Occupational Health and Safety
Section Newsletter
Fall 2011

Message from the Chair

by Tim Morse

OHS Section Chair

 

The OHS Section has been extremely active as we prepare for one of the largest group of papers and posters ever at the Washington Annual Meeting. It appears that we had a record amount of submissions this year and therefore a very busy (and energetic!) Program Committee sifting for the best presentations. As a result, we have an amazingly broad and deep program this year (posted on our website), reflecting both the science and advocacy aspects of occupational health and safety.

 

We have amazing award winners: Martin Cherniack, Alice Hamilton award, LaMont Byrd and Amy K. Liebman (Lorin Kerr Awards), Barbara Rahke, Tony Mazzocchi Award, and Salvador Moncada i Lluis, International Health and Safety Award. The awards will be presented at the Tuesday luncheon (along with the always amazing and hilarious skit from the Dooley Players).

 

We also have a joint breakfast social (with the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics) Sunday morning, our welcome social on Sunday night at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters, and the legendary Dance Party on Tuesday night that attracts people from all across APHA.

 

And finally, we are honored to have occupational health selected as the topic for the APHA-wide closing session on Wednesday afternoon, so be sure to have your travel plans allow you to be there to hear Linda Rae Murray (OHS member and APHA president), David Michaels (OHS member and head of OSHA), Leo Gerard (International Union President from the Steelworkers Union), and Darryl Alexander (OHS member and health and safety staff for the American Federation of Teachers).

 

All OHS members should be aware that you are very welcome to our Section business meetings at the annual conference. Despite the title that conjures mind-numbing discussions of budgets and procedures (and sometimes early morning start times), our business meetings are well attended, lively discussions and meetings that feature important advocacy issues, heads-ups on important events and sessions at the conference, and fabulous networking opportunities with scientific, policy and advocacy experts.

 

Advocacy Issues

The Section has been working on several advocacy issues over the last few months. The Section sent a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget urging the release of a draft OSHA policy on employing minors in hazardous agricultural work which had been held up for a year for economic review. The letter resulted in some media coverage, will hopefully get it released for the public comment phase of rulemaking. We also submitted comments supporting bilingual labeling of pesticides to assist in protecting Spanish-speaking agricultural workers. Special thanks to Mary Miller, Celeste Monforton, and Amy Leibman for their work on these issues. We also have been working with national COSH groups and others on pushing for future funding for NIOSH Education and Research Centers and Agricultural Centers, both of which were tagged for elimination by the White House budget proposals. OSHA funding also needed support due to targeting by Republican budget proposals, which have been driven by a push for deregulating business. Resources and information for most of these issues (as well as information on the OSHA heat stress campaign) and much, much, more are available on our OHS website (and thanks to Bradley King for his great website work). We are also starting to prepare comments from the Section on the OSHA recordkeeping revisions and NIOSH carcinogens policy. 

 

Congratulations to OHS Officers!

Congratulations to our new just-elected officers. Linda Delp was elected to be Section chair beginning in November 2012 (my term ends at the Annual Meeting, with Walter Jones taking over until the annual meeting in 2012); Alberto Caban-Martinez will be taking over as secretary at the same time, taking over after Nancy Menzel ‘s and Deb Weinstock’s terms. In addition, Sandra Ramey and Vidisha Parasram were elected Section Councilors, and Leslie Nickels to the APHA Governing Council.

 

We encourage all members to join us for our monthly leadership calls (usually on the third Fridays of the month) and to find out about running for elected leadership positions or working on subcommittees. Contact me for information about how it works and what is available. In particular, the OHS Section will be celebrating our 100th anniversary at the 2014 meeting in New Orleans, and a Glenn Shor is chairing a committee to plan for that -- contact Shor.Glenn@dol.gov to get involved).

 

Jim Keogh Scholarships

We are pleased to announce the 2011 Jim Keogh Scholarship recipients. The award includes payment for one-year membership to APHA, registration fee for the Annual Meeting, Oct. 29 - Nov. 2, 2011, Washington, D.C., at the Convention Center, ticket to the OHS Section awards luncheon and a $300 stipend.

