Occupational Health and Safety
Section Newsletter
Spring 2004

Chair's Message

David Kotelchuck, PHD, CIH
Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Track
Hunter College
Business: 212.481.4357
Fax: 212.481.5260

I’m happy to announce that APHA, at the OHS Section’s urging, has agreed to sign an amicus curiae brief on behalf of William and Alyssa Pfleging in a New York State case against IBM and others, in which the two allege that the chemicals Mr. Pfleging was exposed to at the IBM plant in Fishkill, N.Y., caused serious birth defects to his daughter Alyssa, born in 1974. In particular the APHA brief relates only to one aspect of the case -- namely an appeal of an earlier New York State court decision which banned this suit because the allegation that the father brought harmful chemicals home on his clothing and in his seminal fluids and thereby caused harm to his daughter in utero was not a “cognizable cause of action” in New York state. That is, New York state law, the court interpreted, does not recognize that harmful chemicals in the workplace can be brought off premises and cause harm to a worker’s family members, and hence they have no right to sue in this state! Let me give a little background to the broader case and this scientifically bizarre ruling:

On March 28, 1996, seven workers from the IBM Fishkill plant in New York State filed lawsuits against IBM and four companies which supplied chemicals to the plant, alleging that their exposures caused cancers to them and severe birth defects to their children.

The New York Times led off its article about the case that day by describing how in 1988 Miriam Nicole Sanders, James Gibbons and Glenn Haight worked on an IBM production line. Four years later, Sanders was dead of cancer at age 24, Gibbons, 28, had a testicular tumor and Haight, 26, was fighting cancer.

Later about 200 others from IBM Fishkill brought suit, as well as employees and former employees from IBM plants in San Jose, Calif. and Rochester, Minn. Most are represented by the California law firm of Alexander, Hawes and Audet, as well as local counsel.

Many of the cases, especially those against the chemical companies, have been settled out of court, for undisclosed sums of money and with no admission of guilt by the defendants. For example the family of Zachary Ruffing, born blind and with other severe birth defects, and with both parents former IBM employees, settled in 2001. (NY Times, 10/13/03)

Seven years later (!), the first of these cases went to court in San Francisco, and as many of you know, the two plaintiffs in that lawsuit lost their case. Since in California, as in most states, workers compensation is the only remedy for work-related injuries and illnesses, the plaintiffs had the legally difficult task of proving that IBM knew that the chemicals they were using caused cancers and chose to cover up this information. One of the key pieces of evidence for this allegation was an epidemiological analysis of IBM’s Corporate Mortality File, in which it had recorded deaths of company employees from 1970-2000. This analysis, carried out by Dr. Richard Clapp of Boston University (a long-time APHA member), showed rates for some cancers in excess of population norms. However, the judge ruled this report inadmissible under California State law, a major blow to the plaintiffs. (See also NY Times 10/13/03 and 2/27/04.)

The next of these suits will begin soon in New York State. Here the two lead defendants are father and daughter, William and Alyssa Pfleging. The father was working in the IBM plant in Fishkill when his wife gave birth to Alyssa, who was born in 1974 without limbs below her knees or elbows.

Alyssa’s case does not involve workers compensation, of course. But other serious problems highlight the difficulties in bringing a suit against a U.S. manufacturer. In order to bring their case to court, she and her father must appeal and seek to overturn a lower court ruling that in New York State parties cannot sue based on "off-premises" exposures, such as workplace exposures, which might have affected the health of children developing in utero. This is completely out of synch with what we have long known in science, and for which there is extensive scientific evidence, that environmental and occupational exposures can and do cause harm to developing fetuses. We have referred frequently over the years in our APHA resolutions, especially in our lead resolutions, to the potential harm to the fetus caused by in utero exposures. Also we are all well aware of the extensive scientific findings, such as those by Dr. Irving Selikoff and colleagues, that asbestos dust brought home by parents working in asbestos factories can and does cause harm to their family members, including their children.

The law firms in the IBM case are asking the courts to grant them leave to contest this scientifically out-of-date decision. That is why APHA input on public health science will be of great importance at this time. It seeks effectively to help put New York state laws in synch with the current state of scientific knowledge on this issue.

This action will result in APHA involvement in what is one of the important occupational and environmental legal cases of this decade, and involves us in our area of scientific expertise. I am proud that APHA has filed a brief in this case, and applaud Dr. Georges Benjamin and his staff, especially Donald Hoppert, for taking this action, and in a timely fashion.

(NOTE: In involving itself here, APHA is not asserting that the defendants
were affected by the chemicals they used in the workplace, that will be decided
in a later case. The amicus curiae brief but simply asserts that the courts in New York state must consider in utero
exposure to toxic chemicals as a possible route of harm in such cases. There is
no doubt in my mind that the scientists working for the companies being sued
would agree that in utero exposures are a recognized route exposure to the
fetus, as virtually all scientists today would.)

APHA and Section News

Update for 2004 Annual Meeting
Nov. 6-10 in Washington, D.C.

