Category Archives: Health & Safety

The Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention Kit

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), January 25, 2018

Workplace violence is a serious hazard that many CUPE members face every day. The purpose of the kit is to provide members with resources to help protect them against violence and harassment in the workplace. Far too often, employers develop policies and procedures that only react to violence and harassment. This approach is not good enough. CUPE’s new kit focuses primarily on preventing violence and harassment in the workplace before it happens….

The Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention Kit includes:
Guideline: Preventing violence and harassment in the workplace
Fact Sheet: Working alone
Violence and harassment legislation in Canada by Jurisdiction
Checklist: Sample violence hazard assessment/inspection
CUPE’s Code of Conduct
CUPE’s Equality Statement
Violent Incident Report
Checklist: Response to a violent incident
Bargaining Guide: Domestic violence in the workplace
Guideline: Stop harassment: a guide for CUPE locals
Workplace harassment and mental injuries: examining root causes
Fact Sheet: What is the duty to accommodate?

High-fat diets may be worse for shift workers

Source: Christina Sumners, Futurity, February 6, 2018

Shift workers’ constantly changing schedules make it tough for their biological clocks to keep accurate time. The results could make the negative effects of a high-fat diet even more pronounced, a new study suggests.

About 15 million Americans don’t have a typical nine-to-five workday, and many of them—nurses, firefighters, and flight attendants, among other professions—may see their schedule change drastically one week to the next…..

Related:

Shift work cycle-induced alterations of circadian rhythms potentiate the effects of high fat diet on inflammation and metabolism
Source: Sam-Moon Kim, Nichole Neuendorff, Robert C. Alaniz, Yuxiang Sun, Robert S. Chapkin, and David J. Earnest, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, Published Online: 5 Feb 2018

From the abstract:
Based on genetic models with mutation or deletion of core clock genes, circadian disruption has been implicated in the pathophysiology of metabolic disorders. Thus, we examined whether circadian desynchronization in response to shift work–type schedules is sufficient to compromise metabolic homeostasis and whether inflammatory mediators provide a key link in the mechanism by which alterations of circadian timekeeping contribute to diet-induced metabolic dysregulation. In high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice, exposure to chronic shifts of the light–dark cycle (12 h advance every 5 d): 1) disrupts photoentrainment of circadian behavior and modulates the period of spleen and macrophage clock gene rhythms; 2) potentiates HFD-induced adipose tissue infiltration and activation of proinflammatory M1 macrophages; 3) amplifies macrophage proinflammatory cytokine expression in adipose tissue and bone marrow–derived macrophages; and 4) exacerbates diet-induced increases in body weight, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance in the absence of changes in total daily food intake. Thus, complete disruption of circadian rhythmicity or clock gene function as transcription factors is not requisite to the link between circadian and metabolic phenotypes. These findings suggest that macrophage proinflammatory activation and inflammatory signaling are key processes in the physiologic cascade by which dysregulation of circadian rhythmicity exacerbates diet-induced systemic insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.

Unpaid Caregiving Roles and Sleep Among Women Working in Nursing Homes: A Longitudinal Study

Source: Nicole DePasquale, Martin J Sliwinski, Steven H Zarit, Orfeu M Buxton, David M Almeida, The Gerontologist, Advance Access, Published: January 19, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background and Objectives:
Although sleep is a critical health outcome providing insight into overall health, well-being, and role functioning, little is known about the sleep consequences of simultaneously occupying paid and unpaid caregiving roles. This study investigated the frequency with which women employed in U.S.-based nursing homes entered and exited unpaid caregiving roles for children (double-duty-child caregivers), adults (double-duty-elder caregivers), or both (triple-duty caregivers), as well as examined how combinations of and changes in these caregiving roles related to cross-sectional and longitudinal sleep patterns.

Research Design and Methods:
The sample comprised 1,135 women long-term care employees who participated in the baseline wave of the Work, Family, and Health Study and were assessed at three follow-up time points (6-, 12-, and 18-months). Sleep was assessed with items primarily adapted from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and wrist actigraphic recordings. Multilevel models with data nested within persons were applied.

