Category Archives: Health & Safety

Health care versus non-health care businesses’ experiences during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic: Financial impact, vaccination policies, and control measures implemented

Source: Terri Rebmann, Jing Wang, Zachary Swick, David Reddick, Corina Minden-Birkenmaier, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 31 January 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Only limited data are available on businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in terms of interventions implemented, staffing shortages, employees working while ill, and H1N1 vaccination policy. A questionnaire was administered to human resource professionals during May-July 2011 to assess US businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 pandemic. …In all, 471 human resource professionals participated. Most did not work while ill. Twelve percent reported staffing shortages, 2.1% needed to hire temporary staff, and fewer than 1% reduced workload or closed during the pandemic. From logistic and linear regressions, determinants of providing employees H1N1 influenza training, respiratory hygiene education, offering H1N1 vaccine to employees, and higher infection prevention intervention scores were size of the business (with larger businesses implementing more interventions, such as providing education and vaccine, than smaller businesses) and being a health care agency…. Businesses should continue to improve business continuity and pandemic plans to prepare for the next biologic event (ie, pandemic, bioterrorism attack, or emerging infectious disease outbreak)….
Business continuity and pandemic preparedness: US health care versus non-health care agencies
Source: Terri Rebmann, Jing Wang, Zachary Swick, David Reddick, Corina Minden-Birkenmaier, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 21 January 2013
(subscription required)

Businesses Can Avoid the High Cost of Workplace Injuries by Offering Earned Sick Days

Source: Liz Ben-Ishai, Center for Law and Social Policy, January 2013

Add one more piece of evidence to the increasingly-difficult-to-ignore body of facts that suggests earned sick days – particularly for lower-wage workers – are crucial to our country’s economic success and families’ economic security. A new study by health economist J. Paul Leigh shows that the economic cost of workplace injuries among low-wage workers amounted to more than $39 billion in 2010. The high cost of workplace injuries among low-wage workers is particularly striking in light of recent research demonstrating that there is a significant correlation between lack of paid sick leave and the incidence of nonfatal occupational injuries. A study by Abay Asfaw and colleagues, released earlier this year, showed that workers with paid sick leave were 28 percent less likely than those without leave to be injured. Given that 80 percent of workers making very low wages have no access to paid sick leave, the need to heed these findings on workplace injuries and sick leave is urgent.
Numbers and Costs of Occupational Injury and Illness in Low-Wage Occupations
Source: J. Paul Leigh, Center for Poverty Research, and Center for Health Care Policy and Research, University of California Davis, December 2012

Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries
Source: Abay Asfaw, Regina Pana-Cryan, and Roger Rosa, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102 No. 9, September 2012
(subscription required)

Healthcare Facility Public Safety-Related Deaths Reached All-Time High in 2012

Source: Campus Safety Magazine, January 28, 2013

….According to Dr. Victoria Mikow-Porto, the principal researcher and writer on the recently-released 2012 Crime and Security Trends Survey underwritten by the Foundation of the IAHSS, healthcare facility crime increased in nearly every category since the most recent survey in 2010, with a significant rise in the number of simple assaults, larceny and thefts, vandalism, and rape and sexual assaults. It’s also the highest number of crimes ever recorded in the history of the IAHSS Crime Survey, with 20,515 crimes reported: an increase of 5,524 compared to 2010.

Additionally, 98% of healthcare facilities now experience violence and criminal incidents. Porto attributes the surge to a number of factors, among them:
-Greater access to weapons, particularly guns
-Generally 24/7, open access to an expanding number of large and small healthcare complexes
-long, frustrating waits in emergency rooms
-Increased size and violence of gangs, and carry over of gang warfare into HCFs
-Deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients who are unable or unwilling to take meds
-Increasing treatment of forensics patients who are at high risk for violence
-Rise in substance abuse and easily-accessed hospital pharmacies

An Incentive-Based Approach to Regulating Workplace Chemicals

Source: Jason R. Bent, Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 73 no. 6, 2013

From the abstract:
The United States’ system for regulating employee exposures to hazardous chemicals is broken. Absent regulation, the labor market fails to produce efficient levels of precaution against chemical exposures. Information asymmetries, long disease latency periods, and other characteristics of chemical exposures thwart the market’s ability to produce efficient risk/wage tradeoffs. These same characteristics permit employers and chemical manufacturers to externalize the costs of injuries caused by chemical exposures. The current U.S. regulatory system, including a combination of OSHA regulations and state workers’ compensation programs, is not correcting the labor market’s failure. The result is a level of workplace chemical exposure risk that is systematically too high, and a level of precaution that is systematically too low.

The reforms proposed in the literature to date do not harness the financial incentives of the least-cost information providers and least-cost risk avoiders: chemical manufacturers and employers. This Article takes the search for a solution in a new direction by using state workers’ compensation laws to capitalize on the incentives of chemical manufacturers and employers. The Article argues that state workers’ compensation laws should be amended in two ways: (1) shift the default burden of proof on causation to the respondents, but only in cases where there is no applicable OSHA exposure limit, and (2) allow employers to include chemical manufacturers as respondents in workers’ compensation proceedings for purposes of apportioning liability. These amendments could be implemented by convening a new National Commission on State Workers’ Compensation Laws. The result would be a new push for OSHA chemical exposure limits by chemical manufacturers and employers – the entities in the best position to provide the toxicity and precaution information necessary to support OSHA regulations.

