Methods
Hospital discharge data for five states (Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York) were obtained from the Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project (HCUP) for 2003–2009. Age-adjusted rates and trends for work-related injury hospitalizations were calculated using negative binomial regression (reference category: non-Latino white).

Results
Latinos were significantly more likely to have a work-related traumatic injury hospitalization. The disparity for Latinos was greatest for machinery-related hospitalizations. Latinos were also more likely to have a fall-related hospitalization. African-Americans were more likely to have an occupational assault-related hospitalization, but less likely to have a fall-related hospitalization.

Conclusions
We found evidence of substantial multistate disparities in occupational injury-related hospitalizations. Enhanced surveillance and further research are needed to identify and address underlying causes.

Trends in worker hearing loss by industry sector, 1981–2010

Source: Elizabeth A. Masterson, James A. Deddens, Christa L. Themann, Stephen Bertke and Geoffrey M. Calvert, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 58 Issue 4, April 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
The purpose of this study was to estimate the incidence and prevalence of hearing loss for noise-exposed U.S. workers by industry sector and 5-year time period, covering 30 years.

Methods
Audiograms for 1.8 million workers from 1981–2010 were examined. Incidence and prevalence were estimated by industry sector and time period. The adjusted risk of incident hearing loss within each time period and industry sector as compared with a reference time period was also estimated.

Results
The adjusted risk for incident hearing loss decreased over time when all industry sectors were combined. However, the risk remained high for workers in Healthcare and Social Assistance, and the prevalence was consistently high for Mining and Construction workers.

Conclusions
While progress has been made in reducing the risk of incident hearing loss within most industry sectors, additional efforts are needed within Mining, Construction and Healthcare and Social Assistance.