Archive for NIOSH

Safety Culture and Health Care

Health care facilities need to foster and promote a strong culture of safety that includes a commitment to worker safety, provision of and adequate access to safety and personal protective equipment, and extensive training efforts that utilize protocols requiring specific safety actions. The American Nurses Association (2016) states that “A culture of safety describes the core values and behaviors that come about when there is collective and continuous commitment by organizational leadership, Read more [...]

Wholesale Recycling: High Rates of Injuries and Illnesses

The U.S. wholesale recycling material industry consists of about 12,700 wholesale companies, providing an estimated 102,038 jobs [Siccode.com 2020]. Unlike recycling services that pick up empty cartons, cans, and bottles curbside from households, wholesale recycling merchants buy automotive scrap, electronic scrap, industrial scrap, or other recycling materials from manufacturers and resell it to businesses, government agencies, other wholesalers, or retailers. Tasks in these facilities include Read more [...]

Improve Sleep: Tips to Improve Your Sleep When Times Are Tough

  Just like food or water, sleep is a biological necessity for life and health. Research shows that the hours we spend sleeping are incredibly important and far from passive. During sleep, your body is busy fighting off viruses and other pathogens, operating a waste removal system to clean the brain, looking for cancer cells and getting rid of them, repairing injured tissues, and forming vital memories that are essential for learning. Getting enough sleep can improve mental health, mood, and Read more [...]

Keeping Momentum in NORA Councils: Different Ways to Achieve Partner Engagement

  The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program, stewarded by NIOSH, to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices for the nation. Currently, there are 17 NORA councils that align with each of the 10 industry sectors and 7 health and safety cross-sectors. Membership in NORA councils is diverse and includes individuals from large and small businesses, worker organizations, academia, professional societies, and other organizations. These stakeholders Read more [...]

Economic Security during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Healthy Work Design and Well-being Perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting worker well-being in many ways, including through decreased economic security. Economic aspects of overall health and well-being, along with physical, psychological, and social aspects, are a fundamental focus of the NIOSH Healthy Work Design and Well-being Program (HWD). The mission of HWD is to protect and advance worker safety, health, and well-being by improving the design of work, management practices, and the physical and psychosocial work environment. Read more [...]

Surgical Smoke Inhalation: Dangerous Consequences for the Surgical Team

In 1996, after conducing multiple health hazard evaluations, NIOSH released a bulletin recommending the control of surgical smoke created during laser or electric surgical procedures. Since the 1990s the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has recommended the evacuation of all surgical smoke. Yet, surgical smoke is still inhaled daily by nurses in the operating room. In a 2016 study, NIOSH surveyed health care personnel who were exposed to surgical smoke.  Their results indicated Read more [...]

Making Industry and Occupation Information Useful for Public Health

This is the second of two blogs in the series “COVID-19 Surveillance among Workers: What we know and what are we doing to learn more”. To learn more about occupation and industry data collection for acute infectious diseases, see the first blog Collecting occupation and industry data in public health surveillance systems for COVID-19. Information about a person’s occupation and industry can be incredibly useful for determining if certain jobs or kinds of businesses put people at Read more [...]

Considerations for Covering N95s to Extend Use

Introduction During times of increased demand for N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), hospitals or other medical facilities may want to protect these devices from surface contamination in order to prolong their use. When protection against surface contamination is needed, CDC recommends wearing a cleanable face shield over an N95 FFR[1]. Wearing a surgical mask or cloth covering over an FFR, such as an N95, is not approved or recommended by NIOSH because it is not consistent with the conditions Read more [...]

Cannabis and Work: Implications, Impairment, and the Need for Further Research

American workplaces are facing unprecedented challenges related to the rapidly evolving landscape of cannabis legalization and its increasing use among workers. Cannabis[1] is the most frequently used illicit drug (by Federal law) among Americans, with an estimated 43.5 million past-year users age 12 or older in 2018 (1). Nearly 18% of adults employed full-time, and nearly 21% of adults employed part-time, reported using cannabis during the previous year. The implications for workplace safety are Read more [...]

COVID-19 Stress Among Your Workers? Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Solutions Are Critical

Experiencing an infectious disease outbreak can cause fear, anxiety, and stress.1-5 Along with overwhelming uncertainty and new behavioral ‘norms’ (e.g., cloth face covering or mask wearing, physical distancing), the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we meet our daily needs, how we socially interact, and whether, how, and where we work.1,3 Millions of workers have lost their jobs.6 Some workers have continued to report to a physical workplace, while others have transitioned to full-time Read more [...]

