NIOSH Celebrates One-Year-Anniversary of Total Worker Health

June 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm • Posted in NIOSH News, Safety at the WorkplaceNo comments yet

This month, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health celebrates the one-year-anniversary of Total Worker Health, a program focused around integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion in order to reduce incidents of worker injury and illness and advance health and well-being. The program is focused around finding ways to improve the health and well-being of workers in ways that go beyond traditional focuses of incident management, including developing a supportive and hazard free environment, and where workplace policies encourage healthier choices.

The role of the employer in ensuring the quality of life of their employees cannot be overlooked, not only by focusing on a safe environment, but by focusing on a friendly environment. Depression and anxiety can exacerbate existing health conditions or create new health issues, resulting in increased incidents of worker illness; stress and frustration can result in increased on-the-job accidents even in an otherwise safe working environment. NIOSH has been hard at work conducting research to identify and address risk factors in the workplace, and will be discussing their findings through a number of conferences and symposiums throughout the year.

NIOSH Report Determines Texas Federal Wildfire Firefighter Died of Preventable Heatstroke

May 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm • Posted in NIOSH News, Personal Protective Equipment1 Comment

It’s always unfortunate when a firefighter loses his life in the call of duty while trying to save the lives of others. It’s worse when you learn that the death was preventable. Caleb Hamm, elite member of the federal Bureau of Land Management’s “Hot Shot” firefighting team, collapsed while working far away from his colleagues, working together to fight a brush fire threatening the Fort Worth area.

The report indicated that crewmembers were working with fewer breaks than normal, and the common belief amongst the crew was that extra breaks might jeopardize future employment opportunities, and that reporting heatstroke symptoms might result in discipline or reprisals, or cost them reputation or credibility.

The report recommends strategies to address these concerns, as well as strategies to improve heat stress management and response to emergency heatstroke situations.

With most Americans feeling the economic squeeze in every industry from construction to land management to law enforcement to the corporate office, it may be hard to take action when the consequences might be termination. However, the alternative may be a far worse tragedy than unemployment. Work safe and don’t forget to stay cool this summer.

Read the full NIOSH report here.

New Airborne Pathogen Risk for Workers?

January 17, 2012 at 12:01 am • Posted in NIOSH News, NIOSH Safety Topics, Respiratory ProtectionNo comments yet

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has uncovered a new workplace safety topic that has important implications for everyone from road workers to gravel pit workers. Erionite, a silicate mineral classified as a zeolite, was once believed to be a minimal work hazard in America. But when the material becomes airborne it can be a cause of mesothelioma that is normally attributed to asbestos exposure. Evidence is mounting that exposure to erionite has been documented in states such as Nevada, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas.

Respiratory protection programs have mandated breathing masks whenever asbestos and other materdials are present. Recent studies have proven that airborne erionite exposure is present whenever soil containing the material is present and causes pulmonary disease. Breathing masks such as our popular 3M respirators have been a staple at our store ever since, but the origin of the threat is better known than erionite.

Any occupation that involves the disruption of the ground in western states may put their workers at risk. However the level of respiratory protection is unknown at this time and may involve more study to determine whether a simple breathing mask or a full face respirator mask is sufficient worker protection. The findings of NIOSH may eventually affect industries ranging from home construction to oil exploration workers.

Risk managers will in western states will want to follow NIOSH recommendations for reducing risk of erionite exposure.