Celeste Monforton

--The OHS Section's scientific sessions and section meetings will take place in the D.C. Convention Center, not in one of the nearby hotels. All speakers and attendees will need a badge (that is, they must be registered) to enter the Convention Center. The OHS Section has 10 free "one-day passes" to offer to speakers, such as the presenters for the "Research by the Rank-and-File" session or a session featuring high school students. If you know someone who'll need a one-day pass, please contact Celeste Monforton at <eohcnm@gwumc.edu>.

--This will be the first year that LCD projectors will be stationed in the session rooms!! (No more overhead or slide projectors.)

--The OHS Section meetings formerly called "business meetings" will now be called "Section meetings." We are hoping to eliminate the impression that the meetings are only for leadership or reserved for persons with official Section business. The first Section Meeting will be on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 9:15 a.m.

--Thanks to Kathy Kirkland, Roni Neff, Marilyn Radke and Tom Wickizer for reviewing abstracts.

Nominations for Occupational Health & Safety Section Awards

Megan Roberts

Nominations for the OHS Section awards are open from now until May 15
The OHS section offers awards in 3 categories:

Alice Hamilton (1869-1970). Alice Hamilton, considered the founder of occupational health in the United States, was a tireless activist and physician who dedicated her life to improving the health and safety of workers. She was committed to science, service, and compassion. This award recognizes the life-long contributions of individuals who have distinguished themselves through a career of hard work and dedication to improve the lives of workers.

Lorin Kerr (1909 -1991). Lorin Kerr was a life-long activist and served for over 40 years as a physician for the United Mine Workers. He was dedicated to improving coal miners' and other workers' access to care,
and to attaining black lung disease compensation and prevention. This award recognizes a new activist for sustained and outstanding efforts and dedication to improve the lives of workers.

International. This award recognizes individuals with outstanding achievement in the field of occupational health and safety outside the United States.

Please send your nominations to Megan Roberts at <toosunny2c@yahoo.com> by May 15. Include the name of the nominee, the award for which s/he is nominated and ONE PARAGRAPH ONLY describing why s/he should receive the award.

New Occupational and Environmental Health APHA Policies

Karla Armenti, ScD
OHS Section Newsletter Editor

The Occupational Health & Safety and Environment Sections of APHA have recently submitted six new policies to the APHA Joint Policy Committee for comments. You may view them at:

Since many of these policies were initiated by the Environment Section, the leadership and policy group of the OHS section provided comments to ensure the inclusion of worker safety and health issues in these policies. In particular, we proposed that for Policy B-3, the work environment be a major component of our built environment, which should be built for worker safety, ergonomics, and should promote pollution prevention through the integration of designs that prevent worker injuries and illnesses as well as protect the pollution of the environment. For Policy B-4, we suggested that work environment health education be recognized and included as an essential element for all health professional education in order to focus on developing their understanding of the intricate relationships and links between community health, environmental health, and work environment health. Policy B-5 focuses on the prevention of human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) fire retardants. For this policy, the section policy committee wanted to ensure the inclusion of a provision to protect against the economic and health-related harm to chemical production workers that could suffer from job loss in the event this part of the chemical industry is eliminated. Policy B-6 affirms the necessity of a secure, sustainable, and health-protective energy policy. Again, our section would provide for protecting energy related workers against the economic and health-related harm were they to lose their jobs from implementation of the proposed policy.
Please feel free to review these and the other APHA policies at: <http://www.apha.org/private/2004_Proposed_Policies/index.htm>.
The Committee will continue to keep you updated on the development of those policies that pertain to occupational and environmental health.

APHA Drafting Letter of Support for Fernanda Giannasi

Fernanda Giannasi has been a labor inspector in Brazil for over two decades. During this time her work has brought her into contact with workers who mine and manufacture asbestos-containing products, still in widespread use in Brazil. She is a founder of ABREA, the Association of Asbestos-Exposed Workers in Brazil, and the Coordinator in Latin America of the Citizen’s Virtual Network Against Asbestos.

In 1999 she received the annual international award for her occupational health and safety work from the APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section. In 2001 she was made a Fellow of Collegium Ramazzini, a respected international organization of scholars and researchers in the field of occupational health and safety.

She is widely known in Brazil through her work in ABREA and through her public speeches and many TV and newspaper interviews. In 2001 she was a finalist for the prestigious Claudia award for Brazil’s Woman of the Year.

In 1998 she was sued by Eternit S.A., a major Brazilian asbestos company, for comments she made about the company’s treatment of ailing workers. After world-wide protests, including a letter of support from APHA, the case was dismissed and the company decided not to appeal the court’s decision. Now she is being sued for a second time: This time by former Labor Minister Almir Pazzianotto Pinto for insulting his honor, a crime under Brazilian law. Pinto supported a company union founded by Saint Gobain, a French-based multinational with major asbestos holdings in Brazil, and was publicly criticized by Giannasi after the breakdown of negotiations. She accused him of falsely listing the names of current and past asbestos workers as supporters of his union, and of other “maneuvers.”

