Archive for NIOSH

Job Strain, Long Work Hours, and Suicidal Thoughts

September 9-15th, 2018 is National Suicide Prevention week. Workplace suicide and mental health in general are often underrepresented in workplace health and safety discussions. However, globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability (WHO, 2017). In the US, the suicide mortality rate increased by 24% from 1999 to 2014, particularly among middle-age adults. The suicide mortality rate in US working populations has been also on the rise. A recent study Read more [...]

N95 Day 2018: Getting Down to the Particulars about Filter Class

Calling all N95 filter facepiece respirator users, program managers, educators, manufacturers, and general enthusiasts of respiratory protection. Today is N95 Day and we are psyched! We’ve planned this N95 Day party to be particularly packed with information pertaining to particles. (Say THAT five times fast.) We admit it; we are pretty geeky when it comes to protection against particles. But after almost 100 years of research and discovery, there’s a lot of information on the subject. Read more [...]

Labor Day Message from NIOSH Director, John Howard, MD

More than just a “day off,” Labor Day provides us a moment to pause and reflect on the efforts and sacrifice all men and women across the nation have worked through to keep this country moving, day and night, contributing to the economic and material well-being of its inhabitants. NIOSH’s mission has been and will be to ensure the safety and health of all workers. One way to capture the importance of this work is to tell someone’s story. Years ago, NIOSH produced a video, Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: Water Patrol Deputy Gets Sick Out on the Lake

Jim worked as a water patrol deputy for the county sheriff’s office. While working a 10-hour shift in the hot sun over a busy holiday weekend he began to feel sick. It started with a headache while he was working in a channel where hundreds of boaters congregate for a floating party.  He then became dizzy and started to slur his speech. Jim’s patrol partner rushed him to the shore where medics took him to the hospital. Read more about his case here. At first it seemed Jim may Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery: Water Patrol Deputy Gets Sick Out on the Lake

“Today’s going to be a scorcher–expect highs to reach a balmy 99 degrees!” exclaimed the voice from the radio. Jim grumbled as he listened to the weather report on his drive to work. Jim is a deputy with the county sheriff’s office assigned to the water patrol unit. Hot summer days always bring people out to the local lake, but since it is Labor Day weekend and the area is experiencing a heat wave, Jim expected the lake to be extra crowded with boats filled with families, Read more [...]

Gases and vapors continue to pose hazards on oil and gas well sites during gauging, fluid transfer, and disposal

Background A previous NIOSH report (2016)1 described the death of nine oil and gas extraction workers that occurred during gauging or sampling activities at open thief hatches on crude oil storage tanks. Hydrocarbon gases and vapors (HGVs) and associated oxygen displacement were the primary or contributory factors in these fatalities. Additionally, wellsite exposure assessments conducted by OSHA and NIOSH identified HGVs at open thief hatches in concentrations that were immediately dangerous to life Read more [...]

Characterizing 3D Printing Emissions and Controls in an Office Environment

Disclaimer: Mention of any company, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or imply that any company or its products or services are preferred over any other.   3D printing or additive manufacturing allows users to “print” a variety of items, from airplane parts to prosthetic limbs. Read more [...]

Beyond Determining Compliance: How Can Workers’ Compensation Insurers’ Exposure Data Be Improved and Used?

The workers’ compensation system can be used for more than processing work-related illness or injury insurance claims. The data collected through this system provide valuable information to identify how these injuries and illnesses happen, so that they can be prevented. In recent years, use of workers’ compensation injury and illness data in the public health field has grown. However, occupational exposure data (also known as industrial hygiene data) collected by many workers’ compensation Read more [...]

Grounds for Change: Reducing Noise Exposure in the Grounds Management Professions – Part 2

Workers in grounds management professions, which includes landscaping, lawn maintenance and horticulturists, are often exposed to hazardous noise while on the job. Part One of this summer series discussed some of the dangers of noise, including hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other health issues. In addition to its negative effects on personal health, loud noise can cause annoyance and stress. When working with noisy equipment, you should be able to recognize when noise levels are Read more [...]

The Powerhouse: Students’ contributions towards expanding and improving occupational safety and health content in Wikipedia

The history and motivation behind the efforts NIOSH is putting into expanding and improving occupational safety and health in Wikipedia was discussed in earlier NIOSH Science Blogs (May 19,2015 and July 25, 2018)  and thru the NIOSH January 2017 eNews. Here we will focus on the partnerships created between NIOSH and university graduate and training programs since 2016. In 2015, the NIOSH authors of this Blog reached out to university professors to encourage adoption of the platform developed Read more [...]

