Category Archives: Health & Safety

Zika: Resources at Your Fingertips

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Current as of June 6, 2016

This document provides Zika virus disease resources and an overview of public health and healthcare system considerations and implications that are applicable to professionals in those systems, emergency management stakeholders, and other audiences. Appendix A contains resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and relevant contact links. Appendix B includes citations with annotations for additional relevant resources and Zika Guidance. Finally, individuals can review ASPR TRACIE (Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange) Topic Collections, which provide a wide array of materials and resources for further research.
About the Zika Virus Planning Resources
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), June 2, 2016

Global warming to expose more people to Zika-spreading mosquito Aedes aegypti

Source: Andrew Monaghan, The Conversation, June 16, 2016

As Americans ready themselves for the arrival of mosquitoes this summer, many may be wondering whether they are at risk for tropical diseases like Zika and whether climate change will raise the risks of infection.

My colleagues and I recently completed a study examining how projected changes in climate and human population may increase global exposure to the mosquito that spreads these viruses: Aedes aegypti.
We found that both climate change and human population change will play a part in driving future human exposure to Aedes aegypti globally. In the United States, specifically, warming temperatures from climate change mean that this disease-spreading mosquito will be increasingly abundant in the southern and eastern U.S….
The potential impacts of 21st century climatic and population changes on human exposure to the virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti
Source: Andrew J. Monaghan, K. M. Sampson, D. F. Steinhoff, K. C. Ernst, K. L. Ebi, B. Jones, M. H. Hayden, Climatic Change, First Online: 25 April 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The mosquito Aedes (Ae). aegypti transmits the viruses that cause dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever. We investigate how choosing alternate emissions and/or socioeconomic pathways may modulate future human exposure to Ae. aegypti. Occurrence patterns for Ae. aegypti for 2061–2080 are mapped globally using empirically downscaled air temperature and precipitation projections from the Community Earth System Model, for the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. Population growth is quantified using gridded global population projections consistent with two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), SSP3 and SSP5. Change scenarios are compared to a 1950–2000 reference period. A global land area of 56.9 M km2 is climatically suitable for Ae. aegypti during the reference period, and is projected to increase by 8 % (RCP4.5) to 13 % (RCP8.5) by 2061–2080. The annual average number of people exposed globally to Ae. aegypti for the reference period is 3794 M, a value projected to statistically significantly increase by 298–460 M (8–12 %) by 2061–2080 if only climate change is considered, and by 4805–5084 M (127–134 %) for SSP3 and 2232–2483 M (59–65 %) for SSP5 considering both climate and population change (lower and upper values of each range represent RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively). Thus, taking the lower-emissions RCP4.5 pathway instead of RCP8.5 may mitigate future human exposure to Ae. aegypti globally, but the effect of population growth on exposure will likely be larger. Regionally, Australia, Europe and North America are projected to have the largest percentage increases in human exposure to Ae. aegypti considering only climate change.

Women And The Zika Virus: Smart Questions And A Few Solid Answers

Source: Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, June 13, 2016

….. What’s the danger? A lot is up in the air, since there’s not a ton of research on the virus. Here’s a quick breakdown of the smart questions to ask and what we do actually know.
• I’m a woman of childbearing age. What if I get Zika? …..
• I am pregnant. What steps should I take to protect myself? …..
• I went somewhere where Zika-carrying mosquitoes have been detected, but I feel fine. Can I carry on as normal? …..
• I have Zika, and I’m pregnant. What do I do? …..
• This is scary, and it’s a lot of information. How else can I stay up to date? …..

Gaps In Women’s Health Care May Derail Zika Prevention In Texas, Florida
Source: Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, June 14, 2016

The War on Workers’ Comp

Source: Stephen Franklin, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, June 13, 2016

For nearly a century, millions of workers have endured punishing jobs in construction, mining and factory work—jobs with high levels of work-related disability and injury. As a tradeoff for the dangers, they’ve had the assurance of workers’ compensation if injured permanently on the job. Employers accepted this deal, albeit sometimes grudgingly, because it  removed the possibility of being sued over work-related injuries. 

But as labor has weakened and Republicans have won control of more and more statehouses, states have slowly chipped away at workers’ compensation benefits.

Since just 2003, more than 30 states have passed laws that have “reduced benefits for injured workers, created hurdles for medical care or made it more difficult for workers to qualify,” according to a recent investigative series by ProPublica and NPR. Some of the harshest cuts came in California, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas, Indiana and Tennessee. Today, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many injured and disabled workers “never enter the workers’ compensation system.” OSHA also estimates that workers’ compensation covers only about 21 percent of the lost wages and medical bills encountered by injured workers and their families…..

