Category Archives: Health & Safety

When the wheels on the bus stop going round and round: occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in public transportation

Source: Gina F. Dowdell, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, February 2015

From the abstract:
Injuries and illnesses to bus drivers endanger not only their lives but also the lives of their passengers. In 2013, approximately 5,780 transit and intercity bus drivers experienced a days-away-from-work injury or illness while on the job. This article explores occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities to bus drivers and urban transit workers and examines how individual transit systems are collecting and analyzing their own employee safety data. The findings reveal that mass transit systems have taken steps to protect their employees from harm on the job and that injuries and illnesses to bus drivers and urban transit workers have declined in recent years.
Injuries and illness among state and local government bus drivers
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, TED: The Economics Daily, February 26, 2015

According to the American Public Transportation Association, people in the United States took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2013. Just over half those trips were on motor buses. An estimated 5,780 state and local government transit and intercity bus drivers suffered injuries on the job in 2013. These injuries required at least one day away from work. Bus drivers spend almost all of their worktime on the road. Transportation incidents were the most common event that lead to a workplace injury or illness among state and local bus drivers in 2011 and 2013. These incidents accounted for 42 percent of injuries and illnesses in 2013 and 36 percent in 2011. In 2012, transportation incidents accounted for 26 percent of cases that caused bus drivers to miss work, the second most common event that year….

Even ‘Proper’ Technique Exposes Nurses’ Spines To Dangerous Forces

Source: Daniel Zwerdling, NPR, All Things Considered, February 11, 2015

This is the second in a series of stories about the dangers of nursing that will air on All Things Considered and appear online during the month of February.

Read Part 1: Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

Future stories will explore:
* Why most hospitals still are not taking aggressive steps to protect their nursing staff, even though the technology to do it is already on the market.
* How the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented a nationwide $200 million program to prevent nursing employees from getting injured when they move and lift patients.

…..According to the online course Nursing Fundamentals, “Body mechanics is the utilization of correct muscles to complete a task safely and efficiently. Keep your back straight. Bend at the knees and hips.”
But William Marras, director of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University, says “this is why nursing staffs are getting hurt lifting patients.”

“The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best ‘body mechanics’ in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem,” he says.

Marras and his colleagues have used sophisticated electronic gadgetry to peer inside the backs of nurses and other hospital staff as they move patients. Their conclusions have dramatic implications for the hospital industry:
“There’s no safe way to do it with body mechanics,” he says.

Hospital staff can lift and move patients safely only if they stop doing it manually — with their own human strength — and use machines and other equipment instead, Marras says. That means nursing staff might move patients by using technology such as a ceiling hoist — much like factory workers move heavy parts…..

….Prominent nursing groups, such as the American Nurses Association and the National Nurses United union, endorse the conclusion that nursing staff cannot lift patients safely without proper equipment. Yet NPR found that administrators at most hospitals still do not follow the findings…..

Malpractice by the Labor Movement: Relinquishing the Fight for Occupational Health and Safety in California

Source: Garrett Brown, New Labor Forum, Vol. 24 no. 1, January 2015
(subscription required)

An underlying theme of California’s most prominent union organizing campaigns in recent years—among warehouse workers east of Los Angeles, carwasheros in Los Angeles proper, and recycling workers in Oakland and Southern California—has been worker concerns about unsafe and unhealthy conditions at work. As labor visionaries like Tony Mazzocchi predicted, workers are deeply concerned about and can be successfully organized around workplace health and safety issues. Rank-and-file concerns about health and safety, however, have not been taken up by union officials or lobbyists who view health and safety as a lower priority than labor legislation or gubernatorial appointees. ….

….What Cal/OSHA (along with the Fed OSHA and other state plans) needs is the political will on the part of politicians and their appointees to make worker health and safety a priority, ensure worker safety agencies have the staffing and resources they need to enforce the law, and withstand inevitable employer campaigns against effective worker protection regulations and their implementation. Creating this political will depends on the labor movement making workplace safety a “non-negotiable demand,” along with its other priorities in both contract talks and political campaigns. The labor movement needs to return to the campaigning of the 1960s and 1970s that made worker health and safety a cause célèbre—and established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration under Republican President Nixon—not only for unions but also for OHS professional organizations, for the environmental movement concerned that toxic exposures inside the plant will generate toxic exposures outside the plant, and for the working public as a whole.

