Archive for NIOSH

Wearable Technologies for Improved Safety and Health on Construction Sites

Background Wearable technologies are an increasingly popular consumer electronic for a variety of applications at home and at work. In general, these devices include accessories and clothing that incorporate advanced electronic technologies, often with smartphone or ‘internet of things’ (IoT) connectivity. While wearables are increasingly being used to improve health and well-being by aiding in personal fitness, innovative applications for monitoring occupational safety and health risk Read more [...]

Preparing Your Fleet for Automated Vehicles

Many of us already drive personal or company vehicles with automated features such as lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. While automation clearly improves safety, it also presents new issues for safety professionals. Companies need to integrate policies on vehicles with automated features into their current fleet safety management systems. They also need to consider how they’ll manage the more highly-automated vehicles that will be available in the future. To help safety Read more [...]

Partnering to Educate English-Language Learners in Alaska on Worker Safety and Health

When you think of diversity in the United States, does Alaska come to mind? In fact, Anchorage, Alaska has some of the most ethno-racially diverse neighborhoods and public schools in the entire U.S. This diversity includes nearly one in ten Anchorage residents identifying as foreign born (Farrell, 2018). In terms of languages spoken in the city, the Anchorage School District has identified over 100 languages that are spoken either by its English-language learners as their first language, or by these Read more [...]

Can Pregnant Workers Receive and Administer Flu Vaccines? Yes!

Every flu season, NIOSH gets questions from pregnant workers about the flu and flu vaccines. Here are the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions, including getting the flu shot at work and administering flu shots to patients.   Can I get a flu shot if I’m pregnant? Yes. CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season get the flu shot.1,2The flu shot can be given at any time during Read more [...]

Outbreak of Silicosis among Engineered Stone Countertop Workers in Four States

Engineered stone countertops, also known as “quartz surfacing,” are made from quartz aggregate held together with a resin binder. These materials are similar in appearance to natural stone and have become increasingly popular for use in home building and home improvement. Quartz surface imports to the United States have increased approximately 800% during 2010–2018 (U.S. International Trade Commission). Engineered stone materials may contain substantially more crystalline silica Read more [...]

Occupational Exposure Banding and Workplace Chemicals

For workers in a variety of industries, exposure to chemicals is commonplace. American workers handle, transport, or encounter thousands of chemicals every day, from cleaning products to industrial solvents. Although many of these chemicals have important uses, they can also be harmful to workers who are exposed to them. Occupational exposure limits (OELs) are developed for hazardous chemicals to reduce the risk of adverse health effects for workers with potential exposures. Unfortunately, of the Read more [...]

The Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT) for Construction

Organizational safety climate is defined as shared perceptions among employees regarding what is rewarded, expected, valued, and reinforced in the workplace with respect to safety (Zohar, 1980). It can positively influence employee safety knowledge, motivation, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as reduce injury outcomes (e.g., Clarke, 2010, Probst et al., 2008, Probst and Estrada, 2010, Zohar, 2010). Research reported in the Journal of Safety Research shows that the Safety Climate Assessment Tool Read more [...]

It’s National Bosses Day. Who is your dream boss?

Having a “dream job” is an aspiration for many people, but without a good boss, a dream job can become a nightmare. Our front-line supervisor or manager plays an unparalleled role in creating and sustaining safe work environments, health supportive-policies, and psychosocial safety. The best bosses partner with workers to design healthy jobs that provide meaning and social support and are rewarding –in all senses. A great leader can positively impact our health, quality of life, Read more [...]

Nanotechnology Research at NIOSH

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are materials that are intentionally produced to have at least one primary dimension less than 100 nanometers. These materials have new or unique properties different from those of larger forms of the same material, making them desirable for specific product applications. These properties can contribute to increased elasticity, tensile strength, electrical conduction, and reactivity. Consumer products using nanomaterials include makeup, Read more [...]

NIOSH Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum: A Recap and Future Directions

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has had a longstanding interest in nonstandard work hours and associated health and safety effects. The last NIOSH meeting on this topic was held in 2004 and centered around long working hours and the impact on injuries, illnesses, and health behaviors. To build on this expertise, the NIOSH Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum: Meeting the needs of American Workers and Employers was recently hosted by the Healthy Work Design Program’s Read more [...]

