Archive for NIOSH

Assessing Lifting Risk Factors Using Wearable Motion Sensors

A combination of work-related physical risk factors such as awkward postures or heavy lifting may lead to an increased risk of developing low back issues. Those in the occupational safety and health field continue to conduct research to prevent workplace musculoskeletal injuries. Researchers have used industry settings, self-reports and observational methods to evaluate these injuries. However, these methods have limitations because of the subjective ratings of risk factors. Recent developments in Read more [...]

Manufacturing Day 2020: Staying Safer in 2020

National Manufacturing Day 2020 is a day devoted to educating the public about manufacturing and manufacturers. About the Manufacturing Sector Manufacturing is the fourth largest industrial sector in the United States, currently employing about 15.6 million Americans, [1] representing aabout 11% of the gross domestic product. [2] The White House has declared manufacturing to be a national priority. [3] Manufacturing workers experience a higher percentage of nonfatal injuries and illnesses per capita Read more [...]

Preventing Struck-by Injuries in Construction

Struck-by injuries are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and the second most common cause of fatalities among construction workers (1), costing over $1.7 billion in workers compensation costs in 2016 (2). These injuries occur when a worker is struck by a moving vehicle, equipment, or by a falling or flying object, (3). For construction workers, the risk of nonfatal struck-by injuries is twice the risk of all other industries combined, and construction workers have the highest number of fatal Read more [...]

The Unique Occupational Environment of the Home Healthcare Worker

Patient care is expanding beyond the walls of healthcare organizations. Improvements in technology, progression of disease management, and a growing number of persons seeking care within their homes are driving the growth of the home healthcare industry. Home healthcare workers (HHCWs) are a vital part of the rapidly growing industry and their work environment and occupational hazards are as diverse as the communities and homes they enter to provide care. The home healthcare service industry is one Read more [...]

Wildland Firefighter Health: Some Burning Questions

While research has not yet been conducted on all the hazards and risks associated with the wildland firefighting job, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is asked numerous questions about the hazards of fighting wildland fires. This blog is designed to answer some of those questions. What Is in Wildland Fire Smoke? Wildland fire smoke is a mixture of gases and particles such as carbon monoxide (CO) and respirable particulate matter (PM) that may cause short- and long-term Read more [...]

Rising to the Challenges and Opportunities Presented by the Future of Work: NIOSH introduces its Future of Work Initiative

The future of work is influenced by many changes to workplace, work, and workforce factors such as organizational design, work arrangements, technological job displacement, artificial intelligence, robotics, technologies, demographics, economic security, and skills. Advances in the future of work offer many opportunities, but they also create challenges for the workplace and work, with consequences for the safety, health, and well‐being of the workforce. Holistic workplace and work programs, Read more [...]

Protecting Machine Operators from Silica Dust: Enclosed Cabs

  Construction workers who operate heavy equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, cranes, and backhoes frequently generate large quantities of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust. Exposure to even small amounts of RCS over time can cause silicosis, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other serious diseases. A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 79% of the 100,000 workers exposed to RCS above the recommended exposure Read more [...]

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Opioid Overdose Epidemic: A Perfect Storm for Workers?

Introduction Before the pandemic took hold, the United States was already facing another public health crisis – alarming rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2018, 46,802 deaths were attributed to opioids, which accounted for 69% of all drug overdose deaths.1 Based on provisional data, an estimated 50,828 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2019 — 70% of the total estimated drug overdose deaths last year. As COVID-19 has swept the nation and globe, the virus and its implications Read more [...]

Statement by Dr. John Howard on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance 2020

Nineteen years ago, we faced the unimaginable. The events of September 11th, 2001, have left a permanent mark on us all. Today we remember the lives lost on that fateful day, as well as the bravery, resilience, and sacrifice shown in the face of tragedy by responders and survivors. Each Day of Remembrance is also a chance for reflection about 9/11. Almost two decades later, many responders and survivors still suffer the long-term health effects, both physically and mentally. Their resolve and health Read more [...]

Partnering to Prevent Suicide in the Construction Industry – Building Hope and a Road to Recovery

September is Suicide Prevention Month. During this yearly observance, many organizations will place special emphasis on mental health and suicide prevention – including those in the construction industry where suicide rates of workers are alarmingly high.1 Overall, suicide rates in the U.S. have increased, and it has been the 10th leading cause of death since 2008.2 Additionally, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) MMWR found during late June 2020, forty percent of U.S. Read more [...]

Respiratory Protection vs. Source Control – What’s the difference?

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that adults and children two years and older wear a mask, especially when social distancing is not possible or feasible[1]. Cloth masks and medical masks used in healthcare settings (such as surgical or procedure masks) are important tools in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, however they are not a type of respiratory protection. Due to limited supplies, respiratory protection should be reserved for workers who rely on Read more [...]

Supplementing the Supply of N95s with Reusable Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators

As we celebrate our annual Respiratory Protection Week Observance this year, we at NIOSH want to show our appreciation to all the workers who use respiratory protection and the manufacturers who develop these products to keep our nation’s workers safe. Whether your role is to heal, protect, create, or construct, we rely on your skills and your willingness to do a job that requires systems to be in place to protect the health and safety of America’s workers. We continue striving to support Read more [...]