 

Ashley R. Kissinger

    – University of California, Los Angeles - Masters in Public Health

Gaspar Rivera

    – University of California, Irvine – MD and University of California, Los

      Angeles - Masters in Public Health

Hanifa M. Denny

    - University of South Florida – Doctorate in Occupational Health

Eseosa Orumwense

    - University of Illinois at Chicago – Maters in Public Health

Sonja Rivera

    – Tufts University School of Medicine- Masters in Public Health 

Monika Galecki

    - Drexel University School of Public Health – Masters of Public Health

 

2011 OHS Awardees

The Occupational Health and Safety Section APHA announced today the recipients of their awards for outstanding achievements. The OHS Section will celebrate the accomplishments of these individuals during a luncheon ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011.  The OHS Section is one of APHA’s oldest ― established in 1914―and is comprised of individuals who are dedicated to protecting and advancing workers’ rights to healthy and safe workplaces.  APHA is the largest and most diverse public health organization in the world. 

 

 

Martin Cherniack is the recipient of the 2011 Alice Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dr. Cherniack has been an occupational health clinician and physician-investigator for 30 years. With a clinical focus originally focused on asbestos exposures among members of the Metal Trades Council unions, he found many suffering from the effects of repetitive trauma, with particular problems from vibration exposure. This led to both extensive clinical work and research work in the area of musculoskeletal disorders and vibration, including the founding of the Ergonomic Technology Center at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Cherniack is the author of Hawk's Nest about the Gauley Bridge disaster, where thousands of mostly immigrant workers suffered from silicosis, and spent several years doing on-site investigation of childhood cancers in residents of Belarus exposed to radiation from Chernobyl. Dr. Cherniack currently serves as co-director of the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace.

  

Salvador Moncada i Lluís is the recipient of the 2011 International Health and Safety Award. Since 2000, Dr. Moncada has directed the ISTAS Center on Work Organization a non-profit trade union technical foundation supported by the Spanish Trade Union Confederation “Comisiones Obreras”.  Aiming to empower trade union health and safety representatives, Dr. Moncada conducts research and training on health inequalities related to gender and social class, and on the prevention of workplace psychosocial risks. He led the adaptation to Spain of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire, a work stressor questionnaire now used in Spanish national surveys, and collaborates with other research groups to adapt this questionnaire in Latin American countries.  Dr. Moncada previously served as director of the Center for Occupational Health of the Municipal Institute of Public Health of Barcelona, a Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health of the World Health Organization.

 

Amy Liebman is one of two recipients of the 2011 Lorin Kerr Award for Activism. Ms. Liebman is a tireless advocate for disenfranchised working populations. At the Migrant Clinicians Network she established and manages a one-of-kind program to address risks associated with environmental and occupational hazards for farmworkers and their families. She recognized years ago the value of culturally appropriate train-the-trainer models, such as promotores de salud, in building capacity among workers and community members, and empowering vulnerable communities to learn about environmental and occupational hazards and ways to reduce risks. Ms. Liebman was recently awarded a 5-year EPA grant to support clinician training in pesticide diagnosis and management and is an author of the one worker-focused chapter in the EPA’s Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings. Ms. Liebman is also an active and enthusiastic member of the OHS Section.

 

LaMont Byrd is also a recipient of the 2011 Lorin Kerr Award for Activism. Mr. Byrd is Director of Safety and Health for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, for whom he has worked for more than 20 years. Under his leadership, the Department of Health and Safety has expanded significantly. In just the past 10 years, over 50,000 Teamsters workers, in addition to other non-union workers and community partners, have benefited from the health and safety training offered by the Teamsters. Mr. Byrd is actively involved in providing technical and regulatory support to rank-and-file Teamsters members, IBT Trade Divisions, and Local Union Affiliates on issues related to transportation safety and ergonomics. He continues to demonstrate his committment to improving the health and lives of workers across the country by ensuring that they areadequately trained to recognize and control potential hazards and reduce hazardous exposures.

