Occupational Health and Safety
Section Newsletter
Winter 2004

Chair's Message

In preparing for this, my first column as your new Section Chairperson, I had a chance to look at some of the wrap-up, end-of-the-year actions by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and I was thoroughly disturbed by what I saw. It was a paradigm, I believe, of what OSHA has become under the Bush Administration.

On Dec. 30, 2003, OSHA, under Director John Henshaw, announced that it was dropping its rulemaking for two glycol ethers (2-ME and 2-EE) and their acetates (2-MEA and 2-EEA), better known as glycol ethers or Cellosolves. There was much concern about Cellosolves and Cellosolve acetates in the 1980s and 1990s, and studies among paint strippers and in the semiconductor industry showed evidence of serious reproductive disorders among male and female workers.

In light of OSHA’s action, what are the standards which govern workers exposed to Cellosolves? These standards are the old OSHA standards for these substances (Table Z-1), namely PEL’s of 200 ppm for 2-EE, 100 ppm for 2-EEA, 25 ppm each for 2-ME and 2-MEA, developed long before the recent reproductive studies at IBM and the Digital Equipment Corporation.

Let’s compare these to ACGIH’s current standards for these same chemicals: ACGIH has set the TLV for 2-EE at 5 ppm, a factor of 40 times smaller than OSHA’s PEL, based on 2-EE’s reproductive effects. The TLV for 2-EEA is also 5 ppm, compared to OSHA’s 100 ppm. For 2-ME and 2-MEA the TLV’s are both 5 ppm, only (!) a factor of 5 times smaller than OSHA’s PEL’s (ACGIH TLV and BEI booklet, 2001).

OSHA’s rationale for leaving these old, outdated standards in place is the “decline in production and use of ethylene glycol ethers and their acetates” (OSHA Trade Release, 12/30/03). In Henshaw’s words: “The evidence that we’ve collected, including the comments we received after reopening the record last year [my emphasis], indicates that there is little future potential exposure to the four glycol ethers because their use has largely been phased out. Based on that evidence, we’ve concluded that the rule is no longer appropriate and that we can focus our resources on regulatory efforts that will have a greater impact on workplace safety and health.”

That’s quite a shameful rationale, in my opinion. Henshaw is saying, it seems to me, that since fewer working people are using these toxic materials, we don’t need to bother lowering the standard for them – it would be an inefficient use of OSHA’s resources. But what are the potential effects to these workers? A higher rate of miscarriages (in the late 1980s a study found a 40 percent higher rate among females in the semiconductor industry), more stillbirths and birth defects among the children of these workers. Indeed this is part of the terrain for the trials now going on in the semiconductor industry – a fact Mr. Henshaw must surely be aware of.

In 1989, when the senior George Bush was President, his assistant secretary for OSHA, John Pendergrass, updated OSHA’s regulations by simply adopting wholesale the existing ACGIH standards. Why doesn’t his son, George W. Bush, do the same, through his head of OSHA? This would remove the gross disparities between the two sets of standards and give exposed workers a modicum of protection based on recent science.

By the way, how does Henshaw know that workers are not being exposed to the chemicals? Because the industrial users of these chemicals told him (see emphasis on the above Henshaw quote). Would you trust the semiconductor industry to give a reliable report today, given the lawsuits they are facing? I wouldn’t. How about a series of OSHA inspections to ascertain that the information they got was reliable? Henshaw doesn’t speak of this. He also doesn’t cite production and industrial use statistics for these chemicals, which should reflect and support his statement.

Perhaps some of our OHS members need to look into this, and into the conditions of use they have observed or were reported to them. I’d like to hear from you about the situation today with the glycol ethers on our OHS Listserve at <occ-hlth-l@liststar.apha.org>.

I’d like to hear your thoughts as well about how we can more effectively do the work that OSHA isn’t doing (and in many respects has never done) and substantively improve working conditions in some/many plants and industries in this country.

One way we can help, as so many of us know, is to help labor unions not only in their health and safety efforts, but in their ongoing efforts to survive and protect their members’ living and working conditions. Long experience tells us that it is hard to protect the health and safety of unorganized workers; workers need unions to protect, among other things, their workplace health and safety.