Investigation of the Effects of Split Sleep Schedules on Commercial Vehicle Driver Safety and Health

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), December 2012

As part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated “Investigation into Motor Carrier Practices to Achieve Optimal Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Performance” Indefinite Date/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Research and Technology Program, a laboratory study was conducted between February 2010 and April 2011 to examine the effect of split sleep versus consolidated sleep on human performance and long-term health-related parameters. This technical report presents the design, methods, research findings, and conclusions of this study.

The study compares the effects of consolidated nighttime sleep, split sleep, and consolidated daytime sleep on total sleep time, performance, participant subjective state, and biomedical parameters. It appears that if consolidated nighttime sleep is not possible, then split sleep is preferable to consolidated daytime sleep. This conclusion is based on the findings of relatively less total sleep time and greater subjective sleepiness in the daytime sleep condition compared to the split sleep and consolidated nighttime sleep conditions. Performance was equivalent across all three of the sleep conditions in the present study. Further, there were some changes in biomedical parameters associated with the different sleep conditions…
See also:
Research Brief

A Report on Assaults, Disturbances, Violence, and Prosecution in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction: January 1, 2007 through September 30, 2012

Source: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, 2013

From the OCSEA press release:
A study showing major increases in staff assault rates at the state prisons confirms what leaders of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association have been saying for months: that violence in Ohio prisons has escalated. The new report, which was conducted by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and required under House Bill 86, indicates their own findings are “disturbing” and further states, “Assaults on staff resulting in serious injury to one or more staff members is a significant problem at the present time….” Despite the DR&C’s analysis last year that prisons were getting safer and less violent, this report indicates just the opposite to be true. According to the study, in 2008, assaults on staff that resulted in serious injury doubled. After a slight decrease in 2009, that number went up another 25 percent in 2010, and then held steady in 2011 and in 2012. Even the researchers had to admit that assault-rate figures for these last three years are, “The greatest current problem in the prison system.”…

Smokers Need Not Apply: Hiring Bans in the Public Sector

Source: Heather Kerrigan, Governing, Public Workforce newsletter, January 16, 2013

…Virginia is one of about 29 states plus the District of Columbia with laws preventing “lifestyle discrimination” in the workplace, while the other 21 other states have free reign to explore their options when it comes to cutting health-care costs. … Banning certain subsets of people from employment isn’t a new concept … but the growing number of employment bans on smokers has raised questions about whether the practice is discriminatory. The answer is two-fold: Federal law specifies the factors that employers aren’t allowed to use to refuse hiring someone — such as age, race, disability and gender — and smokers aren’t considered a protected class. On the other hand, there are the 29 states plus the District of Columbia that ban lifestyle discrimination, but some of these laws allow hiring bans on smokers for certain jobs like those in the public safety and nonprofit industries. …

For Safe Food System, Workers Need Earned Sick Days

Source: Liz Ben-Ishai, Center for Law and Social Policy, January 7, 2013

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed two broad new food safety rules – marking the first major food safety rulemaking since the 1930s. These rules came about because of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed more than two years ago. Since the passage of the law, consumer advocates have pressured the government to move forward with the rulemaking process, to little avail. While powerful interests and politics held up the process, the human and economic costs of food-borne illness accumulated. One in six Americans becomes sick from contaminated food each year, which adds up to 48 million cases of food-borne disease annually.

These rules are a major step forward for consumer safety. However, policy makers should take note that a major gap in labor protections for workers who handle our food continues to imperil the safety of our food system: most farmworkers and restaurant workers, as well as other food chain workers, receive no earned sick days, which means many are forced to come to work when sick. This lack of protections is not only unfair to workers, but also 1) dangerous for consumers, who risk infection and illness when they eat food handled by sick workers, 2) bad for businesses, and 3) harmful to the U.S. economy….

Association Between World Trade Center Exposure and Excess Cancer Risk

Source: Jiehui Li, James E. Cone, Amy R. Kahn, Robert M. Brackbill, Mark R. Farfel, Carolyn M. Greene, James L. Hadler, Leslie T. Stayner, Steven D. Stellman, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 308, No. 23, December 19, 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, resulted in the release of known and suspected carcinogens into the environment. There is public concern that exposures may have resulted in increased cancers…. Among persons enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry, there was an excess risk for prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, and myeloma in 2007-2008 compared with that for New York State residents; however, these findings were based on a small number of events and multiple comparisons. No significant associations were observed with intensity of World Trade Center exposures. Longer follow-up for typically long-latency cancers and attention to specific cancer sites are needed….

Fear is a Disease: The Impact of Fear and Exposure to Infectious Disease on Correctional Officer Job Stress and Satisfaction

Source: Deborah J. Hartley, Mario A. Davila, James W. Marquart, Janet L. Mullings, Journal American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examined individual and work-level factors that impact job stress and satisfaction for correctional officers. Existing research has explored officer job stress and satisfaction, but very few studies have focused specifically on fear of contracting an infectious disease while at work (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis), and the impact fear of and exposure to infectious disease have on correctional officer job stress and satisfaction. Random sample data were collected from 2,999 male and female officers from across the state of Texas to assess job stress, satisfaction, personal safety, and exposure to infectious disease. Ordinary Least Squares analyses indicated that fear of disease was positively correlated with job stress, and inversely correlated with job satisfaction. Exposure to disease however, failed to yield any significant effects on job stress or satisfaction. Officers who felt that their supervisors were supportive of them on the job reported less stress and higher satisfaction levels, while perceived dangerousness of the job was positively correlated with job stress. These findings highlight the importance of supervisory support as well as continuous, in-depth education and training on infectious diseases for officers.