Results:
Women long-term care employees entered and exited the unpaid elder caregiving role most frequently. At baseline, double-duty-child and triple-duty caregivers reported shorter sleep quantity and poorer sleep quality than their counterparts without unpaid caregiving roles, or workplace-only caregivers. Double-duty-elder caregivers also reported shorter sleep duration compared to workplace-only caregivers. Over time, double-duty-elder caregiving role entry was associated with negative changes in subjective sleep quantity and quality.

Discussion and Implications:
Simultaneously occupying paid and unpaid caregiving roles has negative implications for subjective sleep characteristics. These results call for further research to advance understanding of double-and-triple-duty caregivers’ sleep health and facilitate targeted intervention development.

Fatal work-related falls in the United States, 2003-2014

Source: Christina M. Socias-Morales, Cammie K. Chaumont Menéndez, Suzanne M. Marsh, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 30 January 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Falls are the second leading cause of work-related fatalities among US workers. We describe fatal work-related falls from 2003 to 2014, including demographic, work, and injury event characteristics, and changes in rates over time.

Methods:
We identified fatal falls from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and estimated rates using the BLS Current Population Survey.

Results:
From 2003 to 2014, there were 8880 fatal work-related falls, at an annual rate of 5.5 per million FTE. Rates increased with age. Occupations with the highest rates included construction/extraction (42.2 per million FTE) and installation/maintenance/repair (12.5 per million FTE). Falls to a lower level represented the majority (n = 7521, 85%) compared to falls on the same level (n = 1128, 13%).

Conclusions:
Falls are a persistent source of work-related fatalities. Fall prevention should continue to focus on regulation adherence, Prevention through Design, improving fall protection, training, fostering partnerships, and increasing communication.

Examining Exposure Assessment in Shift Work Research: A Study on Depression Among Nurses

Source: Amy L Hall Renée-Louise Franche Mieke Koehoorn, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, Advance Access, January 11, 2018

From the abstract:
Introduction:
Coarse exposure assessment and assignment is a common issue facing epidemiological studies of shift work. Such measures ignore a number of exposure characteristics that may impact on health, increasing the likelihood of biased effect estimates and masked exposure–response relationships. To demonstrate the impacts of exposure assessment precision in shift work research, this study investigated relationships between work schedule and depression in a large survey of Canadian nurses.

Methods:
The Canadian 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses provided the analytic sample (n = 11450). Relationships between work schedule and depression were assessed using logistic regression models with high, moderate, and low-precision exposure groupings. The high-precision grouping described shift timing and rotation frequency, the moderate-precision grouping described shift timing, and the low-precision grouping described the presence/absence of shift work. Final model estimates were adjusted for the potential confounding effects of demographic and work variables, and bootstrap weights were used to generate sampling variances that accounted for the survey sample design.

Results:
The high-precision exposure grouping model showed the strongest relationships between work schedule and depression, with increased odds ratios [ORs] for rapidly rotating (OR = 1.51, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.91–2.51) and undefined rotating (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 0.92–3.02) shift workers, and a decreased OR for depression in slow rotating (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.57–1.08) shift workers. For the low- and moderate-precision exposure grouping models, weak relationships were observed for all work schedule categories (OR range 0.95 to 0.99).

Conclusions:
Findings from this study support the need to consider and collect the data required for precise and conceptually driven exposure assessment and assignment in future studies of shift work and health. Further research into the effects of shift rotation frequency on depression is also recommended.

#MeTooWhatNext: Strengthening Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections and Accountability

Source: Maya Raghu & JoAnna Suriani, December 2017

From the summary:
Employees are protected from workplace sexual harassment – a form of sex discrimination defined as unwelcome attention or behavior that workers experience because of their sex – by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. Almost every state also has some form of workplace antidiscrimination law providing protections. Yet sexual harassment remains a widespread problem, affecting workers in every state, in every kind of workplace setting and industry, and at every level of employment. In Federal Fiscal Year 2016, nearly 30,000 harassment charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); nearly one-quarter of those charges alleged sexual harassment, and 83.4 percent of sexual harassment charges were brought by women. But the charge statistics do not even begin to represent the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace, given that a survey found that 70 percent of workers who experience sexual harassment say they have never reported it. Whether suffering harassment from supervisors, coworkers, or third parties, such as customers, most victims of harassment are suffering in silence.