On this note, I’d like to bring to your attention the bitter, four-month-long strike now being conducted by 70,000 supermarket workers in Southern California over their health benefits. To find out more about the circumstances of this strike, and the major cuts being proposed by employers on these workers’ health plans (65 percent cuts in funds for new employees), do go to the United Food and Commercial Workers website <www.ufcw.org>. There you will also find a petition of support for these workers by health professionals, <http://www.ufcw.org/hold_the_line/petition_hcprof.cfm>. I signed the petition, and I hope you will as well – and pass the word on to your colleagues.

These workers have been on strike through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. They need your help. And by helping them and their union you are also helping support the fine work by their devoted UFCW health and safety staff members, who are also, I am proud to say, active members of our OHS Section.

The APHA Action Board

The American Public Health Association has an Action Board. The Action Board is comprised of representatives from each APHA section, several of the state affiliate associations (the state associations of public health), and three at large representatives. Action Board representatives are not elected, but rather they are appointed by their section and serve a three-year term. The Action Board serves the role of facilitating action by APHA members on policy issues. It helps to activate the Sections, Caucuses, Special Interest Groups (SPIGS), Affiliates, and the general membership. I am the Occupational Health and Safety Section’s Action Board representative.

This year the Action Board will continue with its efforts to support and facilitate the APHA policy development and review process. This includes the process of archiving existing policies that lack relevance other than for historic purposes. Guidelines for the policy process can be found at <http://www.apha.org/private/ppolicy.htm>. The OHS Section is one section that has taken a lead in working with APHA staff to move this process forward. Mary Miller has been coordinating our effort to review APHA’s occupational health and safety policies. Anyone interested in working on this ongoing effort is encouraged to go to the APHA policy Web site and review the policies and consider which could be revised or updated to either better address or include workers’ health and safety issues. You can contact Mary Miller by e-mail at: <marymiller@inwa.net>.

When you look at the APHA policy Web site, you will see a calendar of important dates and deadlines for each step of the policy development and review process. Two key dates to keep in mind this year are: Jan. 12, when suggestions for subject areas in need of review are due and Feb. 13, when proposed new policies are due.

In order to access the site, you will need your username and password for the "Members Only" section of the APHA Web site to view this information. If you have any questions about the information on the site, you can e-mail APHA staff at <policy@apha.org>.

The Action Board has formed three working groups based upon the priority action areas established by the APHA Governing Council and Executive Board: Access to Care, Public Health Infrastructure, and Health Disparities. The working groups are given general assignments based upon the Association’s efforts in each of these areas. Last year, each working group reviewed a set of selected policy statements related to its action area. Each then made recommendations for keeping, updating, or archiving the policies. This year’s role will continue to include support for the archiving process but also for taking political action related to the action areas.

This year, the APHA will actively promote National Public Health Week, April 4 – 11, 2004. The focus for this week of activities will be Eliminating Health Disparities. Look at APHA’s Web site, <http://www.apha.org/nphw/>, to learn about the ways that APHA is considering action related to that goal.

For National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2004, APHA will be collecting and highlighting a wide variety of innovative projects/interventions that have been implemented in communities to tackle health disparities. The Association’s goal is to inspire other people who work on public health issues and want to reduce health disparities in their communities. OHS Section members who want to take part in this effort can begin now to consider presenting occupational health and safety/workers’ health projects and interventions that have been successful in helping to reduce and/or eliminate occupational illness and injury disparities. By moving APHA to present one or two of such efforts, we could help to demonstrate that these disparities exist, that there are ways to successfully address them, and that occupational health and safety is an important aspect of public health. This would even have the potential of helping us to recruit people to our work and membership in our section. Although APHA states that it would like to highlight efforts to secure Environmental Justice, it does not list Work Environment Justice. This is a perspective that our section could promote.

Finally, OHS Section members are encouraged to regularly look at the APHA Legislation, Advocacy, and Policy Web site at: <http://www.apha.org/legislative/> . This site provides news, links to updates of APHA actions and the APHA Legislative Action Center. At the latter, you can find Action Alerts – calls for specific actions on the part of APHA members. This page also provides information about your local Congressional delegation legislative and electoral issues, and a media guide providing you contact information for media organizations, by zip code. APHA has established these links to better support successful political action by the membership.

Environment Section Meeting Report

In the spirit of fostering greater cooperation between the Occupational Health and Safety Section and the Environment Section of APHA, a group of about five OHS section members, many of them secondary members of the Environment section, attended the Environment Section’s business meeting on Wednesday night at the San Francisco APHA meeting. This business meeting was devoted largely to conference program planning for the 2004 meeting in Washington, DC. Below are some notes on the meeting.

