Archive for NIOSH

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 [...]

AI and Workers’ Comp

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine just awarded the article “Applying Machine Learning to Workers’ Compensation Data to Identify Industry-Specific Ergonomic and Safety Prevention Priorities, Ohio, 2001 to 2011” with an Adolph G. Kammer Merit in Authorship Award for the best article published in their journal last year. The article details how researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning methods to successfully auto-code over 1 million workers Read more [...]

Workers’ Memorial Day, 2019: Statement by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed annually on April 28, recognizes workers who were injured, became ill, or died because of exposures to hazards at work. In 2017, work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,147 U.S. workers according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This represents less than a 1% decrease in the fatality rate from the previous year. We can do better. Together, the occupational safety and health community—including government, labor, academia, Read more [...]

Workplace Accidents, Occupational Illness and the Long Road to Workers’ Compensation and Safety Policies around the World

Workers’ Memorial Day1 takes place annually around the world on April 28 as an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. This day also commemorates the enactment of the United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, put into effect on April 28, 1971. The Act sought to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for every working man and woman in the country. To this end, it established the National Institute Read more [...]

Keeping Teens Safe and Healthy at Work: It Takes Teamwork!

For U.S. teens, a summer job is a rite of passage. Research demonstrates that these experiences, whether lifeguarding, working in a restaurant or the local ice cream shop, mowing lawns, or working in the family business, have many benefits.[1] These include helping teens gain independence, valuable job and life skills, and experiences that bridge the transition to adulthood. Despite these benefits, work can also have serious risks. Approximately every 5 minutes a teen aged 15-19 is injured at Read more [...]

The Power of Crowdsourcing Knowledge Through Wikipedia – The Wiki4WorldHearingDay2019 Experience

No matter the country, it can take years for those who suffer from hearing difficulties to seek care. Once they do, there is a low rate of follow-up on recommended interventions, particularly for hearing aids (Wilson et al., 2017; WHO, 2017). Unaddressed hearing loss is a serious and costly problem around the world. This motivated the World Health Organization to organize the annual World Hearing Day (WHD) campaign which takes place every March 3rd. The goal of the campaign is “to raise awareness Read more [...]

Workplace Smoke-Free Policies and Cessation Programs

Nearly half a million Americans still die prematurely from tobacco use each year despite the fact that it is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S.1, 2. So what can be done to prevent the toll of smoking in the U.S.? The workplace is an important setting for implementing tobacco control interventions. 3, 4 However, data on smoke-free workplace policies and cessation programs are limited. A new study from NIOSH researchers published in the American Journal Read more [...]

Construction Fall Fatalities Still Highest Among All Industries: What more can we do?

Falls are the leading cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry. In 2017, there were 366 fall fatalities out of 971 total fatalities in construction. According to the CPWR, from 2011-2015, 61% of fatal falls in construction occurred in small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Almost two-thirds of fatal falls were from roofs, scaffolds, and ladders. Hispanics are 29% of the US construction workforce yet account for 39% of fatal falls Read more [...]

Potential Hazards of Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly referred to as 3-D printing, is becoming more prevalent in industry. AM is a set of processes for making products by selectively joining small amounts of material, using a computer-aided design file. [1,2] The advantages for industry include: shortened production cycles, reduced tooling costs, reduced waste material, easier product customization, novel design options, and new possibilities in distribution and fulfilment. [2–6] The automotive, aerospace, Read more [...]

Promoción del bienestar de las trabajadoras a través de la salud maternal e infantil: Adaptaciones para facilitar la lactancia materna en el lugar de trabajo

Las contribuciones de las madres que trabajan, uno de los segmentos de la fuerza laboral de los Estados Unidos con más rápido crecimiento, son vitales para que haya una economía sólida. Sin embargo, estas madres también pueden tener dificultad para equilibrar sus carreras y demandas de trabajo con sus planes de tener hijos y su cuidado. Con su enfoque holístico para el bienestar del trabajador, Total Worker Health® fomenta políticas y prácticas Read more [...]

Women in STEM

In honor or Women’s History Month, this blog highlights a few of the talented female researchers working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at NIOSH. Their varied paths into STEM fields are as interesting as they are inspirational. After reading these stories please pass them along to other women and girls so that they can inspire the next generation of scientists. Kyla Retzer, MPH/ Research Epidemiologist Kyla Retzer’s journey into a STEM field started early in school. Read more [...]

Towards a Biosocial Approach to Occupational Safety and Health

The integration of the social determinants of health paradigm by occupational and public health researchers and institutions is leading to a recognition of the need for a more holistic and nuanced perspective on work and its impact on population health (Ahonen et al 2018; Schulte and Vainio, 2010; WHO 2008). Fundamental to this transformation is the need to complement traditional approaches to occupational health with new conceptual and methodological perspectives that can better account for the Read more [...]

Twenty–Nine Year Summary of Silicosis in Michigan

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to airborne silica. Generally, it causes scarring (pulmonary fibrosis) after 20 or more years of exposure. Since 1988, Michigan has been identifying individuals who develop silicosis with the goal of targeting prevention actions. Michigan’s system is both the longest running and only comprehensive surveillance system for silicosis in the United States. We recently reported on the 1,048 Michigan residents with confirmed silicosis identified over Read more [...]