Since the suit was initiated, her activities as a labor inspector have successively been restricted. In December 2003 she was forbidden by the Labor Ministry to inspect an asbestos cement factory in northern Brazil. Later she was told that for her own protection, she could no longer travel outside Sao Paulo to carry out inspections. In February 2004 she was officially informed by the Ministry that she could no longer participate in any labor inspections and has been restricted to her office in Sao Paulo.

Her criminal trial for offending the honor of the former Labor Minister was to have begun on Feb. 17, 2004. However, when she arrived in court, she was told that the original magistrate assigned to the case had been arrested on corruption charges (for alleged ties to organized crime in Brazil). The new presiding judge has now postponed further hearings until September 2004.

The stakes for Giannasi are high. She remains confined to her office, unable to carry out her ordinary work duties, and has recently received death threats from unknown parties. These threats take on new meaning in light of the unsolved slaying of three other labor inspectors on a public road on Jan. 28, 2004, as they were going to investigate a soybean plantation allegedly using slave labor. (In the interior of Brazil, these inspectors are routinely accompanied by armed federal guards, but in a cost-cutting measure such protections have been withdrawn recently.) Also, Giannasi has had to bear the legal costs of both trials herself; she has had no financial support from the Ministry in which she works.

Members of the OHS Section of APHA, who know and remember Giannasi from her visit to the United States in 1999 to receive our section award, have as individuals been sending letters and e-mail to Brazil in her support. She has also received letters of support from Collegium Ramazzini, many major British labor leaders, and seven members of the British Parliament, who have introduced a so-called early morning motion to bring attention to her case. There has been relatively little public discussion of her case in the United States, and the leaders and members of our Section believe a letter of support from APHA will be timely and most helpful.

NOTE 4/26/04: APHA is currently drafting a letter of support for Fernanda.


Note to OHS Section members:

For further information on Giannasi’s case, you can go to the Web site of the London-based International Ban Asbestos Secretariat <www.ibas.btinternet.co.uk>. Also for an international perspective on production and use of asbestos worldwide and its impact, see Joseph LaDou’s current article in Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2004, pp.285-90.

Help the China Labor Support Network

Garrett Brown

Betty Szudy

We are writing to ask you to make a donation to help support the work of a new labor rights organization based in southern China, called the China Labor Support Network (CLSN). This group was recently founded by Juliana So, a longtime workers’ rights advocate whom many of you met in November 2003 at the APHA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The China Labor Support Network is establishing a workers’ support center in China’s Pearl River Delta, where there are more than 40 million migrant workers employed by transnational corporations in huge factories. The Network will focus on three key areas: 1) designing and conducting training for women organizers on occupational health and safety and participatory training techniques; 2) promoting occupational health and safety through delivery of awareness trainings to workers and establishment of an occupational health resource library; and 3) facilitating ongoing support groups for workers who have been seriously injured on the job and/or disabled by occupational disease.

The work of the China Labor Support Network is invaluable. Many young workers in southern China factories have lost fingers or limbs as the result of serious industrial accidents. Others have developed occupational diseases as a result of exposure to chemicals like benzene and toluene. Establishing an organization that will offer practical support and services for workers who are injured, as well as conducting prevention training, is critical at this time of rapid factory expansion in China.

Juliana So has already raised “seed money” that has allowed her to begin the work of the new organization. She has established a governing board of occupational health educators and others who will oversee the fundraising and operation of the project. She now needs additional funds to recruit and hire organizing staff and build the resources of the organization.

Juliana previously worked for four years with the Chinese Working Women Network, where she coordinated the “Women’s Health Express,” a mobile working women’s service center that traveled throughout the Pearl River Delta providing information and training to young women in factories. Her commitment to occupational health and improving the lives of women workers was recently honored by APHA. She received the International Activist award from the association’s Occupational Health and Safety Section at last fall’s annual conference.

Many of you have generously supported the work of southern China NGO’s in the past. We are asking you again to take out your checkbook and write a check to help expand the work of the China Labor Support Network. Your contribution in the amount of $35, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford, is tax-deductible and will help bring vital information and services to thousands of young working women in China.
Please make your check out to the “New Ways to Work Foundation” (IRS: #94-2835779 and California: #1098796), and mail it to P.O. Box 124, Berkeley, CA 94701-0124. If you can send your donation by May 1st, it will help ensure the summer programs begin as planned.

On behalf of Juliana So, the China Labor Support Network, and the young workers in southern China that they will assist, we thank you in advance for your support.


Betty Szudy, Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley
Garrett Brown, Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network
Pam Tau Lee, Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley

Featured Articles by Ellen Rosskam of the ILO

Update on International Work – Two Special Articles by Ellen Rosskam of the International Labour Organization

Ellen Rosskam, PhD, MPH

Senior Work Security Specialist
InFocus Programme on Socio-Economic Security
International Labour Office
4, Route des Morillons,
CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel. Direct: +41-22-799-8815
Fax: +41-22-799-7123
E-mail: <Rosskam@ilo.org>
Web sites:

Airport Check-In Work: Consequences for Worker Health and Management Practices

We investigated work-related hazards among airport check-in workers, demonstrating that exposures can be damaging to workers and detrimental to employers. The study has implications for organizational change, and for generating improvements for workers. The impact of check-in work on workers can vary, depending on the design of the check-in counter and baggage handling systems. Fully computerized processing of passenger tickets with work performed in a fixed sitting or standing posture involves health hazards similar to other jobs with fixed postures. Work-related factors presenting musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk among check-in workers involve: fixed and constrained postures; repetitive and sometimes forceful hand movements; an externally imposed pace of work; and a high work pace. Where check-in workers manually lift and carry every piece of baggage checked in, the workload and risk for MSD is similar to industrial workplaces involving heavy manual lifting. Fully mechanized baggage handling systems are meant to eliminate manual lifting. But frequent bending, twisting, squatting, and other awkward and full-body motions cause fatigue and create injury risk. Check-in workers receive no training in OSH, prevention, safe lifting technique, or workstation design options, nor are they hierarchically structured to be able to discuss options easily with management.


The frequency of violence experienced by check-in workers at three airports in two countries is significant and consistent with the risk of violence in other service sector jobs. Violence from disruptive passengers exists as verbal abuse, threats and/or physical assault. One in 20 check-in workers in our study population (5.3 percent) was physically assaulted on the job by aggressive passengers, 80 percent (8 out of 10 workers) were exposed to verbal abuse from passengers, and nearly half of the workers reported violence as a substantial risk factor at their jobs. Check-in work is characterized as low status, high demand/low control, involving repetitive tasks, yet with scope for enlarging workers’ roles. Objective working conditions are not alone in contributing to adverse outcomes in worker populations, particularly in the case of stress-induced health effects.

MSDs are prevalent and severe among airport check-in workers, and may lead to temporary or permanent disability. Over half the workers experienced neck pain and shoulder pain, one out of two workers lives with lower back pain, nearly 16 percent lost work time due to neck pain, and nearly 20 percent lost work time due to lower back pain. Check-in workers perform their job functions despite significant neck, shoulder and/or back pain. Nearly three-fourths experienced neck pain that interfered with the ability to work, over half had lower back pain that interfered with sleep, and over 70 percent had neck pain that interfered with sleep. Tagging, lifting, carrying, or generally handling baggage appears to be sufficient to cause injury and MSD-related pain. MSDs are more prevalent and severe among check-in workers than revealed in employers’ official work-related injury records. Seventy-seven percent of respondents live with pain from MSDs in up to eight different sites on their bodies. Costs to employers from sickness absence and decreased productivity are direct and measurable. Indirect costs to workers and employers are more difficult to measure, but MSDs are shown to cause disruption to non-work related activities. Worker participation, effective use of worker voice, participatory ergonomics, or establishing changes in working conditions through participatory approaches involving both workers and managers, are demonstrated as reducing MSDs and improving overall workplace health and safety.

Managers are generally unaware of workers’ adaptive abilities, responding to changing demands in the workplace and finding solutions to problems as they arise. We tried to show that management practices excluding workers from decision-making lead to MSDs, among other health problems, by creating stress, and by leaving human ego needs unsatisfied. Involving workers in decision-making brings long-term benefits to organizations, through continuous work environment improvements. Benefits to employers and workers could be generated through the involvement of check-in workers in organizational decision-making. This study has put forth detailed solutions and recommendations for management, workers and trade unions to improve check-in workers’ jobs and to prevent stress and violence facing check-in workers.
A published report of the study “The Insecurities of Service: Airport Check-in Workers” is available in PDF format at <www.ilo.org/ses>.


1) Smith, M. 1997. Psychosocial aspects of working with video display terminals (VDTs) and employee physical and mental health. Ergonomics, 40(10), 1002-1015.
2) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1994. Participatory ergonomic interventions in meatpacking plants, NIOSH, US Department of Health and Human Services, NIOSH Publication No. 94-124.
3) Jensen, P. 1997. Can participatory ergonomics become the way we do things in this firm - The Scandinavian approach to participatory ergonomics. Ergonomics, 40(10), 1078-1087.
4) National Academy of Sciences, 1998. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A review of the evidence, Washington, DC.
5) Briefing document by the MSD ad hoc group drafting group of the tripartite EU Advisory Committee on safety, hygiene and health at work (‘the Luxemburg Committee’), Luxemburg, May 2001.
6) Kogi, K. and Sen, R. N. 1987. Third world ergonomics. International Reviews of Ergonomics, vol. 1, 77-118.
7) Bohr, P.C., et al. 1997. Implementing participatory ergonomics teams among health care workers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 32, 190-196.
8) Nagamachi, M. 1993. Participatory ergonomics: a unique technology of ergonomics science. (in The ergonomics of manual work: proceedings of the International Ergonomics Association conference on ergonomics of manual handling and information processing at work, Taylor & Francis, London, 41-48.
9) Carnevale, D., and Rios, JM. 1995. How employees assess the quality of physical work settings. Public Productivity and Management Review, 18(3).
10) Forester, J. 1989. Planning in the face of power. University of California Press, Berkeley, (in Carnevale, D., and Rios, JM, 1995).