Collecting Occupation and Industry Data in Public Health Surveillance Systems for COVID-19

This is the first of two blogs in the series “COVID-19 Surveillance among Workers: What we know and what are we doing to learn more”. What we know Though the COVID-19 pandemic continues, critical infrastructure industries are operating and other types of businesses are beginning to reopen. Recent studies have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in several types of workplaces, including long-term care facilities, meatpacking plants, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters. The media Read more [...]

The Physiological Burden of Prolonged PPE Use on Healthcare Workers during Long Shifts

Healthcare workers (HCW) and first responders often work long, physically and mentally exhausting shifts as they provide care for patients, especially during a public health emergency. These long hours can result in fewer adequate breaks for personal care, nutrition, and hydration. During these extended work shifts, many HCWs are also required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) elastomeric half-mask respirators, or powered air-supplied Read more [...]

Heat Stress in Construction

As we post this blog, we realize that some states may be under work restrictions due to COVID-19. Please follow the appropriate guidance for your area. Workers should not share water bottles or cups when hydrating. Social distancing applies in the workplace and break areas. See U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of and Health and Human Services’ booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. As workers are social distancing and wearing a mask, the signs of heat stress may Read more [...]

Nurses’ and Other Health Professionals’ Wellness and Safety Resource Update

The World Health Organization proclaimed 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. None of us could have anticipated how prescient that would be. This year has seen nurses all over the world step up and battle coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) fearlessly, often while navigating evolving guidance and operating under difficult conditions with strained resources. The American Nurses Association (ANA) and ANA Enterprise’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ (HNHN) salute all nurses and recognize Read more [...]

Workers Memorial Day, 2020: NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., Reflects on the State of Worker Safety and Health

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act that established the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as the sole federal agency focused on worker safety and health research. The Act also charged the Secretary of Labor with setting and enforcing workplace safety and health standards, giving birth to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 1970, when the Act became law, the need for worker protection was urgent, with Read more [...]

Work-related Fatigue Reaches Beyond the Workplace

Fatigue has been defined as “the body’s response to sleep loss or to prolonged physical or mental exertion.”1 As such, with increasing periods of insufficient sleep or physical/mental exertion, the more fatigued we become. This fatigue can only be reduced with sufficient rest. However, for workers employed in nonstandard schedules, such as with shift work, early mornings and extended hours, opportunities for sufficient rest and recovery are limited2-4. Shortened or disrupted sleep Read more [...]

Work-Related Low-Back Injury and Increased Rate of Death

Do certain types of work-related disabilities lead to an increased rate of death? This question has not been well studied. Recently published research, “Increased overall and cause‐specific mortality associated with disability among workers’ compensation claimants with low back injuries,” examined the issue. [1]  The study found that those with a lost-time disabling low-back workers’ compensation claim had a higher rate of mortality when compared to those with claims Read more [...]

Understanding the Use of Imported Non-NIOSH-Approved Respirators

When a respirator has been approved by NIOSH, the user can be confident that the device will provide the expected level of protection, as long as it fits properly and is worn correctly. But when serious outbreak conditions cause a shortage of the NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), other reliable options must be found. When possible, NIOSH recommends the use of reusable elastomeric respirators and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) as alternatives to FFRs. However, when Read more [...]

Uso adecuado del respirador N95 para estar preparado para la protección respiratoria

Cuando ocurren brotes de enfermedades infecciosas, dependemos de los profesionales de atención médica para que cuiden a los afectados, lo cual los pone en mayor riesgo de exposición al patógeno causante de la enfermedad. Mientras que los controles técnicos y administrativos deberían ser lo primero que se considere para proteger a estos trabajadores de la exposición, los centros también deberían asegurarse de que los empleados en riesgo Read more [...]

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危機発生時、重症患者の搬入の増加、業務上のストレスの増加、超過勤務の必要性の増加を含め、かつてない困難な業務負荷の中にあっても、医療従事者(例:看護師、専門看護師、医師、准看護師)は医療行為を継続します。こういった業務負荷は既に厳しい勤務環境(すなわち、12時間シフト、夜勤)と合わさり、しっかりと回復するためのシフト中の通常の休憩時間やシフト間の休日など、十分な休憩・休日の確保を難しくしています。これらの業務上の因子のすべて(すなわち、身体的、心理的、および/または精神的負荷)が睡眠不足と重なることで疲労に繋がります1-3。 Read more [...]