Among the campaigns labor could lead, and win support from other working-class and community organizations, are efforts to ensure OSHA agencies have the staffing and resources needed to effectively protect workers on the job; to undertake special efforts to protect particularly vulnerable workers such as immigrants and Latino workers in general who suffer higher rates of injury, illness, and death; and to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that poison workers, surrounding communities, and even consumers. ….

FALQs: Vaccination Law in the United States

Source: Robert Brammer and Barbara Bavis, In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress blog, February 4, 2015

This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice. To obtain legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. United States vaccination requirements have been in the news, particularly following what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described as “a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.” As such, many questions have arisen as to the laws regarding vaccination and immunization in the United States. The answers to these questions are not as simple as one might think….

For rested workers, let them pick their hours

Source: Victoria Indivero-Penn State, Futurity, January 27, 2015

Letting people decide where and when they’ll clock their working hours may help cut sleep deficiency….

About 30 percent of US adults reported not regularly getting a sufficient amount of sleep, a 2012 Centers for Disease Control survey found. Sleep deficiency has been linked to increased risk of automobile crashes, chronic disease, and early mortality.

Improving adequate sleep within the population is a goal of Healthy People 2020, a federal initiative that sets national objectives and monitors progress concerning the health of the nation.

Buxton and colleagues looked to see if a workplace intervention, designed to increase family-supportive supervision and give employees more control over their work time, improved sleep quantity and quality. They report their results online in the journal Sleep Health…..
A workplace intervention improves sleep: results from the randomized controlled Work, Family, and Health Study
Source: Ryan Olson, Tori L. Crain, Todd E. Bodner, Rosalind King, Leslie B. Hammer, Laura Cousino Klein, Leslie Erickson, Phyllis Moen, Lisa F. Berkman, Orfeu M. Buxton, Sleep Health, Article in Press, Published Online: January 14, 2015
(subscription required)

Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of U.S. Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts

Source: Fangyi Gu, Jiali Han, Francine Laden, An Pan, Neil E. Caporaso, Meir J. Stampfer, Ichiro Kawachi, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Walter C. Willett, Susan E. Hankinson, Frank E. Speizer, Eva S. Schernhammer, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof, Published Online: January 6, 2015

From the abstract:
Background: Rotating night shift work imposes circadian strain and is linked to the risk of several chronic diseases.

Purpose: To examine associations between rotating night shift work and all-cause; cardiovascular disease (CVD); and cancer mortality in a prospective cohort study of 74,862 registered U.S. nurses from the Nurses’ Health Study.

Methods: Lifetime rotating night shift work (defined as ≥3 nights/month) information was collected in 1988. During 22 years (1988–2010) of follow-up, 14,181 deaths were documented, including 3,062 CVD and 5,413 cancer deaths. Cox proportional hazards models estimated multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs.

Results: All-cause and CVD mortality were significantly increased among women with ≥5 years of rotating night shift work, compared to women who never worked night shifts. Specifically, for women with 6–14 and ≥15 years of rotating night shift work, the HRs were 1.11 (95% CI=1.06, 1.17) and 1.11 (95% CI=1.05, 1.18) for all-cause mortality and 1.19 (95% CI=1.07, 1.33) and 1.23 (95% CI=1.09, 1.38) for CVD mortality. There was no significant association between rotating night shift work and all-cancer mortality (HR≥15years=1.08, 95% CI=0.98, 1.19) or mortality of any individual cancer, with the exception of lung cancer (HR≥15years=1.25, 95% CI=1.04, 1.51).

Conclusions: Women working rotating night shifts for ≥5 years have a modest increase in all-cause and CVD mortality; those working ≥15 years of rotating night shift work have a modest increase in lung cancer mortality. These results add to prior evidence of a potentially detrimental effect of rotating night shift work on health and longevity.