Older Wholesale and Retail Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements

National Employ Older Workers Week takes place the final week in September and recognizes the vital role of older workers [U.S. DOL 2019]. By 2020, workers aged 55 and over will likely make up about 25 percent of the U.S. workforce [BLS 2018]. Within the Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) Sector alone, in 2017 almost 4.5 million workers (more than 22 percent) are over age 55, up from 3.8 million workers in 2011 [BLS 2018]. There are many advantages to hiring older workers. In general, they have more Read more [...]

Small Business International Travel: NIOSH Has You Covered

Your company just landed a business deal overseas. It’s an exciting opportunity for the company and for your employees. But you are a small company with limited resources. What are the next steps for international business travel? Travel visas, vaccinations, import restrictions. How do you ensure your employees’ safe and healthy travel? NIOSH to the rescue. Many small businesses lack dedicated travel and human resource staff to plan such trips. This puts more responsibility for safe and Read more [...]

Reducing Fatigue and Stress in the Retail Industry: Workplace solutions

Workplace fatigue and stress is a growing topic for worker safety and health research. For instance, workplace studies have shown that the nature of retail industry work may cause fatigue and stress. Nonstandard work schedules such as irregular and extended shifts, long periods of standing, and reduced staffing are a few reasons for health issues related to job fatigue and stress [Anderson and Chun 2014; Greenhouse 2015; ACOEM 2012; Katz and Krueger 2016; NIOSH 2019]. Surveys and studies have shown Read more [...]

Statement by Dr. John Howard on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance

The passage of time does not make the memories of 18 years ago any less vivid. As I take a moment on this National Day of Service and Remembrance to reflect on the events of September 11th, 2001, and the tragic loss of life on that day, I am also thinking of those people we are still losing to 9/11’s aftermath. The exposures at the World Trade Center in New York City, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site have caused a wide variety of health conditions. Read more [...]

¿Reduce el calzado antideslizante los resbalones, tropezones y caídas en entornos de servicios alimentarios?

Los resbalones, tropezones y caídas son el segundo tipo de causa más común de las lesiones mortales relacionadas con el trabajo y el tercer tipo de causa más común de las lesiones no mortales relacionadas con el trabajo en los Estados Unidos (1, 2). Aunque las caídas desde alturas tienen más probabilidades de causar la muerte, las caídas en el mismo nivel (que a menudo comienzan como un resbalón o tropezón) ocurren con más Read more [...]

Effectiveness of New Guidelines to Prevent Workplace Hand-Wrist MSDs

Research confirms that new guidelines to prevent worker hand, wrist, and elbow musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) better protect workers. MSDs can be debilitating and costly workplace safety and health issues. In Washington state alone, direct costs for hand, wrist, and elbow MSD workers’ compensation claims accounted for over $2 billion and 11.8 million lost work days from 1999-2013.[1] Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the more costly diagnoses and accounted for about half of those costs Read more [...]

Suicide Risk for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians

A new study, “Suicides and deaths of undetermined intent among veterinary professionals from 2003 through 2014” sheds new light on the issue of suicide among veterinary professions. It is known that veterinarians in the United States and abroad have a higher suicide risk compared with the general population.[1-8] This new study confirms the increased rated of suicide with stronger statistical methods and introduces new data. Prior to this study, there have only been three studies Read more [...]

NIOSH Launches Respiratory Protection Week in Celebration of 100 Years of Respiratory Protection

September is here, and we NIOSH employees have put away our Labor Day picnics to get back to the work of protecting the American labor force…. And, of course, celebrating N95 Day! Right? Yes and no. You see, this year is special. This year marks an important anniversary in the history of respiratory protection. One century ago, the U.S. Bureau of Mines initiated the first respirator certification program in the United States. Today, the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Read more [...]

Labor Day 2019 Message: Future of Work and Total Worker Health

At NIOSH, we spend every day focused on improving the safety and health of the U.S. workforce who maintain and propel this country forward. This year’s 125th anniversary of Labor Day gives us the opportunity as a Nation to celebrate and appreciate all workers for their contribution to this country’s prosperity, strength and well-being. This September also marks the recognition of 100 Years of Respiratory Protection, by celebrating the first annual Respiratory Protection Week. Respirators Read more [...]

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work

What does Artificial Intelligence (AI) have to do with workplace safety and health? NIOSH has been at the forefront of workplace safety and robotics, creating the Center for Occupational Robotics Research (CORR) and posting blogs such as A Robot May Not Injure a Worker: Working safely with robots. However, much remains unknown regarding the related field of AI, specifically the application of AI at work. AI is a broad transdisciplinary field with roots in logic, statistics, cognitive psychology, Read more [...]