Labor Day 2020: Statement by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

Labor Day was created to honor workers for their contributions and achievements at a time in history when workers faced long working hours and dangerous working conditions. The need to recognize our nation’s workers for their contributions and resilience could not be more relevant today. Millions of workers provide “essential services”—services that are vital to the health and welfare or critical infrastructure of our nation. These workers carry on through disasters or public Read more [...]

Take Action to Protect Your Hearing

  In the United States, hearing loss is the third-most common chronic physical condition among adults after hypertension and arthritis. About 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to occupational noise each year. About 12% of the U.S. working population has hearing difficulty and around 58% of the hearing difficulty among U.S. workers is attributable to occupational exposures. Within every industry sector, there are some workers exposed to hazardous noise levels, although some workers in mining, Read more [...]

Cannabis and Work: The Need for More Research

Introduction Cannabis sativa has been used for a wide variety of industrial, medical, and non-medical uses for thousands of years, yet remains a source of controversy across the fields of medicine, law, and occupational safety1-5. Access to and consumption of cannabis have increased as a result of more favorable public attitudes and state access laws. Nearly 18 percent of full-time workers and 21 percent of part-time workers used cannabis in 20186. Lifetime, past-year, and past-month use among full-time Read more [...]

An Expanded Focus for Occupational Safety and Health

  Work is changing. Technology, globalization, shifts in demographics, and other economic and political forces create new challenges for workers, employers, and those who work to protect them. In a recent commentary in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health we suggest that the field of occupational safety and health (OSH) must also change to meet the needs of the future. Factors influencing worker health and well-being go beyond traditional OSH concerns (exposures Read more [...]

A Guide to Respirators Used for Dust in Construction

Construction dust can cause serious damage to workers’ health and life-threatening diseases. Construction workers can be exposed to many types of dust, such as silica, wood, and lead dust. Workplace exposure to small particles of silica dust, also known as respirable crystalline silica, can lead to serious diseases, including silicosis, a progressive lung disease marked by scarring and thickening of the lung tissue; lung cancer; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and kidney disease. Read more [...]

Research Questions for Aerosol Scientists Addressing COVID-19 and the Workplace

  The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has raised many questions about the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, including the possibility of aerosol transmission. In the workplace, workers may encounter asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and symptomatic individuals who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and may expel airborne particles containing the virus. Aerosol scientists bring a unique understanding of airborne particle behavior to infectious disease transmission Read more [...]

Work Ability among Older Nurses

  As the U.S. workforce ages, many older nurses continue to work in direct patient care. However, by 2030, an estimated 1 million nurses will have retired from the workforce (Buerhaus, Skinner, Auerbach, & Staiger, 2017). The known safety and health hazards for nurses in direct-care positions could be even more dangerous for older workers. Nursing care requires physical tasks with repeated bending, lifting, and twisting that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). On average, nurses Read more [...]

Stand-Down for Falls in Its 7th Year: Fatal Falls are Falling

The National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction was launched in 2012 through the NORA Construction Sector Council with leadership from NIOSH, OSHA and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. Each year as part of the Campaign, safety stand-downs are held by employers across the country to focus on fall prevention. The 2020 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls is set for September 14–18 to coincide with Construction Safety Week. Individual safety stand downs Read more [...]

Heat Stress Imposed by PPE Worn in Hot and Humid Environments

  A recent blog discussed prolonged respirator use and the potential physiological burden that could result from the buildup of CO2 within the respirator facepiece. Heat stress is another potential stress factor that healthcare workers (HCWs) who use personal protective equipment (PPE) and their employers should be aware of in order to recognize the signs and be prepared with the knowledge of how to alleviate the burden. Respirator and Other PPE Use in Warm and Potentially Humid Environments. Read more [...]

Skin Irritation from Prolonged Use of Tight-Fitting Respirators

Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs) are typically used by workers, including first responders and healthcare professionals, for short, infrequent periods of time to protect against potential airborne transmissible diseases. However, during widespread respiratory infectious disease outbreaks, there may be a need to implement respirator extended use practices due to an inadequate supply of FFRs. Skin irritation caused by disposable FFR use for extended periods of time has been documented during Read more [...]

How Collecting and Analyzing COVID-19 Case Job Information Can Make a Difference in Public Health

  Collecting, coding, analyzing and reporting industry and occupation data from COVID-19 cases is necessary to inform strategies to reduce the impact of the pandemic on workers. As described in the previous blog post, “Collecting occupation and industry data in public health surveillance systems for COVID-19,” it’s important to collect job information for all workers with COVID-19. Having information about industry and occupation helps the public health community identify work-related Read more [...]

Measuring Workplace Risks across States

When assessing workplace safety in the United States, we have to consider what measures of risk to use. If all measures are strongly positively correlated, this may not matter. But they are not, so the choice of risk measure does matter: states where employers report the highest rates of non-fatal injuries have the lowest fatality rates; and those with the lowest non-fatal rates have high fatality rates. The figure below compares the fatality and DART (Days Away from work, Restricted work activity Read more [...]

The Role of Organizational Support and Healthy Work Design

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives and has had a significant effect on the well-being of workers (APA, 2020; Kaiser, 2020; Nigam et al., 2020). As the nation aims to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases and protect public health, employers are working to keep their businesses afloat while providing a safe environment for employees and customers. At the same time, workers are trying to adopt protective health practices Read more [...]

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 [...]