Coping During Public Service Delivery: A Conceptualization and Systematic Review of the Literature

Source: Lars L. G. Tummers, Victor Bekkers, Evelien Vink and Michael Musheno, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Access, January 12, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Frontline workers, such as teachers and social workers, often experience stress when delivering public services to clients, for instance because of high workloads. They adapt by coping, using such practices as breaking or bending rules for clients, or rationing services. Although coping is recognized as an important response to the problems of frontline work, the public administration field lacks a comprehensive view of coping. The first contribution of this article is therefore theoretical: conceptualizing coping during public service delivery and developing a coherent classification of coping. This is done via a systematic review of the literature from 1981 to 2014. The second contribution is empirical: via a systematic review of the literature from 1981–2014 this article provides a framework and analytical account of how coping during public service delivery has been studied since 1980. It highlights the importance of the type of profession (such as being a teacher or a police officer), the amount of workload, and the degree of discretion for understanding how frontline workers cope with stress. It also reveals that frontline workers often draw on the coping family “moving towards clients” revealing a strong tendency to provide meaningful public service to clients, even under stressful conditions. We conclude with an agenda for future studies, examining new theoretical, methodological and empirical opportunities to advance understanding of coping during public service delivery.

Changes in Body Mass Index Associated With Head Start Participation

Source: Julie C. Lumeng, Niko Kaciroti, Julie Sturza, Allison M. Krusky, Alison L. Miller, Karen E. Peterson, Robert Lipton, and Thomas M. Reischl, Pediatrics, eFirst Published online January 12, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to determine if Head Start participation is associated with healthy changes in BMI.

METHODS: The sample included children participating in Head Start between 2005 and 2013 and children from 2 comparison groups drawn from a Michigan primary care health system: 5405 receiving Medicaid and 19 320 not receiving Medicaid. Change in BMI z score from the beginning to the end of each of 2 academic years and the intervening summer was compared between groups by using piecewise linear mixed models adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS: The total sample included 43 748 children providing 83 239 anthropometric measures. The Head Start sample was 64.9% white, 10.8% black, and 14.4% Hispanic; 16.8% of the children were obese and 16.6% were overweight at the initial observation. Children who entered Head Start as obese exhibited a greater decline in the BMI z score during the first academic year versus the comparison groups (β = –0.70 [SE: 0.05] vs –0.07 [0.08] in the Medicaid group [P < .001] and –0.15 [SE: 0.05] in the Not Medicaid group [P < .001]); patterns were similar for overweight children. Head Start participants were less obese, less overweight, and less underweight at follow-up than children in the comparison groups. CONCLUSIONS: Preschool-aged children with an unhealthy weight status who participated in Head Start had a significantly healthier BMI by kindergarten entry age than comparison children in a primary care health system (both those receiving and those not receiving Medicaid).

Influenza 101: What You Need to Know

Source: Deborah Hale, Home Healthcare Nurse, Vol 32 no. 9, October 2014
(subscription required)

Each year, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population is infected with the influenza virus. The influenza season occurs annually between the months of October and May, with 3,000 to 49,000 influenza-related deaths each year. Since complications delay recuperation, those in high-risk groups need to be monitored carefully. High-risk groups are more vulnerable to severe illness and complications of the disease and include: people older than 65 years of age, children under 2 years of age, pregnant women, obese patients, and patients with other serious comorbid conditions. This article provides home healthcare clinicians with important information on influenza, how it is transmitted, influenza virus types and changes in the virus, signs and symptoms of complications, and measures to prevent the occurrence and transmission of influenza.

Work-Family Context and the Longevity Disadvantage of US Women

Source: Jennifer Karas Montez, Pekka Martikainen, Hanna Remes, Mauricio Avendano, Social Forces, Advance Access, First published online: November 18, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Female life expectancy is currently shorter in the United States than in most high-income countries. This study examines work-family context as a potential explanation. While work-family context changed similarly across high-income countries during the past half century, the United States has not implemented institutional supports, such as universally available childcare and family leave, to help Americans contend with these changes. We compare the United States to Finland—a country with similar trends in work-family life but generous institutional supports—and test two hypotheses to explain US women’s longevity disadvantage: (1) US women may be less likely than Finnish women to combine employment with childrearing; and (2) US women’s longevity may benefit less than Finnish women’s longevity from combining employment with childrearing. We used data from women aged 30–60 years during 1988–2006 in the US National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality File and harmonized it with data from Finnish national registers. We found stronger support for hypothesis 1, especially among low-educated women. Contrary to hypothesis 2, combining employment and childrearing was not less beneficial for US women’s longevity. In a simulation exercise, more than 75 percent of US women’s longevity disadvantage was eliminated by raising their employment levels to Finnish levels and reducing mortality rates of non-married/non-employed US women to Finnish rates.