National Engineers Week 2019

This week is National Engineers Week which is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) employs over 200 engineers and engineering technicians who identify, evaluate, develop, and implement engineering control technology to prevent occupational disease and injury. NIOSH engineers cover various disciplines including: Read more [...]

Good Clean Fun: Cleaning Considerations for Elastomeric Respirators

Valentine’s Day is a day for all of us to reflect on love and relationships. With so much romance in the air, we began to think about what makes for a lasting relationship? How can we all achieve our own happily ever after? Being the relationship experts that we are here at NIOSH, we have some tips for your love life. When it comes to a long-lasting relationship, it is important to encourage the best out of each other. Successful partnership are ones in which you can confidently rely on your Read more [...]

Promoting Worker Well-Being through Maternal and Child Health: Breastfeeding Accommodations in the Workplace

As one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. labor force, the contributions of working mothers are vital to a strong economy. Yet working mothers can also struggle to balance their career and work demands with reproductive plans and caregiving. As a holistic approach to worker well-being, Total Worker Health® encourages policies and practices that simultaneously protect workers while also improving their health and well-being—such as providing the work-related support to sustain an Read more [...]

Preventing Electrocution of Construction Contract Workers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released a report based upon U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data showing that 77% of the 325 contract worker electrocutions that occurred from 2012-2016 involved workers employed in the construction industry (NFPA 2018). Nearly 60% of the electrocutions were caused by direct contact with electricity. Construction workers account for a large portion of electrical injuries in the US each year. In Read more [...]

Exploring Individual and Organizational Stress-reducing Interventions across Industries

Physical and mental job stress are critical drivers of individual health problems and organizational and societal costs. Health effects of stress lead to higher absenteeism, turnover, and loss of productivity for organizations, as well as higher healthcare expenditures. Long-term impact of stress on employees leads to chronic health conditions. Workplace interventions can help working adults reduce stress which in turn may reduce the impact of chronic health conditions. In May 2018, research on stress-reducing Read more [...]

NIOSH, Wiki Education Foundation, and Harvard University Work Together to Make Occupational Safety and Health Content Accessible to All

Choosing the right final project for a graduate level course can be a daunting responsibility for any instructor. Harvard Research Scientist and Instructor Dr. Diana Ceballos heard NIOSH researcher Dr. Thais Morata share details at a NORA conference about NIOSH’s collaboration with academia and Wikipedia to teach students science translation and knew it was a perfect match. After just a few emails and quickly enrolling to use the Wiki Education Foundation platform, an incredible new way of Read more [...]

NIOSH Info: What was hot in 2018

  It’s the season of reflection and of lists. We’ve looked back at 2018 to see what NIOSH information was most popular and compiled lists of the 2018 top five most accessed NIOSH blogs, tweets, web pages, search terms, publications and Facebook posts. Instagram Instagram is our fastest growing social media platform. In 2018, we gained over 1,200 followers bringing our total followers to 2,287. We began sharing short animated clips on our platform highlighting our research, as well Read more [...]

North Pole Medical Mystery SOLVED!

Crisis averted. Barring severe weather issues or a catastrophe, it looks like children around the world will receive their presents now that the elves are healthy and back at work. (Read the case details here). After Santa requested a NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation, NIOSH researchers were mysteriously transported to the North Pole to try to figure out what was causing elves in the toy shop to suffer from congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throats, burning eyes, and fatigue. NIOSH Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery at the North Pole

What is going on at the North Pole? Several elves in the toy making department have reported congestion, cough and shortness of breath. While it is cold and flu season, all of the elves have had their flu shots and the issues seem to be contained to the elves working in the toy shop. A handful of elves also report sore throats, burning eyes and fatigue. This is highly unusual. Santa and the elves cannot recall a similar situation in all of their years. In trying to identify a culprit, they remembered Read more [...]

Health for the Holidays: Risks and Recommendations for the Retail Industry

It’s finally here—the most wonderful time of the year… for shopping. People will visit retail stores to buy a variety of goods: the cleaning supplies they will use to prepare for holiday celebrations, the food and beverages they will serve at holiday gatherings, the holiday gifts they will give loved ones, and much more. Economic projections suggest retailers should brace themselves for a heavy amount of seasonal shopping traffic this year. According to an October 2018 Gallup poll, Read more [...]

Improving Programs to Control Hazardous Energy: New website offers tools and templates

A new website from the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Manufacturing Sector Council features ways in which businesses and companies can safeguard employees from the release of hazardous energy (any source of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other energy) during service and maintenance activities. The new website features a resource guide with step-by-step guidance and customizable materials and templates to help implement effective strategies for controlling Read more [...]

A Mini-Symposium on Cumulative Risk Assessment in the Occupational Setting

Many of us in the occupational safety and health field have likely faced an issue similar to this: The workers in my plant are exposed to both noise and solvents. I’ve read that both of these exposures can interact to cause hearing loss. How should I control these exposures to reduce the risk of occupational hearing loss? If I control each of the exposures to their relevant occupational exposure limits, is that good enough? Or should I control these exposures to levels below their occupational Read more [...]

The 2018 Summer Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP)

The 2018 Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP) summer marked the program’s 15th year of placing students in the field with a worker or community based organization on projects that investigate work-related health and safety issues. This summer, 22 OHIP interns worked on 12 occupational health and safety projects in eight locations. At the start of the OHIP summer, the interns met in Los Angeles for a three-day national orientation, where they visited worksites to identify hazards and Read more [...]