 

Barbara Rahke is the recipient of the 2011 Tony Mazzocchi Award for Grassroots Organizing. Ms. Rahke is  the director of the Philadelphia Area Committee on Occupation Safety and Health, or Philaposh, and has brought tremendous energy and organizing skills to make Philaposh a leading safety activist organization. Ms. Rahke came to safety and health activism after being an acclaimed organizer for the UAW. She has brought skill and professionalism to the COSH movement, the family support movement and to the broader worker health and safety movement. She has positioned Philaposh to be the cutting edge of COSH groups by developing a program for residential construction workers, and has developed alliances with OSHA, union, community and management groups to make this program work. Her passion and attention to detail have and will continue to inspire others to organize for health and safety.

 

This year’s awardees will be honored on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 at APHA's Annual Meeting, as part of the OHS Section’s Awards Luncheon at the Washington Convention Center. For tickets and more information, please contact the individuals listed above, or visit us online at: www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/occupational.

 

OHS Section Program 2011

The APHA Annual Meeting is approaching, and we invite you to participate in the OHS Section Program. Take a look at our program and learn more about oral, poster and round table sessions. Join us in the various technical sessions that we have scheduled and meet colleagues and members in our social events.

Check out the full agenda or the program at-a-glance to see what's happening.

OHS Section Reception at APHA

The OHS Section is seeking assistance with the Section’s reception at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters on Sunday, Oct. 30.  The cost of having the reception is roughly $4,000.  This reception is being co-sponsored by labor unions and will include presentations by workers and labor representatives. The Section’s own Andrea Kidd-Taylor’s Group has been invited to sing.  Please look at your organization’s budgets and see what you can contribute to a fun time.

 

Contact Darryl Alexander at dalexand@aft.org or (202) 393-5674 for more information.

APHA 2011 Midyear Meeting

by Walter Jones

 

More than 600 public health professionals gathered in Chicago June 23-25 for the APHA 2011 Midyear Meeting, which focused on "Implementing Health Reform: A Public Health Approach."  For much of the meeting, attendees discussed ways to protect and defend the threatened Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, as an occupational health and safety activist, I found the presentations on framing arguments for progressive change the most interesting and maddening.   

According to the presenters, many progressives believe that if we could just educate our opponents, the facts would win out. Unfortunately, facts matter much less than we'd like to believe. It was suggested that we need to stop framing the argument in terms of being logical but in terms of raising emotions. It was also suggested that we need to remember that large parts of America still believe in rugged individualism and therefore personal responsibility has to be part of any public health message on social determinants of health, if we want to reach a wider audience. We must continually hammer home our message in terms of our values and what it means to be American. It's not clear to me whether this tactic will work, but it was supported by mounds of polling data and focus group results.

Kim Krisberg wrote a fantastic summary for the Pump Handle, Speaking Our Values: Thoughts from the 2011 APHA Midyear Meeting, which expresses my feelings from the meeting, as well.   http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2011/07/speaking_our_values_thoughts_f.php

A Fence at the Top of a Cliff or an Ambulance at the Bottom?

by Dorothy Wigmore

Occupational health specialist - Worksafe

 

 

Preventing workplace deaths, injuries, illnesses and diseases protects workers. Ensuring workers’ health and safety also benefits their employers and communities.

 

Worksafe’s just-released report, Prevention pays: Solutions to help workers and businesses thrive makes the links visible.

 

It tallies the costs – human, financial and social – of failures to protect workers’ health and safety on the job. It profiles innovative solutions from different sectors, and offers a range of common-sense recommendations to keep workers healthy and safe, help employers succeed and support the communities depending on them both. The focus is on California, where the health and safety advocacy organization is based. The stories and arguments for prevention transcend geography.

 

Prevention is not about “controlling” a hazard, so it’s still there. Prevention means avoiding harm. It’s the public health goal of the most effective solutions – ones that protect the most people by preventing or eliminating hazards. The triangle (below) summarizes these principles.

