Category Archives: Health & Safety

Emergency Department Violence Surveillance Study

Source: Emergency Nurses Association, Institute for Emergency Nursing Research, August 2010

Nine hundred deaths and 1.7 million nonfatal assaults occur each year in the United States due to workplace violence. These numbers represent only the most serious physical violent incidents; the extent to which all types of violence are experienced in the workplace remains unknown. Workplace violence has been a serious concern for emergency nurses. In addition to psychiatric units and nursing homes, the emergency department (ED) is one of the most dangerous work settings in health care for nurses because of violence from patients and visitors.

Due to under-reporting, the occurrence of physical and verbal violence toward emergency nurses is not well understood. In addition, violence in the ED is likely increasing with the ongoing nursing shortage, crowding issues, and longer patient waiting times. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the actual extent of violence and aggression toward emergency nurses. Efforts to obtain ongoing objective data allows for tracking changes related to violence toward emergency nurses as well as the processes used to respond to violence.

When Doctors Become ‘Patients’: Advocating a Patient-Centered Approach for Health Care Workers in the Context of Mandatory Influenza Vaccinations and Informed Consent

Source: Christine Nero Coughlin, Nancy M. P. King, Kathi Kemper, Wake Forest University Legal Studies Paper No. 1656648, August 4, 2010

From the abstract:
Today’s health care delivery has evolved from a physician-centered model into a more patient-centered model. Although the definition and boundaries of the patient-centered health care movement are still being developed and refined, patient-centered care is arguably distinguishable, both historically and conceptually, from public health.

Nonetheless, just as public health concerns and individual medical choices have come together in some health care decision-making contexts for centuries, contemporary questions such as whether hospitals should mandate annual influenza vaccinations for their health care workers involve legal and ethical principles underlying the patient-centered movement, most notably that of informed consent.

This article discusses some of the legal arguments addressing health care employers’ mandatory influenza vaccination policies in the United States. In particular, we examine the relationship between influenza vaccination mandates imposed on health care workers by private sector employers and informed consent to vaccination, in the absence of federal or state vaccination requirements. This article proposes that the practice of requiring employees to sign a consent form when they receive the influenza vaccination as a condition of continued employment conflicts with the ethical and legal doctrine of informed consent, and concludes that when an employer’s policy effectively removes an employee’s freedom to choose whether to become vaccinated, it is unethical to require that health care worker to sign a consent form. The article advocates that if, despite controversy over such policies, employers choose to mandate immunization, they provide an alternative form, so that health care workers who would not seek vaccination except to avoid termination of employment may acknowledge that acquiescence to vaccination is informed but not voluntary.

Health Care-Associated Invasive MRSA Infections, 2005-2008

Source: Alexander J. Kallen, et al., Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 304 no. 6, August 11, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Taken together with data from more than 600 intensive care units nationwide, these findings suggest that there is a real decrease in MRSA infection rates among patients in US hospitals. As highlighted in the recently finalized US Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections,3 prevention of invasive MRSA infections is a national priority. Although these data suggest progress has occurred in preventing health care-associated MRSA infections, more challenges remain. Increasing adherence to existing recommendations and addressing MRSA transmission and prevention beyond inpatient settings are challenges that will require further effort and investigation if eliminating the goal of preventable health care-associated invasive MRSA infections is to be attained.

Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety

Source: United States Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), 2010

From the press release:
The United States Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), announces the release of Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety, which highlights the results of a U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) supported initiative to enhance emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety for firefighters and law enforcement officers.

Time to Call It Quits? The Safety and Health of Older Workers

Source: Philip Bohle, Claudia Pitts, Michael Quinlan, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 40, Number 1, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The workforces of many countries are aging, creating pressure for older workers to retire later despite greater vulnerability to various occupational safety and health (OSH) risks. Some specific risks to older workers arise from age-related physical or psychological changes, while others reflect exposures to poor work organization or employment conditions. This article reviews evidence on the nature of the OSH risks faced by older workers, focusing on work ability, contingent work, and working hours. Work ability, the capacity to meet the physical, mental, and social demands of a job, has been linked to positive health outcomes for older workers. However, work characteristics seem to be more critical than workers’ individual capacities. Contingent work is generally associated with poorer OSH outcomes, and older workers are more likely to be contingent, with special implications for their safety and health. There has been limited research on age and working hours, but risks for many physical and mental health problems are known to increase with shift work experience, and physiological and psychosocial changes associated with age may also increase injury risks. The authors discuss organizational practices and regulatory policies to protect and enhance the OSH of older workers.

Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in the Solid Waste Industry: A Call for Action

Source: Olumide Adewale Olorunnishola, Andrea Kidd-Taylor, Lamont Byrd, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, Volume 20, Number 2, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Work-related injuries and illnesses are multi-factorial and remain major problems of public health magnitude requiring the attention of all stakeholders in the solid waste industry. The objective of this article was to describe the patterns of occupational injury and illness (OII) reporting incidence among workers in a major private U. S. solid waste management company. A five-year (2003-2007) retrospective review of the corporate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) logs 300/300A/301 was conducted and employee OII reports (n = 1895) were analyzed from 37 establishments across 11 different states. The OII reporting rates were compared to industry average.

PCBs in Schools: What about School Maintenance Workers?

Source: David M. Newman, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, Volume 20, Number 2, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Driven by environmental and parent activists, government agencies are paying increasing attention to the issue of PCBs in in-place caulk, particularly in school buildings. At the same time, there is insufficient consideration of the school maintenance workers and contractors who maintain and replace PCB caulk, even though they may constitute the school population with the highest exposures and risks. This commentary briefly assesses recent PCB-related developments at the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the New York State Education Department from an occupational health perspective.
Related:
Herrick’s Response to Newman’s PCBs in Schools: What about School Maintenance Workers?
Source: Robert F. Herrick, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, Volume 20, Number 2, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions For Worker Safety and Health During Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Source: Occupational Health & Safety Administration, accessed online September 2010

While most workers can stay inside during such a storm, some workers may be required to go into the storm. This may include utility workers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, federal, state and local government personnel (such as sanitation and highway workers), and military personnel.

Many of the hazards occur to workers immediately after the storm has passed, such as during cleanup and utility restoration work. These activities are even more hazardous in areas of flooding, which are often caused by these storms.

Public Health Preparedness for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Weapons

Source: Lois M. Davis, Jeanne S. Ringel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009

From the summary:
The U.S. public health and health-care delivery systems are important components of our nation’s preparedness against terrorism and other public health threats. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax attacks later that year renewed government, public health, and medical personnel’s awareness of chemical, biological, and, to a lesser extent, radiological and nuclear threats. It also underscored the importance of ensuring the nation’s overall preparedness and ability to respond to terrorism and other public health emergencies. This document presents a broad overview of the U.S. public health response system, recent efforts to improve preparedness, challenges faced, and options for moving forward.

Managers’ Support of Home-Work Balance Affects Employees’ Health, Study Finds

Source: Deane Beebe, Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, 09 September 2010

A new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study found that when long-term care managers are supportive of employees’ needs to balance home and work responsibilities, the employees slept longer and were less likely to have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) than employees whose supervisors were less supportive.

These research findings point to the need for training in management practices, according to the study’s authors.