Before beginning the discussion about future APHA Annual Meetings, the results of the APHA elections that day were announced. The group was elated that for the first time in some years, the candidates it supported for APHA officers and Executive Board won (These were essentially the same candidates the OHS Section Councilors had supported). Also, Environmental Councilors Paul Locke and David Walinga reported that all the good resolutions had passed as well, mentioning specifically the successful resolution opposing federal interference with science review panels by OHS Section member David Michaels and others.

Environment Section members were pleased with the choice of theme for the 2005 APHA conference, namely “Evidence-Based Science and Policy.” Possible keynote speakers Section members suggested included former EPA Director Carol Browner, former WHO Director-General and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Brundtland, Senator Hillary Clinton, scientist Jane Goodall, and authors Michael Lerner and Eric Schlosser.

Larger themes for 2005 which members discussed, possibly for plenary sessions, included: Workplace/Community Pollution, Evaluation of Federal Oversight of Government Regulatory Agencies, Environmental Problems and Access to Care. Participants also strongly recommended a special session on the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the Bhopal Tragedy in India, and what has been done there and here to improve chemical safety for workers and residents of surrounding communities. In these and following discussions, note was taken by the body of the presence of OHS members, and participants welcomed co-sponsorship and further participation with the OHS Section.

A variety of topics was proposed for regular conference sessions. These were listed by the meeting secretary, but in most cases not further discussed by the body. They included:
  • Environmental Health Education for various Public Health Professionals

  • Environmental Health and Economics

  • Environmental Determinants of Health Disparities

  • The Built Environment and Environmental Justice Issues

  • Community-Based Environmental Research

  • Links between Ecological and Environmental Health

  • Food Health and Safety from Farms to Forks

  • “Dropping the Ball” at the World Trade Center

  • The Retreat from an Active Governmental Role in Regulation: Will it Improve or Harm Community and Worker Protections?

  • The Impact and Implications for Health in a Deregulatory Environment

  • Attacks on Public Health Science

  • Alternatives to Petroleum

  • Use of Bioterrorism Monies

  • Medical Wastes

  • One session which was strongly endorsed at the meeting was the so-called “Talking Agency Heads” session, which is held annually and co-sponsored with the OHS Section. This session was not held at the San Francisco Annual Meeting this past year, and Environment Section members would like to resume it next year, especially since we will be meeting again in Washington. (It was understood and discussed that we may not agree with the sentiments expressed by the Agency Heads, but we should hear them and hear their plans for the future of the agencies they direct. One caveat expressed: If the Administration changes based on the outcome of the preceding week’s national Presidential elections, we should also seek to hear informally from spokespersons for the new administration.)

    Finally much sentiment was expressed for sponsoring a Continuing Education session of the Application of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) Software Programs to Public Health.

    As OHS Section members organize and develop sessions for the 2004 conference, we should keep the above topics in mind, and seek out co-participation and co-sponsorship with the Environment Section and its members.

    Update on International Work

    APHA Occupational Health Section members Betty Szudy, from the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley, and Garrett Brown, from the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network, continue to do work to build health and safety capacity among unions and non-governmental organizations in various parts of the world.

    Recent activities have included a four-day training in Antigua, Guatemala in September 2003 that involved four independent monitoring groups, three trade unions, and eight women's and human rights organizations. The participants came from four Central American countries: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Regional Initiative for Social Responsibility and Decent Work, a grouping of Central American independent monitoring and research organizations, was the sponsor of the training
    funded by the International Labor Rights Fund in Washington, DC. Guatemala's COVERCO (Comision de Verificacion de Codigos de Conducta) was the host organization, and Abby Najera was the local coordinator.

    The goal of the training was twofold: 1) to build the capacity of the independent monitoring organizations to conduct more rigorous evaluations of health and safety conditions in the maquiladora sector plants in Central America; and 2) to increase the understanding of health and safety issues among non-governmental organizations working closely with maquila workers in the region, especially in the garment and textile sector.

    In Fall, 2003 Garrett Brown and Professor Dara O'Rourke of UC Berkeley were guest editors for a special issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (October-December 2003) focused entirely on occupational health and China. Articles written by academics, occupational health professionals, and NGO activists focus on: rules and regulations in Chinese factories; occupational safety and health legislation in China; developing an action-based health and safety training
    for workers in southern China; and incentives and impediments to improving workplace conditions in China.

