Category Archives: Health & Safety

COVID‐19 deaths by occupation, Massachusetts, March 1–July 31, 2020

Source: Devan Hawkins, Letitia Davis, David Kriebel, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, February 1, 2021

From the abstract:
Background
Exposure to COVID‐19 is more likely among certain occupations compared with others. This descriptive study seeks to explore occupational differences in mortality due to COVID‐19 among workers in Massachusetts.

Methods
Death certificates of those who died from COVID‐19 in Massachusetts between March 1 and July 31, 2020 were collected. Occupational information was coded and age‐adjusted mortality rates were calculated according to occupation.

Results
There were 555 deaths among MA residents of age 16–64, with usable occupation information, resulting in an age‐adjusted mortality rate of 16.4 per 100,000 workers. Workers in 11 occupational groups including healthcare support and transportation and material moving had mortality rates higher than that for workers overall. Hispanic and Black workers had age‐adjusted mortality rates more than four times higher than that for White workers overall and also had higher rates than Whites within high‐risk occupation groups.

Conclusion
Efforts should be made to protect workers in high‐risk occupations identified in this report from COVID‐19 exposure.

Voices of Strength: A Survey of Librarians Working with Chronic Illnesses or Conditions

Source: Susan Rathbun-Grubb, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61 no. 1, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This research attempts to understand the ways that librarians overcome the challenges associated with a chronic condition in the workplace. Six hundred sixteen respondents completed a survey about type of workplace, type of chronic condition, longevity of the condition, disclosure, accommodations, level of support, career mobility and advancement, work challenges, coping strategies, and perceptions on disability. Respondents report chronic illness and conditions of all sorts, both visible and invisible, with 46% having more than one type of illness. They cope by using creative strategies to supplement or replace formal accommodations, however 39% believe that their condition has negatively impacted their career advancement.

Responsibilities and Rights of Employers and Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Joseph Maya, Julia Audibert, Zachary Sipala, Caroline Vandis, Calvin Carson, and Emily Prudente, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 71, Issue No. 4, Winter 2020
(subscription required)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), Equal Employment Opportunity laws (which encompass the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are long-standing pillars of employment law in this country. Collectively, they aim to ensure individual privacy, safe work environments, and equal treatment free from discrimination in the workplace. Given their appealing and sensical nature, it seems axiomatic that these statutes and agencies operate in concert. However, complying with their provisions during a global pandemic requires navigating murky waters. In practice, these laws present sometimes competing demands for many employers and employees trying to understand the new reality imposed by COVID-19. Striking an effective balance between these rights and responsibilities during the upheaval caused by COVID-19 incurs a host of relatively novel challenges. In this article, the attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. demystify how to serve the best interests of employers and employees and offer a comprehensive analysis of legal guidelines, both old and new, to inform our readers how to best achieve that balance.

Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Home Health and Home Care Agency Managers, Clients, and Aides: A Cross-Sectional Survey, March to June, 2020

Source: Susan R. Sama, ScD, Margaret M. Quinn, ScD, Catherine J. Galligan, et. al., Home Health Care Management & Practice, OnlineFirst Published December 11, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Home health and home care (HH&HC) agencies provide essential medical and supportive services to elders and people with disabilities, enabling them to live at home. Home-based care is an important alternative to facility-based care, especially for infection prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the HH&HC workforce is comprised of aides, who also are vulnerable to COVID-19. There are limited data on the COVID-19 experience of HH&HC agencies, clients and aides. A survey of Massachusetts HH&HC agency managers was conducted June 1 to 30, 2020 to assess the impact of COVID-19 on agencies, clients, and aides early in the pandemic and to identify needs for future pandemic planning. Of the 94 agencies with completed surveys, most (59.6%) provided services to clients with COVID-19 and 3-quarters (73.7%) employed aides who tested positive for COVID-19, were symptomatic, and/or quarantined. Most agencies (98.7%) experienced a decrease in demand for home visits, reflecting clients’ concern about infection, family members assuming care duties, and/or aides being unavailable for work. Simultaneously, managers’ workloads increased to develop more extensive infection prevention policies, procedures and workforce training and sourcing scarce personal protective equipment (PPE). The COVID-19 pandemic imposed substantial new infection prevention responsibilities on HH&HC agencies, clients, and aides. Specific HH&HC needs for future pandemic planning include complete information on the infection status of clients; ready access to affordable PPE and disinfectants; and guidance, tools, and training tailored for the industry. HH&HC should be incorporated more fully into comprehensive healthcare and public health pandemic planning.

Estimation of differential occupational risk of COVID‐19 by comparing risk factors with case data by occupational group

Source: Michael Zhang, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 1, January 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
The disease burden of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) is not uniform across occupations. Although healthcare workers are well‐known to be at increased risk, data for other occupations are lacking. In lieu of this, models have been used to forecast occupational risk using various predictors, but no model heretofore has used data from actual case numbers. This study assesses the differential risk of COVID‐19 by occupation using predictors from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database and correlating them with case counts published by the Washington State Department of Health to identify workers in individual occupations at highest risk of COVID‐19 infection.

Methods:
The ONET database was screened for potential predictors of differential COVID‐19 risk by occupation. Case counts delineated by occupational group were obtained from public sources. Prevalence by occupation was estimated and correlated with ONET data to build a regression model to predict individual occupations at greatest risk.