Barefoot Research: Improving Working Conditions And Workers’ Security In Developing Countries

Involving workers in identifying and solving problems in the workplace, as a philosophical base for research, was explored in the educational pedagogy of Paulo Freire. Validating and making use of adults’ knowledge and experience can be transformative and empowering to a point where collective problem-solving is initiated. These principles apply to research on workplace problems, which are part of a complex system of organizational, economic, political, sociological and psychological contributing factors, to which workers can bring significant benefits. The Barefoot Research approach emphasizes translating research into means for improving people’s lives. The approach recognizes that adults learn best through images and concepts that relate to their everyday reality. They know best what their problems are and, collectively, can generate solutions applicable to their life situations. In the workplace, workers know how the job affects them, although their knowledge and experience may have to be brought out and validated. Workers are an important source of information, and they are more likely to “buy into” solutions when involved in the process. For lasting change to take place, workers’ involvement in identifying and solving problems is key.

Involving workers in identifying design problems and solutions can benefit enterprises. Use of workers’ voice, participatory ergonomics, and establishing changes in working conditions with the involvement of both workers and employers is key to reducing musculoskeletal disorders, improving overall workplace health and safety, improving productivity, and decreasing costs associated with ill health and accidents.

Barefoot Research to Improve Working Conditions and Workers’ Security

Barefoot Research techniques are simple tools for workers to use at the workplace to collect information about problems experienced by workers, and to translate the findings into action for change. Workers act as researchers, without the need for sophisticated equipment or trained experts. Conducting Barefoot Research gives dignity and respect to life, by using simple methods to protect workers’ lives and improve working conditions, which protects families, neighborhoods, villages and communities.

Information collected through Barefoot Research is used in identifying problems, developing a collective consciousness among workers, providing solutions, and bargaining with employers to improve conditions in the workplace. Barefoot Research can generate information that is difficult for employers, inspectors or enforcement representatives to ignore, providing some protection against reprisal, empowering and building confidence in workers, building trade union strength for bargaining through collective action by workers, publicizing results, and organizing workers around their health where a collective body does not exist.

Barefoot Research Tools
Finding out is the first stage, and making change the second. Barefoot Research tools involve looking at the workplace, listening to workers, and placing value on workers’ opinions. Techniques include inspections by workers, surveys of workers, small group discussions with workers, mapping techniques (body mapping, hazard mapping, “Your World” mapping), interviewing workers, and observation of work tasks.

Translating Research into Action
Taking action with the findings of Barefoot Research can be done verbally, with pictures, with maps, by written report, by prioritizing actions with workers, using the law, using collective strength, negotiating with management, using health and safety committees, by collective agreements, using grievance/dispute procedures, working with government inspectors, using the media, and by working with worker friendly networks.

Barefoot Research is a means to use workers’ voices to communicate experience, the limitations of protective measures, the impact those limitations have upon workers’ lives, and the changes needed to protect health. With tools to organize, workers can tackle income and employment issues, improve working conditions, and increase voice representation. Workers around the world have repeatedly shown that Barefoot Research is a powerful mechanism for learning, understanding, organizing and change.

1) Freire, P. 1970. Pedagogy of the oppressed, Continuum Press, New York.
2) Freire, P. 1973. Education for critical consciousness, Continuum Press, New York.
3) Snook, S. 1993. The practical application of ergonomics principles. Minesafe International.
4) Hecker, S. (ed.). 1998. Management and policy: introduction and overview to education and training. In Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety – 4th Edition, International Labour Office, Geneva, vol. 1, ch. 18, 2-4.
5) Kogi, K. and Sen, R. N. 1987. Third world ergonomics. International Reviews of Ergonomics, vol. 1, 77-118.
6) Messing, K. 1998. One-eyed science: occupational health and women workers, Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
7) Rosskam, E. 2000. Women moving mountains: Women workers in occupational safety and health. Women & Environment International Journal, no. 48/49, University of Toronto.
8) Wallerstein, N. and Weinger, M. 1992. Health and safety education for worker empowerment. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 22, 619-635.
9) Deutsch, S. 1989. Worker learning in the context of changing technology and work environment. In Leymann, H. and Kornbluh, H. (eds.), Learning at work: A new approach to the learning process in the workplace and society, Gower
10) Abrams, H. 1983. The worker as teacher. Commentary in American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 4, 759-768.
11) Smith, M. 1997. Psychosocial aspects of working with video displays terminals (VDTs) and employee physical and mental health. Ergonomics, 40(10), 1002-1015.
12) Jensen, P. 1997. Can participatory ergonomics become the way we do things in this firm - The Scandinavian approach to participatory ergonomics. Ergonomics, 40(10), 1078-1087.
13) National Academy of Sciences. 1998. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A review of the evidence, Washington, DC.
14) Briefing document by the MSD ad hoc group drafting group of the tripartite EU Advisory Committee on safety, hygiene and health at work (‘the Luxemburg Committee’). 2001, Luxemburg.
15) Keith, M., Brophy, J., Kirby, P., and Rosskam, E. 2002. Barefoot Research: A workers’ manual for organising on work security. International Labour Office, Geneva.