 

 

In workplaces, much time is spent debating if something “must” be done, rather than using the evidence that prevention pays. As the report says:

"It’s time to shift from a focus on “the problem” and how bad it is, to a prevention framework that emphasizes solutions and “fixing” problems. It’s time to make the goal clearer by using the word “prevention” instead of “controls.” It’s time to use the word “health” along with “safety.” It’s time to make the rewards of prevention more consistent, wide-ranging, and initiated by more employers and workers."

 

Critics often say that health and safety reforms hurt employers.  Prevention pays demonstrates that the exact opposite is true. As one source says:

"Businesses (in the United States) spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses – expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today’s business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red."

 

In California, the costs are at least 1.4 percent of the approximately $1.82 trillion in the state gross product for 2009. The report uses available data to show:

·       The 6,632 work-related fatalities reported in [the state] between 1992 and 2002 cost $5.4 billion alone, in direct and indirect costs. Those are just immediate injuries that led to death. The costs of occupational disease, injuries, and illnesses – which shorten and change lives – are estimated to be at least $20.7 billion a year.

·       More recently, almost two million workers in the state are injured and made ill every year.

·       Death claimed nearly 8,000 more workers a year—7,079 from illnesses and 660 from injuries (illness work-related deaths include lung and heart diseases, cancers, etc.).

·       The combination of occupational injuries and diseases costs California at least $20.7 billion each year in lost wages and productivity, health care, administrative, and other costs.

·       This includes almost $294 million that it costs employers to restaff, train and deal with other disruptions.

 

The numbers are impressive and sobering. Some employers already recognize the hazards behind them. With workers, their unions and other advocates, businesses in a variety of sectors have improved how their workplaces function. For example, they have:

·       made ergonomic improvements that increase productivity while saving money and avoiding harm to workers;

·       eliminated toxic chemicals and therefore the expenses for protective gear and pollution control equipment; and

·       used research to practice (R2P) processes to identity hazardous work and develop alternative methods and tools.

 

The over-arching conclusion is hard to miss. As the director of Corporate Health Solutions for Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana noted,

"It is better to put a fence at the top of a cliff than an ambulance at the bottom. Companies are so bottom-line driven, prevention can be a hard sell, but it is always a better solution."

 

This is true for the workers whose lives, bodies and livelihoods are on the line. It’s just as true for the companies who employ them, and the communities counting on both.

 

Worksafe is always looking for stories about how prevention pays. Please pass yours along to dwigmore@worksafe.org. To learn more about Worksafe itself, see www.worksafe.org.

OHS Section Policy Featured in PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute

by Amy Liebman

 

OHS members Amy K. Liebman, MPA, and Matthew Keifer, MD, MPH, participated in Physicians for Social Responsibility Environmental Health Policy Institute (August 2011). They were among several contributors who were asked to address the question: How does our nation’s reliance on pesticides affect the health of those who plant and harvest our food?

 

Liebman and Kiefer contributed to the discussion with a piece entitled, Advocating for Policy Change to Require Clinical Diagnostic Tools and Biomonitoring of Exposures to Pesticides, in which they address the APHA policy process and highlight the OHS Section’s recent policy on biomonitoring. We welcome comments to the article and encourage others to share their success in using APHA policies in their advocacy efforts or to highlight the OHS Section’s activist efforts.  Many thanks to OHS member Mary Miller for reviewing this article.  

 

Envisioning and Achieving a Safer Chemicals Future

by Craig Slatin

 

A forthcoming special issue of New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, slated for publication in late fall 2011, advances a bold new vision and approach to solving the problem of toxic chemicals and their adverse impacts. Through a collection of 12 articles, this issue brings together leading voices from academia, labor, environmental and public health organizations, and businesses to highlight the widely agreed-upon need for the development and use of safer chemicals in our modern society. The authors illustrate how forward-thinking organizations are already successfully working toward this objective by changing policy, shifting markets, building new coalitions and transforming science. 