Grounds for Change: Reducing Noise Exposure in Grounds Management Professionals – Part 1

While the dog days of summer mean slowing down for some people, sunshine brings the busy season for those in the grounds management professions, which includes landscaping, tree care and horticulture. This summer work means breaking out tools that can create loud noise: lawn mowers, edgers, chainsaws, chippers — just to name a few. This noise is more than just an annoyance, it can create long-term health effects including hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and even cardiovascular Read more [...]

Expanding and Improving Occupational Safety and Health Content in Wikipedia. It Matters.

NIOSH is one of the first US federal agencies to collaborate with the Wikimedia organizations and it is doing so by actively contributing data and the latest research to help improve the health of the population. NIOSH’s effort involves examining mechanisms to help make sure that the occupational safety and health information that reaches Wikipedia’s millions of readers is complete, up-to-date, and free of errors. The January 2017 NIOSH eNews article Reaching Our Audience Where They Are: Read more [...]

How Can we Measure Impulse Noise Properly?

Impulsive noise is typically generated by the rapid release of compressed gases (impulse) or the collision of solid objects (impact) and is defined as the instantaneous change in sound pressure over a short period of time. Considerable research has shown that impulsive noise is more likely to cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) than continuous noise of equal energy. Exposure to high-intensity impulses can cause acoustic trauma and instant mechanical damage to the inner ear. Exposure to impulsive Read more [...]

Workplace Noise: More than just “All Ears”

Noise is everywhere, but how loud does it need to be to cause harm? While many people know that loud noise can hurt their ears, they don’t know how loud is too loud or how long they can listen before it becomes harmful. Noise around 85 decibels (dBA) – which is loud enough that you must raise your voice to be heard by someone three feet away (arm’s length) – can damage your hearing after repeated exposures lasting 8 hours or more. Equipment, like printing presses and lawn Read more [...]

Fentanyls and the Safety of First Responders: Science and Recommendations

The severity of the opioid epidemic is well-documented. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that drug overdose deaths in the United States more than tripled from 1999 to 2015.[1] From 2015 to 2016, opioid overdose deaths increased by more than 20 percent—rising from 52,898 in 2016 to 64,070 deaths in 2017.[2] Additionally, in 2016, U.S. life expectancy declined for the second year in a row caused in part by an increase in unintentional injuries, chiefly drug Read more [...]

Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: What is causing a recycling worker’s respiratory distress?

While working at a metal recycling facility, Joe was suddenly overcome with shortness of breath, coughing, chest pressure, and eye irritation. After transport to a local hospital, Joe was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. Read more about his case here.  What was the cause of his illness? The plume of smoke Joe ran through was a thick yellow gas. Testing revealed it was chlorine gas accidently released from an intact, closed-valved cylinder being processed for scrap Read more [...]

Workplace Medial Mystery: What is causing a recycling worker’s respiratory distress?

Joe worked at a metal recycling facility in Nevada. His typical job duties included operating a material handler to load scrap metal into a shear for crushing. During his shift at the recycling facility, Joe looked up to see a plume of thick yellow smoke swirl around a pile of scrap metal and was suddenly overcome with shortness of breath, coughing, chest pressure, and eye irritation. He thought about grabbing a fire extinguisher but then ran away from the smoke until the air cleared. Joe’s Read more [...]

NIOSH in Alaska: Improving Worker Safety

This blog is pulled from a story originally posted in the CDC’s “Inside Story: Public Health in Action” on 2/8/18 Before he became an epidemiologist, Devin Lucas grew up in a fishing family. His grandfather moved to Anchorage in 1953 and purchased a commercial fishing vessel. Then his dad grew up in the business. So did Lucas and all his siblings. He fished for salmon off the Kenai Peninsula from the outlet of the Kenai River to the Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Eight of the Read more [...]

A Framework for Productive Aging and Work

The aging of the U.S. population has led to a number of changes in the workforce, particularly a movement of the worker distribution toward older ages2, 4. By 2022, about one-third (31.9%) of Americans aged 65 to 74 years will still be working (Toosi 2013). The impact of a longer working life can be significant in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, work is the main means of income for consumption and savings, serves an anchoring function in society, and can be a source of dignity, Read more [...]

Make One Change for Safety this National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, an opportunity to help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths at work, on the roads, and in our homes and communities. With this year’s theme, No 1 Gets Hurt, we are encouraging readers to think of at least one change you can make to improve safety this month. This joint blog from NIOSH and the National Safety Council (NSC) highlights the weekly themes of emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving. Help us spread the word about National Safety Month Read more [...]