"BAREFOOT Research: A Worker’s Manual for Organizing on Work Security" is available, free of charge, in hard copy and CD ROM, and in PDF format on the website from the International Labour Office, Socio-Economic Security Programme, email: <ses@ilo.org>; tel.41.22.799. 8893; fax: 41.22.799.7123; Web: <www.ilo.org/ses>. The manual exists in English and Turkish. Numerous other translations are planned for 2004.


CDC Boosts External Research to Protect Americans' Health


Division of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road, MS D-25
Atlanta, GA 30333
404.639.7394 (fax)

(April 27, 2004) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces that it is committing almost $30 million in new funding to support innovative public health research aimed at further promoting and protecting the health of Americans, with an immediate focus on producing a body of evidence that will help employers make better choices in wellness programs. The CDC's new Health Protection Research Initiative aims to strengthen public health research by encouraging more individuals and institutions to engage in research that will result in measurable improvements in public health. The availability of funds was published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on April 23, 2004.

The first element of this new research initiative targets projects that will provide employers with the evidence they need to promote the health of their workforce. CDC has found employers need more science-based evidence to choose the best options among various benefit programs and workplace health promotion programs. This part of the new initiative is not intended to address occupational health and safety issues but to focus on broad health promotion.

"We know that there are many steps that all Americans, including workers, can take to protect their health, such as not smoking, making healthier food choices, and staying active," said Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "This new initiative will help us to better understand just how effective these steps are and what else can be done to help more Americans make these kinds of healthier choices."

CDC expects projects designed to affect health in the workplace will have a positive economic and health impact. For example, with more than 60 percent of U.S. adults being overweight or obese, the direct and indirect costs of diabetes were estimated at nearly $132 billion in 2002, and annual U.S. medical expenditures attributed to obesity are estimated at $93 billion in 2002 dollars. The economic cost of obesity to business, including health, life and disability insurance and paid sick leave by private sector firms was estimated to be at least $15.4 billion in 2002.

For this purpose CDC will dedicate up to $14 million to support 20 to 40 grants. Grant applications will go through an external peer-review process to gauge their effectiveness in responding to the intent of the research initiative. Applications are open to researchers affiliated with public or private academic or research institutions, eligible agencies of the federal government, units of state or local government, and health care organizations.

"This initiative is a very positive step in our efforts to promote better health in America. Despite our best efforts to date, we do not yet have the research to tell us the best ways to combat a large proportion of health risks. With this new program, CDC is investing in closing the gaps in our knowledge so that we can move toward a time when all people will achieve their expected life span with the best possible quality of health," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.

Two additional blocks of funds are aimed at expanding training to increase the number of individuals and institutions involved in public health research. Up to $10 million will support development of a corps of independent, public health researchers to address national public health priorities. And up to $4 million is targeted to support institutions of higher learning to develop training programs that will prepare highly qualified scientists to lead innovative public health research in the future.

An additional $1 million has been allocated to establish a Center for Excellence in Health Promotion Economics. This new academic research center would apply economic theory and methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health protection programs in priority areas.

Through this initiative, CDC hopes to engage dozens of new researchers in understanding the nation's most compelling public health problems and in developing and evaluating effective solutions that will lead to measurable improvements in health promotion and protection.

"Public health research is the essential step to translate scientific findings into the kinds of health actions that employers and individuals alike will be willing to take to improve their health and better protect themselves from emerging infectious, environmental and terrorist threats," Dr. Gerberding said.

"We know a great deal, but we need to know more, and we need to increase the pace with which we develop programs that work. This research funding is designed to engage more people in this crucial effort," she said.

Research proposals for the workplace and individual training components are due June 21, while applications for the institutional training and health economics components are due June 22. Awards are expected to be made in September 2004.

Reprinted from <www.cdc.gov>.

Harvard School of Public Health Courses

Intensive Course in Health and Human Rights
Learn How to Incorporate a Human Rights Framework into Your Professional Activities

June 21 – 24, 2004 • Boston

This rigorous four-day program will help participants acquire the skills and knowledge they need to successfully incorporate a realistic human rights framework into their daily activities.

Participants will acquire a basic understanding of both the history and present status of international human rights and international humanitarian law as they apply to public health practice.

The faculty will show participants how to:
  • Analyze the human rights dimensions of public health policies and programs; and

  • Access international mechanisms and procedures to further the human rights of persons
    whose health status is threatened.

  • Small group settings will provide further opportunity for direct interaction with the faculty and with your fellow participants. Repeated offerings allow attendance at more than one session of interest. The individualized attention offered in the Intensive Course in Health and Human Rights will help you formulate your strategy for implementing newly acquired knowledge and skills in your professional work as well as provide invaluable networking support.

    For more information or to register, visit <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ccpe/programs/ICHH.shtml>. Please be sure to include the Reference Code ICHH04-OHS in all correspondence.

    Comprehensive Industrial Hygiene: Practical Applications of Basic Principles
    Harvard School of Public Health
    June 21 - 25, 2004 • Boston

    Recognized industry-wide for having benefited thousands of professionals and technicians, this program will provide participants with the key principles of industrial hygiene practice needed by professionals and technologists with direct or managerial responsibility for industrial hygiene programs.