 

Articles in this issue will include:


 

·    Envisioning and Achieving a Safer Chemicals Future, Jessica N. Schifano

·    Chemicals Policies for the Future, Ken Geiser

·    Precautionary Policies in Local Government:  Green Chemistry and the Promotion of Safer Alternatives, Debbie O. Raphael and Chris A. Geiger

·    The Drive for a Safer Chemical Policy in the United States, Michael E. Belliveau

·    Business and Advocacy Groups Create a Roadmap for Safer Chemicals:  The BizNGO Principles for Chemicals Policy, Mark S. Rossi, Beverley Thorpe, and Cheri Peele

·    The Business Case for Transitioning to Safer Chemicals, Roger McFadden

·    Civil Society Actions for a Toxics Free Future, Joe DiGangi

·    Chemicals Policy in the 2008-2009 President’s Cancer Panel Report, Richard Clapp

·    Designation of Higher Hazard Substances Under the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA):  Lessons From the First Four Years (2007-2010), Rachel I. Massey, Heather Tenney, and Elizabeth Harriman

·    Systematic Promotion of Substitution of Hazardous Chemicals on an International Level – The Approach of the European Project “SUBSPORT”, Lothar Lissner and Dolores Romano

·    The Science of Green Chemistry and its Role in Chemicals Policy and Educational Reform, Amy S. Cannon and John C. Warner

Call for Papers: New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Volume 22, Issue 3

New Solutions seeks high quality manuscripts for a special issue dedicated to worker health and safety training and education. Manuscripts will be accepted until Dec. 28, 2011. Accepted papers will be published November 2012. Authors should address the occupational/environmental health policy implications of their research. Submitted manuscripts should reflect the authors' most current work.

 

Potential topic areas of interest include:

 

·    Successful and innovative models of worker health and safety training that help workers to play a meaningful role in setting health and safety policies and practices in the workplace. These should include discussions of barriers or obstacles encountered in the development and delivery of training, and also workers’ ability to apply in the workplace what they learned in the training.

·    Examples of worker empowerment as a result of the training, as well as evidence of how and why the goal of worker empowerment through training and education may be difficult to achieve.

·    Models of training to engage workers (including immigrant workers), community members, and environmentalists to build capacity for improved environmental public health (including the work environment).

·    Successes or difficulties with models where worker health and safety training and education is integrated with other important subjects in the curricula, such as labor, economic, or social policies

·    Innovative training and education programs to prepare non-English speaking populations to respond to hazardous materials incidents and natural disasters in their communities and workplaces.

·    Discussions of the legal supports for health and safety training – at the federal and state levels – particularly looking at how state and federal laws influence workplace policies and practices.

·    Innovative evaluation of health and safety training and education, and how the evaluation can be used to shape occupational and environmental health policies. These would include discussions of successes in overcoming obstacles to evaluating health and safety training programs.

·    The differences between worker training and worker education – and effective ways to integrate these efforts.

See http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/new_solutions_callforpapers.html for more information.

OHS is on Facebook!

The Occupational Health and Safety Section of APHA would like to invite you to join the section'Facebook community by "liking" the new OHS Section page

 

We are currently adding content to this page, and in particular, we'd like to provide a place for students and new OHS professionals to network and share valuable information. Feel free to post information and questions to the Wall and feel free to suggest content and links that would make the page more valuable to the OHS community!

Let APHA Host your Public Health Career Day at the Annual Meeting

Employers, this is your opportunity to meet thousands of public health professionals and qualified candidates for hire. Job seekers, here is your chance to market your resume, meet recruiters and sign up for a professional career coaching session, either an individual or group session. Advance your public health career and find new prospects with APHA’s Public Health CareerMart. Find out more  http://www.apha.org/about/careers/am_careers2011.htm.

Public Health and Equity Principles for Transportation

APHA has recently released a list of 10 Public Health and Equity Principles for Transportation (http://www.apha.org/advocacy/priorities/issues/transportation/transport_principles.htm ). These policies recognize the various impacts that transportation policies can have on public health — they can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, asthma, obesity and mental health disorders — especially on vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the poor and individuals with disabilities. We believe that if transportation policies are reviewed and evaluated with these principles in mind, we will be better able to ensure that health and equity are well-represented. By holding transportation policies to a stated set of standards, we can encourage a transportation system that supports health, and direct funds to programs that improve health, equity and well-being. It is essential that other organizations — at the national, state and local level — demonstrate their support for these principles by joining us as signatories. Please sign on here (http://www.apha.org/advocacy/priorities/issues/transportation/form_principles.htm ) to show your organization’s support for these essential principles.

