Blogs Arbeidshygiënisten

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

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

Injured Workers More Likely to Die from Suicide or Opioid Overdose

Drug overdoses and suicides have been rising since 2000 and are major contributors to a recent decline in US life expectancy. The opioid crisis is largely to blame, with a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017.[1] Suicide rates in 2016 have increased 30% from 1999.[2] Case and Deaton have called these “deaths of despair.”[3] In the study, “Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury,” published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers found that workplace injury significantly raises a person’s risk of suicide or overdose death. Earlier studies have shown that injured workers have elevated rates opioid use and

Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: Camp Counselor Illness

After a week of working at an outdoor day camp as a counselor, Daniel began to feel sick with a cough, headache, and a fever. Several other counselors experienced similar symptoms requiring them to miss work. The camp owners recognized they had a problem and called in the county health department for assistance. At their initial visit, the investigators observed what appeared to be bat droppings (guano) on picnic tables and on the dirt floor of the shelters. Further testing revealed that the counselors were suffering from histoplasmosis, an infectious disease caused by inhaling the spores of a fungus called

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

U.S. companies are installing robots in record numbers (1). These include traditional industrial robots separated from human workers by cages and cells, as well as emerging robotics technologies that include robots designed to work alongside and in the same space as human workers. From a health and safety perspective, the proliferation of robotics technologies across various industries can be viewed as both positive and potentially concerning. While new technologies may be used to remove a worker from hazardous tasks thus reducing injuries, working closely with robots such as in a warehouse or on a construction site, may pose different hazards.

Workplace Medical Mystery: Camp Counselor Illness

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

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 season. Conventional flu surveillance relies on healthcare data such as lab

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, strains, dislocations, and tears to the lower extremities are the most

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 is gradually increasing in most states [Schulte, 2017]. The risk of worker encounters with venomous snakes outside these areas may increase as changes in local climate

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, explore data from the National Health Interview Survey and highlight the need to prevent low back pain- a

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 from NIOSH researchers entitled “Health effects from unintentional occupational exposure to opioids among law enforcement officers: Two case investigations” published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine seeks to characterize the risk associated with

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 and Shielding Association, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the Safety Ambassadors Club (SAC) are sponsoring the 2019 Trench

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 National Safety Month are hazard recognition; slips, trips, and falls;

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 linked to opioid use[iv]. Medication-assisted treatment* (MAT) has been effective for many people with opioid use disorder (OUD), allowing them to regain

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 Harvard Education and Research Center (ERC) looked at the prevalence of depression among commercial airline pilots. Researchers used an anonymous web-based survey of pilots recruited

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 and unexpected pitfalls. House Hydration “What is hydrated can never dry” If in the heat 2 hours or less,

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 modern measurement challenges. The Right Sensors Used Right approach has its roots in the concept that every real-time monitor or direct-reading methodology has its own unique

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 used to working in isolation and taking care of their own safety; and they have little time to be away from

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 the criteria of ‘burden’, ‘need’, and ‘impact’ to identify research priorities. This method is explained in detail in the article “Burden, Need and Impact: An Evidence-Based Method to Identify

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 that the smaller a business is, the more likely its workers are to experience injuries, illnesses, and