    Participants Will Learn How To:
  • Identify potential hazards in the workplace;

  • Select methods for the assessment of exposures to hazards;

  • Evaluate consequences of excessive exposure; and

  • Institute techniques for prevention and control of occupational diseases.

  • For more information or to register, visit <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ccpe/programs/FIH.shtml>. Please be sure to include Reference Code CIH04-OHS in all correspondence.

    Analyzing Risk: Science, Assessment, and Management
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Sept. 21 - 24, 2004 • Boston

    The tools of risk assessment will play an even larger role in future public health efforts in food safety, the environment, and consumer protection. New legislation, guidelines, and Executive Order 12866 make clear that new analysis techniques and tools will be necessary for successful initiatives. Analyzing Risk: Science, Assessment, and Management will prepare participants for this new environment.

    In three and one-half days, the program will supply key skills in risk assessment, management, and communication. Participants will examine complex problems involving chemicals and radiation, discuss emerging analytic approaches, and have an opportunity to review important issues with leaders in the field.

    For more information or to register, visit <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ccpe/programs/RISK.shtml>. Please be sure to include Reference Code RISK04-OHS in all correspondence.

    Ergonomics and Human Factors: Applications in Occupational Safety and Health
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2004 • Boston

    Strengthen Your Skills Through Team-Oriented Workshops and Case Studies

    This course provides a unique perspective on ergonomics and human factors in industry, ranging from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of the low back and manual materials handling to accidents and human fatigue. Alumni of this program have found that the broad curriculum allows them to take a more comprehensive approach to workplace safety and health problems, while workshops offer them the opportunity to learn and apply skills in a multidisciplinary, team-oriented environment.

    Participants Will Learn:
  • Design of workplace ergonomics programs and team problem-solving;

  • Fundamental concepts in biomechanics and anthropometry;

  • Anatomy, physiology, and epidemiology of low back pain and upper extremity

  • Team-oriented analysis and control of risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders;

  • Impact of shift, incentive, and machine-paced work on employee performance;

  • Occupational causes and effects of error;

  • Extent and control of slip and fall injuries; and

  • Key information regarding ergonomic regulatory efforts at OSHA.

  • For more information or to register, visit: <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ccpe/programs/IE.shtml>. Please be sure to include the Reference Code EHF04-OHS in all correspondence.

    Collaborative PhD Program in Health Services Research in Occupational Safety and Health

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    A unique doctoral program is available to prepare researchers in the area of health services research with a focus on occupational safety and health issues. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health offers a collaborative PhD program in Health Services Research in Occupational Safety and Health (HSROSH). This program facilitates research and collaboration with faculty in the Department of Health Policy and Administration and the University’s Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center, as well as in University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center and Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

    Occupational health services research focuses on the organization, financing, and management of occupational health care services to assess their impact on occupational health care delivery, quality, cost, access, and outcome. The program of study requires graduate coursework, including the health policy and administration department core courses; methods courses; health services research course; occupational safety and health courses; and a minor area such as epidemiology, economics, sociology, or political science. The on-campus program is designed to be completed in four years.

    To be considered for admission, prospective students must apply to the PhD Program in Health Policy and Administration and submit an application form, supplemental application materials with personal statement indicating interest in HSROSH, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, and official report of GRE scores. Application deadline is January 1.

    Traineeships funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are available for full-time students admitted to the program. These traineeships are open only to citizens of the United States or those with permanent visa status.

    For more information about this program, visit <http://www.sph.unc.edu/hpaa/academic/doctoral.htm> or contact:
    Bonnie Rogers, (919) 966-1765, <rogersb@email.unc.edu> or Susan Randolph, (919) 966-0979, <susan.randolph@unc.edu>.

    Occupational Health & Safety Courses in the Northwest

    Kathy Hall

    The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Washington will offer a short course on Occupational hazards to health care workers May 18-20 in Vancouver, BC. The center's 2004-05 course catalog will be distributed in early May.

    For more information on the course, or to order the catalog, call (206) 543-1069 or visit the Continuing Education Web site at <http://depts.washington.edu/ehce>. Most courses will be held in Seattle and qualify for continuing education credit.

    Fellowship Available 7/1/04 -- The University of Illinois at Chicago

    The Occupational Medicine Residency Program and the Chicago Area VA/West Side Division announce the creation of a new Occupational Health Services Research Fellowship. The fellowship is available to physicians who have completed an occupational medicine residency and who are interested in a one year program designed to provide additional skills in health services research. The program includes courses at the UIC School of Public Health, analysis of primary and secondary national datasets under the mentorship of senior VA and UIC faculty and the expectation that the fellow will conduct research leading to national presentations and to peer-reviewed publication. Interested physicians should submit a letter of interest with CV and three references to:

    Dr. Linda Forst
    UIC SPH Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, MC 684
    835 S. Wolcott, MC 684
    Chicago, IL 60612

    For additional information, contact <Forst-L@uic.edu>.

    Conference News

    "Mold-Related Health Effects: Clinical, Remediation Worker Protection, and Biomedical Research Issues"

    June 28-29, 2004
    Washington Court Hotel
    Washington, D.C.