PHACT: Call for Federal Public Health Funds at Work in Your State

In addition to attending town hall meetings this year, APHA would like for you to share a story about why public health funding is important in your community or state. Preferably, the funding would come from one of these three sources:

 

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2.  Health Resources and Services Administration

3.  Prevention and Public Health Fund

 

Examples can provide:

 

·    An approximate estimate of the amount of the funding received

·    Location of the program (City, state)

·    A summary of the program/intervention (PH issue and intervention being used)

·    Any examples of positive outcomes to date

 

Make all submission to http://www.apha.org/advocacy/tips/stories.htm or email us at phact@apha.org

 

Thanks for taking action to protect public health!

Drexel University Online

APHA is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Drexel University Online. Under this program, APHA members and their families are eligible for special tuition discounts of up to 25 percent when they enroll in any of Drexel’s online courses.  Drexel University Online offers a wide range of courses in a flexible online format, including CEPH-accredited programs in biostatistics and epidemiology. Please see the APHA partnership page for more details (http://www.drexel.com/APHA ).

Any agreement entered into between Drexel University Online and an APHA member, employee or family member, is with Drexel University Online and not with APHA.  APHA does not endorse any products or services displayed or referred to in conjunction with this partnership and is not responsible for the actual content of Drexel University Online programs.

APHA’s Public Health Buyer’s Guide Links Users to Industry Products

http://publichealthbuyersguide.com  is designed specifically for public health professionals, allowing easy search of vendors from a link on the APHA website’s home page, www.apha.org. Within the Public Health Buyer's Guide, public health professionals will be able to easily locate products and services unique to our industry without the clutter of general Internet search engine results.

APHA Annual Meeting

From Oct. 29 – November 2, 2011 join us in Washington, D.C., for the APHA 139th Annual Meeting and Exposition. Our section will have a strong presence at the meeting. View the sessions sponsored by our section by visiting the interactive Online Program (http://apha.confex.com/apha/139am/webprogram/start.html ). Search the program using keyword, author name or date. Don’t forget to stop by our new Section and SPIG Pavilion (Booth 3073) in the Public Health Expo next to Everything APHA. For more information about the Annual Meeting visit www.apha.org/meetings/AnnualMeeting.

Check out APHA’s Advocacy Track at This Year’s Annual Meeting

APHA will host a one-day advocacy track of sessions during the 2011 Annual Meeting in D.C. on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, and all APHA members are encouraged to attend to sharpen their public health advocacy skills. For more detailed information regarding the particular sessions, refer to the 2011 online program ( http://apha.confex.com/apha/139am/webprogram/start.html ) and enter the session number to see the list of planned speakers and topics to be covered. Attendees will be eligible for CE credit.

Ø       “Nailing your policy: Creating APHA’s policy buddy system,” Session 3007.0, 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m.

Ø       “Media Advocacy: Breaking through the crowded news cycle,” Session 3119.0, 10:30 a.m.

Ø       “The Who, What & How of Advocacy,” Session 3216.0, 12:30-2 p.m.

Ø       “Mobilizing a public health campaign,” Session 3318.0, 2:30-4 p.m.

Ø       “The Role of Social Media in Public Health,” Session 3417.0, 4:30 p.m.

 

Win a free Annual Meeting registration!

Forward the contact information for new companies or organizations that you would like to see included as exhibitors at the Annual Meeting to Priya Bose, Meetings and Exhibits Coordinator, at priya.bose@apha.org. Anyone submitting a qualified lead for potential new exhibitors will be entered into a drawing for a free full registration. Get to know our exhibitors before the meeting on our Virtual Expo (http://www.expocadweb.com/11apha/ec/forms/attendee/indexTab.aspx )!