Related:
ISSUE PAGE: #MeTooWhatNext

FACT SHEET: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: FAQ About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Why Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment
FACT SHEET: Fair Employment Protection Act (S. 3089, H.R. 5693) Section-by-Section Summary
FACT SHEET: The Fair Employment Protection Act: Restoring Protections from Workplace Harassment

Union Women: #MeToo & #TIMESUP Movement
Source: Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), 2018

Top 10 Things Unions Can Do Right Now to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Source: Ana Avendaño and Linda Seabrook, On Labor blog, November 10, 2017

…. The following are practices that unions could adopt right now to address sexual harassment in America’s workplaces:

1)      Recognize that sexual harassment is a workers’ rights issue. ….
2)      Make sure that the union’s constitution and collectively bargained agreements contain guarantees against sexual harassment and retaliation. ….
3)      Address member-on-member harassment. ….
4)      Create a union culture that connects union values and behavior and welcomes women as equal partners in the struggle for social and economic justice. ….
5)      Focus on prevention. ….
6)      Encourage men—especially male leaders—to step up, speak out, and work to change the culture. ….
7)      Create channels for members, union staff and others to report harassment quickly, before it escalates, without having to resort to formal mechanisms. ….
8)      Train stewards in trauma-informed practices on handling claims of harassment. ….
9)      Protect victims who file charges of harassment against retaliation. ….
10)   Give women a voice in the grievance process, and include them as active participants. ….

Same-level fall injuries in US workplaces by age group, gender, and industry

Source: Kenneth A. Scott, Gwenith G. Fisher, Anna E. Barón, Emile Tompa, Lorann Stallones and Carolyn DiGuiseppi, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 2, February 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
As the workforce ages, occupational injuries from falls on the same level will increase. Some industries may be more affected than others.

Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate same-level fall injury incidence rates by age group, gender, and industry for four sectors: 1) healthcare and social assistance; 2) manufacturing; 3) retail; and 4) transportation and warehousing. We calculated rate ratios and rate differences by age group and gender.

Results
Same-level fall injury incidence rates increase with age in all four sectors. However, patterns of rate ratios and rate differences vary by age group, gender, and industry. Younger workers, men, and manufacturing workers generally have lower rates.
Conclusions

Variation in incidence rates suggests there are unrealized opportunities to prevent same-level fall injuries. Interventions should be evaluated for their effectiveness at reducing injuries, avoiding gender- or age-discrimination and improving work ability.

Death in the Trench

Source: Jim Morris, Center for Public Integrity, December 14, 2017

Jim Spencer suffocated under a pile of dirt in Nebraska — a grim reminder of the weakness of America’s worker-safety law. ….

…. The general contractor overseeing the building of the house, Clau-Chin Construction, had outsourced the trench-digging to an excavation contractor, Larry Kessler Construction. Interviewed by officials with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after Spencer’s death, the owners of both companies – Shaun Houchin, of Clau-Chin, and Kessler —  professed ignorance of the OSHA trenching standard. Both were cited and assessed fines of $24,800 and $16,800, respectively. “To me, that was nothing,” Cheryl Spencer says. “How is it you can kill somebody with a car and get charged with vehicular homicide, and kill somebody in a trench and get a slap on the wrist?” It’s a fair question. The unsatisfying answer is that the protection of workers is not a priority in the United States. ….

The Effectiveness of Guided Imagery in Treating Compassion Fatigue and Anxiety of Mental Health Workers

Source: Kimberly A Kiley, Ashwini R Sehgal, Susan Neth, Jacqueline Dolata, Earl Pike, James C Spilsbury, Jeffrey M Albert, Social Work Research, Advance Articles, Published: January 4, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Mental health professionals’ exposure to clients’ traumatic experiences can result in elevated stress, including compassion fatigue and burnout. Experiencing symptoms of these types of stress can hinder workers’ ability to provide effective services. If a tool can reduce these symptoms, there is potential benefit for workers as well as those receiving their services. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of prerecorded guided imagery (GI) on compassion fatigue and state anxiety. A total of 69 employees of a mental health nonprofit organization participated in this two-arm randomized controlled trial. Participants completed the Professional Quality of Life Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, and question 6 from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index at baseline and follow-up, and completed State Trait Anxiety Inventory short form before and after each activity (GI or taking a break). Results revealed statistically significant differences in change scores between the control and experimental groups for state anxiety and sleep quality. The results suggest that GI may be useful for reducing stress for mental health professionals, which could have positive implications for quality of service delivery.