    The following partners are pleased to announce a meeting on the health effects of indoor mold exposure: the Society for Occupational and Environmental Health (SOEH); the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC); Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; Urban Public Health Program of Hunter College, CUNY; and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) - School of Public Health.

    The purpose of this cross-disciplinary meeting is to bring together experts in clinical science, worker protection and education, and basic research to further efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat conditions related to exposure to indoor mold. The goals will be to improve clinical practice and case management, more effectively protect and train remediation workers, and recommend future research directions that will lead to an evidence-based understanding of the health effects related to exposure to indoor mold.

    The meeting will benefit those professionals involved in occupational and environmental health, including occupational physicians, industrial hygienists, worker safety and health trainers, biological and environmental health scientists who are conducting research in this area, as well as those who are involved in making public health policy, including those at federal, state, and local governmental agencies.

    Those who attend may choose between two tracks for the breakout sessions:

    1) one for occupational health and safety practitioners interested in protecting remediation workers from harm; and

    2) one for both clinicians interested in improving clinical practice and case management, and environmental health research scientists interested in mold-related health effects.

    More information about the meeting, including registration information, can be found at <http://www.soeh.org/> . Registration for the two-day meeting is $175 if you register before May 31, 2004.

    J. Patrick Mastin, PhD
    Chief, Cellular, Organs, and Systems Toxicology Branch
    Division of Extramural Research and Training, NIEHS
    Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
    Phone (919) 541-3289
    Fax: (919) 541-5064

    New Books

    “The Gender Workplace Health Gap in Europe”
    by Laurent Vogel

    2003, 387 pages.
    ISBN 2-930003-49-9. 20 (Also available in French).

    Generally speaking, women's issues are absent from health and safety policies. The hazards involved are either unknown or underestimated, and priorities are defined in male-dominated sectors and occupations, and so on. This failure to take account of women's health issues in the workplace constitutes a barrier to effective policies on occupational health and equal opportunities. For several years now, the TUTB and the ETUC have been trying to incorporate gender into their workplace health and safety policy. In 2001, the TUTB and ETUC decided to carry out a survey in the 15 EU countries aiming at assessing the situation in two areas:

  • The inclusion of gender issues in health and safety policies. The aim was to ascertain the extent to which issues to do with women's health are taken into account when defining priorities, research activities and statistical data, and also the extent to which they are taken on board by the respective players and institutions.
  • Practical experiences involving health and safety actions at the workplace that take account of gender issues.
  • This book reviews the key issues addressed by the research (developments, policies and prospects) and case studies from different EU countries illustrating research action in various sectors on different categories of risks.

    For more information, visit <http://www.etuc.org/tutb/uk/publication_resume26.html>.

    Call For Journal Articles

    Call for Occupational Health and Safety Articles

    The interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal Family and Community Health is producing an entire issue on promoting workplace health and safety. Articles are due by Oct. 1, 2004, to Issue Editor Marianne Brown, UCLA LOSH-Program, at <mpbrown@ucla.edu>.

    We are soliciting articles on:
    Adolescents & Workplace Health & Safety
  • Extent of the Problem (1 article)

  • Interventions to reduce workplace injuries/illnesses in adolescents (2 articles)

  • Immigrant Workers & Workplace Health & Safety
  • Extent of the Problem (1 article)

  • Interventions to reduce workplace injuries/illnesses in immigrant workers (2 articles)

  • The impact of work-related injuries and illnesses on the family
  • Extent of the Problem (1 article)

  • Interventions to reduce impact (2 articles)

  • Impact of workplace health and safety risks on the nearby community
  • Extent of the Problem (1 article)

  • Interventions to reduce impact (2 articles)

  • The purpose of Family and Community Health (FCH) is to focus healthcare practitioners, regardless of area of practice on a common goal: to provide a forum to discuss a holistic approach to family and community healthcare and primary healthcare, including health promotion and disease prevention. Each issue of FCH focuses on a specific topic that can be used by faculty, practitioners, and students in a range of healthcare disciplines.

    FCH is indexed in the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL); Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences; Research Alert; Social SciSearch; Family Studies Database; Health Promotion and Education Database; Cancer Prevention and Control Database; Nursing Abstracts; Psychological Abstracts; PsychINFO; PsysLIT; Journals@ovid; Sociological Abstracts; Social Planning/Policy & Development Abstracts; MEDLINE; MEDLARS; and Index Medicus.

    Newsletter Information and Accessibility

    You might have noticed that the OHS section newsletters are automatically “published” online shortly after each issue’s deadline.

    The most common reason people might not be receiving this notification is that their e-mail address is not in the APHA database. You can update your member records on the APHA Web site or call the membership department at (202) 777-2400.

    Although we realize the importance of receiving the newsletter notifications, they aren't needed to access the newsletters, so members can visit the Web site at any time to view their newsletters at

    If members are still concerned they aren't receiving the notification, they can e-mail Frances Atkinson, APHA Manager of Section Affairs, at (202) 777-2483 or at <Frances.Atkinson@apha.org>.