Serpientes venenosas: un peligro olvidado para quienes trabajan al aire libre

Las personas que trabajan al aire libre pueden afrontar varios peligros. Uno de estos peligros, frecuentemente inesperados, son las mordeduras de serpiente. Se pueden encontrar serpientes venenosas en lugares de trabajo en todos los Estados Unidos. Las áreas geográficas del país donde las personas que trabajan al aire libre tienen más probabilidades de encontrarse con una serpiente venenosa son las del sur, el sudoeste y el oeste. Entre el 2008 y el 2015, la mayor cantidad Read more [...]

Injured Workers More Likely to Die from Suicide or Opioid Overdose

Drug overdoses and suicides have been rising since 2000 and are major contributors to a recent decline in US life expectancy. The opioid crisis is largely to blame, with a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017.[1] Suicide rates in 2016 have increased 30% from 1999.[2] Case and Deaton have called these “deaths of despair.”[3] In the study, “Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury,” published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: Camp Counselor Illness

After a week of working at an outdoor day camp as a counselor, Daniel began to feel sick with a cough, headache, and a fever. Several other counselors experienced similar symptoms requiring them to miss work. Read the medical mystery here. The camp owners recognized they had a problem and called in the county health department for assistance. At their initial visit, the investigators observed what appeared to be bat droppings (guano) on picnic tables and on the dirt floor of the shelters. Read more [...]

FACE Investigations Make Recommendations to Improve the Safety of New Types of Robots

U.S. companies are installing robots in record numbers (1). These include traditional industrial robots separated from human workers by cages and cells, as well as emerging robotics technologies that include robots designed to work alongside and in the same space as human workers. From a health and safety perspective, the proliferation of robotics technologies across various industries can be viewed as both positive and potentially concerning. While new technologies may be used to remove a worker Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery: Camp Counselor Illness

Daniel was excited to have his first summer job working at a day camp in Iowa. He was happy to be working outside and with his friends. He and several other teenage counselors reported to work a week before camp started to get the facilities ready for the campers. The clean-up duties included raking leaves and giving the picnic tables, which had a season’s worth of accumulation, a good scrubbing with a mild disinfectant. They also dug fire pits, swept the dirt floor shelters, removed a few Read more [...]

Using Worker Absenteeism to Track the Flu

Is flu on the rise among workers? Those working in public health track the number of flu-related hospital and doctor visits, but many people suffer symptoms and don’t seek medical treatment. So, how do we know how many people are sick with the flu during a flu pandemic or a seasonal epidemic? Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a mathematical model to estimate the total number of flu illnesses in the United States, but this is not done until the end of the flu Read more [...]

Does Slip-Resistant Footwear Reduce Slips, Trips, and Falls in Food Service?

Slips, trips, and falls are the second most common type of fatal work-related injuries and the third most common type of non-fatal work-related injuries in the United States (1, 2). Although falls from heights are more likely to result in a fatality, falls on the same level (which often start as a slip or trip) occur more frequently and can cause injury. Recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that 50% of all same-level falls resulted in more than 10 days away from work (1, 2, 3). Sprains, Read more [...]

Venomous Snakes: A Neglected Hazard for Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers can experience a number of hazards. One often unexpected hazard is a venomous snakebite. Venomous snakes may be encountered in workplaces throughout the United States. The most likely geographic locations where outdoor workers would encounter venomous snakes is in the American South, Southwest, and West. From 2008-2015, the greatest number of deaths from venomous snakebites occurred in the southern and mid-western United States [Forrester et al., 2018]. The number of venomous snakebites Read more [...]

Low Back Pain among Workers: The Problem and What to Do About It

Are you a worker who is experiencing low back pain?  You aren’t alone! A recently published article from NIOSH reports that more than 1 in 4 (26%) working adults experience low back pain. Some groups of workers have more pain than others. For example, workers in construction occupations are more likely to experience low back pain than those in other occupations. And, workers 45-64 years old have more pain than younger workers. The findings, laid out in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Read more [...]