Controlar a fadiga em momentos de crise: Orientação para enfermeiros, gerentes e outros funcionários de serviços de saúde

Em momentos de crise, funcionários de saúde (por exemplo, enfermeiros, enfermeiros licenciados em clínica geral, médicos, assistentes de enfermagem etc.) continuam a oferecer atendimento, mesmo com demandas desafiadoras de trabalho, incluindo maior internação de pacientes gravemente doentes, aumento do estresse no trabalho e uma necessidade frequente de horas extras. Essas demandas de trabalho podem compor horários de trabalho que já são Read more [...]

NIOSH Ventilated Headboard Provides Solution to Patient Isolation During an Epidemic

To protect healthcare workers, other patients, and visitors from exposure to airborne infectious diseases, patients in hospital settings sometimes need to be placed in airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs). AIIRs contain specific engineered features to isolate and more-quickly remove potentially infectious patient aerosols so that they do not infect others. Isolation rooms are expensive, costing about $30,000 more to construct than a typical patient room. As a result, not all facilities have Read more [...]

Summary of Recommendations from the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program from 2006—2014

Since 1998, NIOSH has conducted independent investigations of firefighter line-of-duty deaths and recommended ways to prevent deaths and injuries through the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP). A recent article, “Summary of recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, 2006–2014” provides information on recent FFFIPP recommendations. The article also examines Read more [...]

Respiratory Protection During Outbreaks: Respirators versus Surgical Masks

Consistent use of respirators improves protection against respiratory illness Consistent use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important part of the strategy to protect healthcare professionals from inhaling infectious particles, preventing the spread of respiratory infection between healthcare professionals and patients. Two types of devices are most commonly used in the healthcare setting: N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and surgical masks (commonly called facemasks). In consideration Read more [...]

NIOSH Encourages Worker Well-Being Research

NIOSH continues to seek new ways to promote worker well-being research through programs and new initiatives, including the Total Worker Health® and Healthy Work Design and Well-being cross-sector programs. Total Worker Health (TWH) is a holistic approach to worker well-being. By acknowledging work-related risk factors that can impact health, the TWH approach seeks to improve the well-being of the American workforce, protecting safety and enhancing health and productivity. The newest NIOSH cross-sector Read more [...]

Managing Fatigue During Times of Crisis: Guidance for Nurses, Managers, and Other Healthcare Workers

At times of crisis, healthcare workers (e.g., nurses, advanced practice nurses, physicians, nursing assistants, etc.) continue to provide care, despite ever challenging work demands, including higher influx of critically ill patients, increased work stress, and a frequent need for overtime. These work demands can compound already challenging work schedules (i.e. 12-hour shifts, night shifts), making it more difficult to obtain regular shift breaks and enough time off between shifts for adequate recovery. Read more [...]

The Need for Fit Testing During Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Proper respirator use is essential for healthcare workers who are expected to interact with patients with infectious respiratory diseases. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires healthcare facilities to maintain a respiratory protection program that specifies requirements such as annual fit testing, medical clearance, and training. Initial fit testing is required before using a respirator. In addition to annual fit testing, fit testing is required when there are changes Read more [...]

‘Take-Home’ Exposures Still Persist

Occupational health has evolved into a largely technical field dedicated to identifying and eliminating the physical, chemical, and biologic hazards found at the workplace (Peckham et al, 2017). Central to this approach has been the distinction between work-related and non-work-related exposures, injuries, and illnesses which has become a line of demarcation between occupational safety and health and other disciplines within public health (Flynn 2018; Flynn and Wickramage 2017). However, there is Read more [...]

Proper N95 Respirator Use for Respiratory Protection Preparedness

When outbreaks of infectious disease occur, we rely on healthcare professionals to care for those affected, putting themselves at increased risk of exposure to the pathogen causing the disease. While engineering and administrative controls should be the first considerations to protect these workers from this exposure, facilities should also ensure that at-risk employees are prepared to use respiratory protection, among other personal protective equipment, should the need arise. To aid healthcare Read more [...]

Artificial Intelligence Crowdsourcing Competition for Injury Surveillance

In 2018, NIOSH, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contracted the National Academies of Science (NAS) to conduct a consensus study on improving the cost-effectiveness and coordination of occupational safety and health (OSH) surveillance systems. NAS’s report recommended that the federal government use recent advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the processing of data in OSH surveillance Read more [...]