Results:
Two variables correlate with case prevalence: disease exposure (r = 0.66; p = 0.001) and physical proximity (r = 0.64; p = 0.002), and predict 47.5% of prevalence variance (p = 0.003) on multiple linear regression analysis. The highest risk occupations are in healthcare, particularly dental, but many nonhealthcare occupations are also vulnerable.

Conclusions:
Models can be used to identify workers vulnerable to COVID‐19, but predictions are tempered by methodological limitations. Comprehensive data across many states must be collected to adequately guide implementation of occupation‐specific interventions in the battle against COVID‐19.

Job Stress and Health of Elementary and Secondary School Educators in the United States

Source: Paul A. Landsbergis, Elina Shtridler, Amy Bahruth, Darryl Alexander, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, Volume 30 Issue 3, November 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Elementary and secondary school educators face many work stressors, which appear to be increasing due to economic, political, and social trends. Therefore, we analyzed data from a 2017 national American Federation of Teachers survey of U.S. education staff, including data from two New York School districts that have adopted collaborative labor-management practices. The national American Federation of Teachers sample of educators reported significantly higher prevalences of several work stressors and poorer physical and mental health compared to the U.S. workers overall, adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Compared with educators nationally, educators in districts with collaborative labor-management practices did not have a consistently higher or lower prevalence of work stressors or poorer health. Findings suggest the importance of reducing work stressors among U.S. educators. Results should be interpreted with caution due to the low educator survey response rate.

The Risk Of Severe COVID-19 Within Households Of School Employees And School-Age Children

Source: Thomas M. Selden, Terceira A. Berdahl, and Zhengyi Fang, Health Affairs, Vol. 39 no. 11, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Across the United States, school districts are grappling with questions of whether and how to reopen and keep open elementary and secondary schools in the 2020–21 academic year. Using household data from before the pandemic (2014–17), we examined how often people who have health conditions placing them at risk for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were connected to schools, either as employees or by living in the same households as school employees or school-age children. Between 42.0 percent and 51.4 percent of all school employees met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) definition of having or potentially having increased risk for severe COVID-19. Among all adults with CDC-defined risk factors for severe COVID-19, between 33.9 million and 44.2 million had direct or within-household connections to schools.

Workers’ compensation claims among private skilled nursing facilities, Ohio, 2001–2012

Source: Ashley M. Bush, Audrey A. Reichard, Steven J. Wurzelbacher, Chih‐Yu Tseng, Michael P. Lampl, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 12, December 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction:
Skilled nursing facilities have one of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness among all industries. This study quantifies the burden of occupational injury and illness in this industry using data from a single state‐based workers’ compensation (WC) system.

Methods:
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation claims from 2001 to 2012 were analyzed among privately owned, state‐insured skilled nursing facilities and are presented as claim counts and rates per 100 full‐time equivalents (FTE). Worker, employer, incident, and injury characteristics were examined among all claims and by medical‐only (medical care expenses and/or less than eight days away from work) and lost‐time (eight days or more away from work) claim types.

Results:
There were 56,442 claims in this population of Ohio skilled nursing facilities from 2001 to 2012. Overexertion and bodily reaction, slips, trips, and falls, and contact with objects and equipment accounted for the majority of all WC claims (89%). Overexertion and bodily reaction, and slips, trips, and falls comprised 85% of the 10,793 lost‐time claims. The highest injury event/exposure rates for all claims were for overexertion and bodily reaction (3.7 per 100 FTE for all claims), followed by slip, trips, and falls (2.1), and contact with objects and equipment (1.9).

Conclusion:
Understanding the details surrounding injury events and exposures resulting in WC claims can help better align prevention efforts, such as incorporation of safe patient handling policies and lifting aids, improvement in housekeeping practices, and employee training within skilled nursing facilities to prevent worker injury and mitigate related expenses.

Envisioning the future of work to safeguard the safety, health, and well‐being of the workforce: A perspective from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Source: Sara L. Tamers, Jessica Streit, Rene Pana‐Cryan, Tapas Ray, Laura Syron, Michael A. Flynn, Dawn Castillo, Gary Roth, Charles Geraci, Rebecca Guerin, Paul Schulte, Scott Henn, Chia‐Chia Chang, Sarah Felknor, John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 63, No. 12, December 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The future of work embodies changes to the workplace, work, and workforce, which require additional occupational safety and health (OSH) stakeholder attention. Examples include workplace developments in organizational design, technological job displacement, and work arrangements; work advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and technologies; and workforce changes in demographics, economic security, and skills. This paper presents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Future of Work Initiative; suggests an integrated approach to address worker safety, health, and well‐being; introduces priority topics and subtopics that confer a framework for upcoming future of work research directions and resultant practical applications; and discusses preliminary next steps. All future of work issues impact one another. Future of work transformations are contingent upon each of the standalone factors discussed in this paper and their combined effects. Occupational safety and health stakeholders are becoming more aware of the significance and necessity of these factors for the workplace, work, and workforce to flourish, merely survive, or disappear altogether as the future evolves. The future of work offers numerous opportunities, while also presenting critical but not clearly understood difficulties, exposures, and hazards. It is the responsibility of OSH researchers and other partners to understand the implications of future of work scenarios to translate effective interventions into practice for employers safeguarding the safety, health, and well‐being of their workers.