Your stroke risk climbs if you work weird hours

Source: Christina Sumners – Texas A&M,, June 2, 2016

People who work rotating shifts or who change sleeping and eating schedules often are more likely to have a severe stroke, a new study finds.

It’s not the longer hours—or the weird hours—that necessarily seem to be the problem, according to David Earnest, a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Instead, it’s the change in the timing of waking, sleeping, and eating every few days that “unwinds” body clocks and makes it difficult to maintain a natural, 24-hour cycle.

“A person on a shift work schedule, especially on rotating shifts, challenges, or confuses, their internal body clocks by having irregular sleep-wake patterns or meal times,” says Earnest.

When body clocks are disrupted, as they are when people go to bed and get up at radically different times every few days, it takes a toll on health.

Earnest and his team found that shift work schedules were linked to more severe stroke outcomes, in terms of both brain damage and loss of sensation and limb movement, based on research with animal models.

They also found males and females show major differences in the degree to which the stroke was exacerbated by circadian rhythm disruption; in males, the gravity of stroke outcomes in response to shift work schedules was much worse than in females.
Sex Differences in the Impact of Shift Work Schedules on Pathological Outcomes in an Animal Model of Ischemic Stroke
Source: David J. Earnest, Nichole Neuendorff, Jason Coffman, Amutha Selvamani, and Farida Sohrabji, Endocrinology, First Published Online: June 2, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Circadian clock desynchronization has been implicated in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease and related risk factors (e.g., obesity, diabetes). Thus, we examined the extent to which circadian desynchronization exacerbates ischemic stroke outcomes and whether its detrimental effects on stroke severity and functional impairments are further modified by biological sex. Circadian entrainment of activity rhythms in all male and female rats was observed during exposure to a fixed light:dark (LD) 12:12 cycle but was severely disrupted when this LD cycle was routinely shifted (12hr advance/5d) for ≈ 7 weeks. In contrast to the regular estrous cycles in fixed LD animals, cyclicity was abolished and persistent estrus was evident in all shifted LD females. The disruption of estrous cyclicity in shifted LD females was associated with a significant increase in serum estradiol levels relative to that observed in fixed LD controls. Circadian rhythm disruption exacerbated stroke outcomes in both shifted LD male and female rats and further amplified sex differences in stroke impairments. In males, but not females, circadian disruption after exposure to the shifted LD cycle was marked by high rates of mortality. In surviving females, circadian desynchronization following exposure to shifted LD cycles produced significant increases in stroke-induced infarct volume and sensorimotor deficits with corresponding decreases in serum IGF-1 levels. These results suggest that circadian rhythm disruption associated with shift work schedules or the irregular nature of our everyday work and/or social environments may interact with other non-modifiable risk factors such as biological sex to modulate the pathological effects of stroke.

Workplace psychosocial and organizational factors for neck pain in workers in the United States

Source: Haiou Yang, Edward Hitchcock, Scott Haldeman, Naomi Swanson, Ming-Lun Lu, BongKyoo, Akinori Nakata, and Dean Baker, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 59, Issue 7, July 2016

From the abstract:
Background: Neck pain is a prevalent musculoskeletal condition among workers in the United States. This study explores a set of workplace psychosocial and organization-related factors for neck pain.
Methods: Data used for this study come from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey which provides a representative sample of the US population. To account for the complex sampling design, the Taylor linearized variance estimation method was used. Logistic regression models were constructed to measure the associations.
Results: This study demonstrated significant associations between neck pain and a set of workplace risk factors, including work-family imbalance, exposure to a hostile work environment and job insecurity, non-standard work arrangements, multiple jobs, and long work hours.
Conclusion: Workers with neck pain may benefit from intervention programs that address issues related to these workplace risk factors. Future studies exploring both psychosocial risk factors and physical risk factors with a longitudinal design will be important.

Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk Intervention

Source: Gregory Garrett, Mark Benden, Ranjana Mehta, Adam Pickens, Camille Peres & Hongwei Zhao, IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, Published online: 24 May 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Many office employees are spending up to 90% of their workday seated, and employers are considering stand-capable desks as a way to increase physical activity throughout the day. When deciding on adoption of stand-capable workstations, a major concern for employers is that the benefits, over time, may not offset the initial cost of implementation.
Methods: This study compared objective measures of productivity over time between a group of stand-capable desk users and a seated control group in a call center. Comparison analysis was completed for continuous six-month secondary data for 167 employees, across two job categories.
Results: Users of stand-capable desks were ∼45% more productive on a daily basis compared to their seated counterparts. Further, productivity of the stand-capable desk users significantly increased over time, from ∼23% in the first month to ∼53% over the next six months. Finally, this productivity increase was similar for employees across both job categories.
Conclusions: These findings suggest important benefits of employing stand-capable desks in the work force to increase productivity. Prospective studies that include employee health status, perceptions of (dis)comfort and preference over time, along with productivity metrics, are needed to test the effectiveness of stand-capable desks on employee health and performance.
Stand-capable desk use in a call center: a six-month follow-up pilot study
Source: A.W. Pickens, M.M. Kress, M.E. Benden, H. Zhao, M. Wendel, J.J. Congleton, Public Health, Volume 135, June 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
•The current study is a longitudinal cohort study following stand-capable workstation intervention usage patterns in an in-situ environment.
•Results of sedentary time, among many other measurements including body discomfort data were tracked over baseline, three, and six month follow-up periods.
•Subjects were in a regional call center and online surveys were used to collect discomfort and self-reported seated/standing habits, physical activity, and demographics. Wearable ActivPal® sensors were used to monitor actual sedentary time in-situ for each subject.
•Results indicated a strong adoption phase, as corresponds with current literature. However, when tracked over time, study results indicated no significant change in the stand-capable workstation user habits over the 6-month period.
•This is something unique to this study as most current studies indicate a significant drop-off in stand-capable desk use over time after the initial adoption phase.

Dirty and Dangerous: Worker Safety and Health in New York City’s Scofflaw Commercial Waste Industry

Source: David M. Newman, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), May 2016

Workers who collect, transport, sort, and transfer residential and commercial waste for recycling or disposal perform an essential public health service, often at great risk of injury, illness, or death. Waste collection work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Waste workers are ten times more likely to be killed on the job than the average worker and two and a half times more likely to be injured than miners. Nationally, occupational fatalities in private sector solid waste collection are consistently higher than those in local government sanitation agencies; 85% of fatalities in the industry occur in the private sector…..

A systematic literature review of the effectiveness of occupational health and safety regulatory enforcement

Source: Emile Tompa, Christina Kalcevich, Michael Foley, Chris McLeod, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Kim Cullen, Ellen MacEachen, Quenby Mahood and Emma Irvin, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, Version of Record online: June 7, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: We aimed to determine the strength of evidence on the effectiveness of legislative and regulatory policy levers in creating incentives for organizations to improve occupational health and safety processes and outcomes.

Methods: A systematic review was undertaken to assess the strength of evidence on the effectiveness of specific policy levers using a “best-evidence” synthesis approach.

Results: A structured literature search identified 11,947 citations from 13 peer-reviewed literature databases. Forty-three studies were retained for synthesis. Strong evidence was identified for three out of nine clusters.

Conclusions: There is strong evidence that several OHS policy levers are effective in terms of reducing injuries and/or increasing compliance with legislation. This study adds to the evidence on OHS regulatory effectiveness from an earlier review. In addition to new evidence supporting previous study findings, it included new categories of evidence–compliance as an outcome, nature of enforcement, awareness campaigns, and smoke-free workplace legislation.

Predictors of Intent to Leave the Job Among Home Health Workers: Analysis of the National Home Health Aide Survey

Source: Robyn Stone, Jess Wilhelm, Christine E. Bishop, Natasha S. Bryant, Linda Hermer, and Marie R. Squillace, The Gerontologist, Advance Access, First published online: April 21, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose: To identify agency policies and workplace characteristics that are associated with intent to leave the job among home health workers employed by certified agencies.

Design and Methods: Data are from the 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey/National Home Health Aide Survey, a nationally representative, linked data set of home health and hospice agencies and their workers. Logistic regression with survey weights was conducted to identify agency and workplace factors associated with intent to leave the job, controlling for worker, agency, and labor market characteristics.

Results: Job satisfaction, consistent patient assignment, and provision of health insurance were associated with lower intent to leave the job. By contrast, being assigned insufficient work hours and on-the-job injuries were associated with greater intent to leave the job after controlling for fixed worker, agency, and labor market characteristics. African American workers and workers with a higher household income also expressed greater intent to leave the job.

Implications: This is the first analysis to use a weighted, nationally representative sample of home health workers linked with agency-level data. The findings suggest that intention to leave the job may be reduced through policies that prevent injuries, improve consistency of client assignment, improve experiences among African American workers, and offer sufficient hours to workers who want them.