Improving Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction and Mining Industries

With nearly 126 million full-time U.S. workers at risk of occupational illness and injury, it is critical to prioritize our research efforts to address the most important issues. One approach used by NIOSH and its partners to establish priorities is to consider the burden, need, and impact of potential research topics. This method allows us to identify the most important and impactful research to conduct and helps to ensure we are being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. Another method Read more [...]

Vacuum Lifting System to Reduce Spinal Load During Airline Baggage Handling

Did you know NIOSH has tested a vacuum lifting assist system to reduce spinal strain during airline baggage handling? In collaboration with the Ohio State University, NIOSH published an article in Applied Ergonomics on the effectiveness of a vacuum lifting system in reducing spinal strain or loading during airline baggage handling. The study evaluated the techniques (i.e., manual lifting or lifting with vacuum lift system), task (i.e., loading or unloading suitcase), and baggage cart shelf height Read more [...]

Timber, Noise, and Hearing Loss: A Look into the Forestry and Logging Industry

We use our senses for many things. Take away or weaken one, such as hearing, and many things around us begin to change. Unexpectedly, the conversation across the room becomes more difficult to hear. Our favorite song on the radio doesn’t sound quite the same. This can become very frustrating for the person affected. Hearing loss is common, especially among workers who are exposed to hazardous noise where they work. What exactly is “hazardous noise”? Noise is considered hazardous Read more [...]

Safe-in-Sound Award Celebrates 10 Years and New Partner

In 2008, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) created the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ to recognize organizations that document measurable achievements in hearing loss prevention. Over the past 10 years we have given out 10 Excellence Awards and 13 Innovation Awards. In addition to honoring success in hearing loss prevention, the awards have served an important secondary purpose Read more [...]

NIOSH and FDA Collaboration Streamlines Regulatory Oversight for N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators

Previously, N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95) used in healthcare needed approval from both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).* On May 17, 2018, FDA published a final order in the Federal Register to exempt a subset of N95s intended for use in healthcare from premarket notification requirements subject to conditions and limitations. This exemption will decrease the regulatory burden on some respirator manufacturers, Read more [...]

Graduate Students Use Coursework to Provide Health Communication Support on NIOSH Projects

Earlier this month three students enrolled in a graduate-level health communication class at West Virginia University delivered presentations on NIOSH-related projects that they completed as part of their coursework. As part of their projects, students used health communication, social marketing, health literacy, and web design principles and best practices.  Summaries of the student projects and their personal experiences working on current health communication opportunities follow.   Read more [...]

Work Arrangement and Access to and Use of Healthcare Services

Workers Memorial Day is observed annually on April 28 to recognize workers who suffered or died because of exposures to hazards at work. The April 27, 2018, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) contributed to the Worker Memorial Day remembrance with an article on fatalities in the fishing industry and a QuickStats, highlighted in this blog, showing a link between work and receiving an influenza vaccine. The QuickStats used data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, National Read more [...]

Workers Memorial Day 2018: Statement from Dr. John Howard

Every year on April 28th, we observe Workers Memorial Day, remembering those workers who have been killed or injured on the job. This is also an opportunity to reflect on how we, as a federal research institute, and our partners in industry, labor, academia and the safety and health practice community, can contribute to making our nation’s workplaces as safe and healthy as possible for all workers across America. On average, nearly 100 workers died on the job every week in 2016, according to Read more [...]

Fatal Falls Overboard in Commercial Fishing

April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day where we remember those who have lost their lives while trying to make a living. The current issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes workplace fatality, injury and illness data; a QuickStats which demonstrates differences among employment categories in influenza vaccination; and the article summarized in this blog, “Fatal Falls Overboard in Commercial Fishing — Read more [...]

Musculoskeletal Health Research to Benefit Surface Stone, Sand, and Gravel Miners

In October 2017, the NIOSH Musculoskeletal Health Cross-Sector Program published the first blog post in a series to highlight musculoskeletal health research at NIOSH. This post—the fifth installment in the series—will discuss how best to promote musculoskeletal health and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among surface stone, sand, and gravel mine workers. As of 2015, 80% of active surface mining operations were extracting stone, sand, and gravel. A majority of Read more [...]

5th Annual National Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

Falls remain the leading cause of death in construction. In 2016, there were 370 fall fatalities out of 991 total fatalities in construction. There were more fatal injuries in construction than any other industry in the United States in 2015, accounting for 20% of the nation’s 4,836 work-related deaths that year. According to the CPWR-the Center for Construction Research and Training, from 2011-2015, 61% of fatal falls in construction occurred in small businesses with fewer than 10 employees Read more [...]