Year of the Nurse

The World Health Organization has designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Nurses play a critical role in our healthcare system and in the lives of the  patients they care for. The very act of caring for and serving others can place nurses at risk for many workplaces injuries and illnesses including those related to: lifting and repetitive tasks, long hours, changing shifts, violence, stress, falls due to slippery or uneven walking surfaces, and exposure to infectious diseases Read more [...]

Are There Nano- and Microplastics in the Workplace?

The growing problem of plastic pollution in the environment is receiving an increasing amount of attention (see article in Nature). Small particles of plastics are often referred to as microplastics (plastic particles smaller than 5 mm [1]) and nanoplastics (the nanoscale fraction of plastic particles). Nano- and microplastic particles (NMPPs) can be formed through environmental and mechanical degradation (the top-down mechanism). They can be also generated through condensation of molecular species, Read more [...]

Made for Each Other – a Valentine’s Day Note about Approved Respirator Configurations

It’s Valentine’s day, which means that NIOSH has some relationship advice for you … and your respirator. Have you ever become infatuated with thinking about your compatibility in a relationship – inspecting and examining every detail? Yeah. We do that too. In fact, NIOSH evaluates every respirator assembly configuration to determine that the performance requirements are met to ensure reliability. Much like when you bring your new “special someone” home to meet Read more [...]

World Cancer Day 2020 – Reflecting on a Decade of NIOSH Cancer Research

February 4th, 2020 is World Cancer Day, and we are reflecting on the role of the occupational cancer research being done at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in reducing the burden of cancer worldwide. Cancer develops as a result of the body losing its ability to control the growth and spread of abnormal cells. Globally, cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death accounting for 9.6 million deaths in 2018 (IARC 2020). There are 17 million people diagnosed with cancer Read more [...]

Drug Overdose in the Workplace and the Role of Opioids

The drug overdose epidemic continues to afflict our country. Nationally, there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 [i] involving opioids (such as fentanyl, heroin and hydrocodone), stimulants (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and alcohol.[ii] Nearly 70% of these deaths involved an opioid.[ii] Recent data show that drug overdoses at work are increasing. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics national data identified Read more [...]

The Burden of Work-Related Asthma

Over 300 workplace substances have been identified to cause new-onset asthma and the list continues to grow 1, 2. Other substances can aggravate pre-existing asthma, causing increased illness and medication requirements. Work-related asthma (WRA) comprises both new-onset and work-aggravated asthma3. An estimated 15-55% of all adult asthma is related to work4-7. Since 1988, Michigan has received funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for the development and Read more [...]

U.S. Surgeon General Highlights the Value of Worker Well-Being and the NIOSH Total Worker Health® Approach

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral (VADM) Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, recognizes the important relationship between employment and health. The article, “The Value of Worker Well-being,” also highlights the efforts of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the NIOSH Office of Total Worker Health®, the NIOSH-funded Total Worker Health (TWH) Centers of Excellence, and NIOSH TWH affiliates. The U.S. Surgeon General Read more [...]

2019 in Review

  January is often a time for reflection and review.  We are doing the same with NIOSH social media.  If you missed any NIOSH tweets, blogs, Facebook or Instagram posts, or other electronic media over the past year we have made it easy for you to catch up!  If you don’t follow any of these channels, make it your 2020 resolution to stay up-to-date on the latest information from NIOSH. Below we present the most popular NIOSH products and Read more [...]

Injury Among Temporary and Permanent Workers in Ohio

There are an estimated 1.4 million temporary help agency workers in the US.[i] However, to date, there has been limited research comparing injury rates of temporary and permanent workers. NIOSH recently published “Comparative analyses of workers’ compensation claims of injury among temporary and permanent employed workers in Ohio” in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The study analyzed over 1.3 million workers’ compensation (WC) claims in Ohio from 2001-2013 (including Read more [...]

Industrial Exoskeletons

Exoskeletons used in the workplace are referred to as “industrial exoskeletons.” Their purpose is to augment, amplify, or reinforce the performance of a worker’s existing body components—primarily the lower back and the upper extremity (arms and shoulders). Despite a lack of research, manufacturers of these devices claim productivity gains, work quality improvements, and a reduction of the risk of work‐related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). A new commentary from Read more [...]