Law Enforcement Officers’ Health Effects from Exposure to Opioids: Two Case Investigations

There is uncertainty surrounding law enforcement officers’ exposure to and health effects from opioids encountered while at work protecting the public. Over the past several years, the media have reported instances of opioid exposures and health effects among first responders and other public service workers across the U.S.[i],[ii],[iii],[iv] These reports provide incomplete or uncorroborated information about incidents involving work‐related exposures to drugs among responders. An article Read more [...]

Preventing Trenching Fatalities

Construction workers are at risk of death or serious injury if they enter an unprotected trench and the walls col­lapse. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet or 4.5 meters [OSHA]. Hazards associated with trench work and excavation are well defined and preventable. From June 17-21, 2019, the National Utility Contractor Association (NUCA), the North American Excavation Shoring Association (NAXSA), the Trench Shoring Read more [...]

Celebrate National Safety Month

We all face risks throughout our lives. The fact is, unintentional injuries have been increasing for decades and are now the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. To reverse this trend, we all need to take simple steps to help keep each other safe. Safety should be practiced all year round, but June is a special time when we come together annually to spread the word about preventing injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities.  The focus areas for this year’s Read more [...]

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

The opioid overdose epidemic continues to claim lives across the country with a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017[i]. The crisis is taking an especially devastating toll on certain parts of the U.S. workforce. High rates of opioid overdose deaths have occurred in industries with high injury rates and physically demanding working conditions such as construction, mining, or fishing[ii],[iii]. Other job factors such as high job demands, job insecurity, and lack of control over tasks have also been Read more [...]

Extramural Spotlight: Airline Pilot Mental Health

In March 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 people onboard. An investigation found that the copilot deliberately steered the plane into the mountainside. It also revealed that he had a history of depression. Among workers, untreated depression can affect the ability to perform tasks and—as the Germanwings incident shows—in rare instances, can result in devastating consequences. In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers at the NIOSH-funded Read more [...]

A Storm of Summer Perils: The Battle for Healthy Outdoor Workers Is No Game

  In HBO’s Game of Thrones, the “House Stark” clan often loudly proclaim that “winter is coming.” Here at House NIOSH, we remind our safety and health professionals, employers, and workers that, THE DAYS ARE LONG AND FULL OF HAZARDS. When facing the opening salvos of the Battle for Healthy Outdoor Workers, be sure to know your friends and foes. Each of the Houses below can help your workers stay safe in dangerous times, or can betray workers with hidden dangers Read more [...]

Right Sensors Used Right: A Life-cycle Approach for Real-time Monitors and Direct Reading Methodologies and Data. A Call to Action for Customers, Creators, Curators, and Analysts.

The Right Sensors Used Right Approach Right Sensors Used Right is an approach of the NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies. The objective is to promote the competent development, adoption, and interpretation of real-time monitors and direct-reading methodologies. It also aims to improve the interpretation of the data for taking action in work environments. Encouraging involved individuals to consider the capabilities and limitations of a technology can improve the ability to address Read more [...]

Farm Dinner Theater

It is not new news that agriculture has excessive worker injury rates. Nor that senior farmers and adult farmers in the South experience some of the highest occupational injury and mortality in the nation. There were an estimated 58,385 work-related adult farm injuries (more than six every hour) in 2014. In 2016, 417 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury. Reaching farmers with safety and health information can be challenging. Farmers are seldom in the same place; they are Read more [...]

Burden, Need and Impact: An Evidence-Based Method to Identify Worker Safety and Health Research Priorities

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), like all federal agencies, must ensure a thoughtful investment of public funds in fulfilling its statutory mandate. As public funding for science research programs becomes more constrained, and the demand for increased accountability of government spending grows, the need to demonstrate the impact or return on taxpayers’ investment becomes a necessity for research agencies. NIOSH has developed an evidence-based method that uses Read more [...]

Small Business Week: Take time to Celebrate!

During Small Business Week, May 5-11, we celebrate entrepreneurs across the country for their willingness to take a risk and follow a dream. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, we have plenty to celebrate: more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.1 Like all businesses, small businesses face occupational safety and health challenges, no matter the industry. But several studies show Read more [...]

The Secret Identity of OSH

Fans of the comic book hero team The Avengers continue to break box office records with the movie Endgame. Let’s take a light-hearted moment to imagine the role occupational safety and health could play in some of our favorite fictional heroes’ origin stories and their secret identities. A large number of these characters’ heroic paths started with careless incidents that would most likely prove fatal to us mere mortals and not grant special green bulletproof skin or spider-like Read more [...]