Ototoxicant Chemicals and Workplace Hearing Loss

  Since the 19th century, many therapeutic drugs have been known to affect hearing. Known as ototoxic drugs, many are used today in clinical situations despite these negative side effects because they are effective in treating serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Research has shown that exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace may also negatively affect how the ear functions, potentially causing hearing loss or balance problems, regardless of noise exposure. Substances containing Read more [...]

The Use of Real-time Respirable Dust Monitors

Sensors are an increasing presence in our lives—from wearable gadgets to smart buildings, from autonomous vehicles to smart cities. In occupational health and safety, sensors are used widely for exposure monitoring, emergency response, and safer worker-machine interfaces. The use of sensors as real-time respirable dust monitors is a targeted application with its own specific challenges. The information from real-time respirable dust monitors can be used to identify tasks and activities throughout Read more [...]

Naomi Swanson, PhD: Advancing Worker Health Through Improved Organization of Work and Ergonomic Design

During Women’s History Month, NIOSH will highlight several female researchers and their contributions to NIOSH and America’s workers.   Naomi Swanson has served as the Chief of the Organizational Science and Human Factors Branch (OSHFB) in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology since May 2008. She received her M.A. in Experimental Psychology (specializing in perception, cognition and memory) and her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering (specializing in sociotechnical systems Read more [...]

Chia-Chia Chang, MBA, MPH; Adele Childress, PhD; and Sara Tamers, PhD: Advancing Total Worker Health initiatives through Partnerships, Workforce Development, and Research

During Women’s History Month, NIOSH will highlight several female researchers and their contributions to NIOSH and America’s workers.   Chia-Chia Chang, MBA, MPH, is the Coordinator for Partnership and New Opportunity Development in the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health® .  In this capacity she has helped bring on over 30 partners for Total Worker Health (TWH) as part of the NIOSH Total Worker Health Affiliate Program. She writes feature articles for the TWH in Action! Read more [...]

Workplace Safety Communications Campaigns Should be Driven by Employer, Industry, Workflow, and Culture

Employees who drive for work face significant roadway risks, and motor vehicle crashes can devastate families, communities, and organizations. Crashes are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, with 1,252 deaths of vehicle drivers and passengers on public roads in 2016. In 2013, on-the-job crashes cost employers over $25 billion and led to 155,000 lost work days. Despite the human and financial costs of crashes, only 24 percent of employers offer occupational health services as part of their Read more [...]

Amy Chambers, MS, and Lauren Chubb, DrPH: Advancing Safety and Health for Miners

During Women’s History Month, NIOSH will highlight several female researchers and their contributions to NIOSH and America’s workers.   Amy Chambers, MS Amy Chambers, MS, is a research engineer working in the NIOSH Spokane Mining Research Division. She joined NIOSH in July 2015. Ms. Chambers seeks to ensure underground miners have a stable roof to work under. With a background in metallurgy, she is the lead engineer for corrosion research as part of a project to examine ground control Read more [...]

Musculoskeletal Health Research to Benefit Construction Workers

In October 2017 the NIOSH Musculoskeletal Health Cross-Sector program published the first blog in a series to highlight musculoskeletal health research at NIOSH. With spring just around the corner, this blog—the fourth installment in the series—will discuss how best to promote musculoskeletal health and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among construction workers. Construction workers—individuals who build, maintain, and renovate our nation’s roads, Read more [...]

Lee Greenawald, PhD: An up and coming leader in PPE

During Women’s History Month, NIOSH will highlight several female researchers and their contributions to NIOSH and America’s workers. Lee Greenawald, PhD, is a NIOSH career development success story. While working on her B.S. in Forensic Chemistry from Ohio University, Lee began her career at NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) as a summer student in 2009. In those early summer student days at the Lab, she assisted with both qualitative and quantitative Read more [...]

HeeSun Choi, PhD, and Christina Socias-Morales, DrPh: Creating Safer Workplaces

During Women’s History Month, NIOSH will highlight several female researchers and their contributions to NIOSH and America’s workers.   HeeSun Choi, PhD HeeSun Choi, PhD, is a psychologist working in the Protective Technology Branch in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research. Dr. Choi started with the Institute in 2016. Dr. Choi’s research is helping to make workers’ jobs safer. She has been involved in NIOSH’s recent efforts to address occupational robot safety issues Read more [...]