    The project is currently seeking funding for a part-time staff member based in the States along with funding for local project partners based in southern China and Central America. For additional information about the project and/or to share funding possibilities, please go to <www.igc.org/mhssn> or contact <gdbrown@igc.org>.

    Hill Day and Every Day – Working With APHA’s Government Relations Staff

    APHA’s Government Relations staff are always eager to work with APHA sections and members to coordinate and support visits to members of Congress to discuss public health issues. The Occupational Health and Safety Section has worked closely with these staff members over the years. If you are going to be in the Washington, D.C. area and would like to meet with one or more members of Congress to discuss a public health issue of concern to you, the Government relations staff would like to work with you to make that visit successful. This also helps APHA maintain consistency in its relations with members of Congress and their staff.

    The Government Relations staff will be organizing a “Hill Day” around the APHA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. This will be a day of coordinated visits by APHA members and section leaders to targeted members of Congress to present a coordinated effort to provide information to Congress about critical public health issues. In all likelihood these will focus upon the Association’s three priority areas, as well as the conference topic of environmental health. These arrangements have not been made yet, and consideration is being given to how best to organize such an event for the time just after the national elections when many members of Congress will not be on The Hill. Still, OHS Section members and leadership can begin thinking now about how we can best take advantage of this activity. Contact Craig Slatin, <craig_slatin@uml.edu>, our Action Board representative, if you intend to work with the Government Relations staff. This will help our section to coordinate our efforts with Congress and the APHA staff.

    Other Contacts

    APHA Government Relations and Affiliate Affairs Office:
    Telephone: (202) 777-2510
    Donald Hoppert, Director, Congressional and Federal Affairs
    (202) 777-2514
    Lakitia Mayo, Director, Grassroots Advocacy and Affiliate Affairs
    (202) 777-2515
    Natalie Raynor, Public Affairs Coordinator
    (202) 777-2511

    Cover the Uninsured Week 2004

    Nearly 44 million Americans live without health care coverage - including 8.5 million children. Last year, the number of people without health care coverage increased by more than 2 million, the largest one-year increase in a decade.

    From May 10-16, 2004, Cover the Uninsured Week will feature events from coast to coast so that Americans can learn more about why this is a crisis. The fact is, eight out of 10 people who are uninsured either work or are in working families. For them, minor illnesses can become major ones because health care is delayed, and one significant medical expense can wipe out a family's bank account.

    That is why the American Public Health Association is pleased to announce our support of Cover the Uninsured Week 2004. Working with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and more than 800 national and local organizations, we hope to elevate this issue on the national agenda and in communities across the country.

    For more information on Cover the Uninsured Week, visit <www.CovertheUninsuredWeek.org>. Sign up for updates and find events near you as activities are scheduled.

    We encourage you to take part in this important effort. Stay tuned for more on Cover the Uninsured Week in the weeks ahead. If you have any questions regarding the American Public Health Association's involvement in Cover the Uninsured Week, please contact Don Hoppert at <donald.hoppert@apha.org>.

    Update: The APHA Network on Globalization and Health Report: Winter 2004

    Call for Health Accountability in Trade Agreements

    The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would apply to all 34 countries in the western hemisphere, except Cuba. It would threaten measures that protect health, that provide access to medications, and that assure the safety and affordability of vital human services, including health care, water and sanitation, education and energy. Under the FTAA, vital human services are tradable commodities. The FTAA would grant rights to foreign private corporations to legally challenge domestic policies assuring that these services are safe, affordable and accessible, as potential barriers to trade. Appointed trade tribunals, which deliberate secretly without public accountability, would have the power to decide whether regulatory protections of our health and of vital human services conflict with trade rules, and to impose financial penalties on the United States and other countries that exercise those protections. These troubling restrictions mirror provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    We are concerned that:

    1. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and similar agreements place commercial interests above health.

    2. The FTAA threatens to pre-empt a wide range of US laws, rules, policies and programs that protect or enhance the public’s health, and that provide or regulate vital human services. Weakening our right to protect health and vital human services puts our nation's health at risk. The FTAA could limit the ability of Congress, or any state or region, including health authorities, to enact and enforce standards for:

  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and home care, including quality and staffing;

  • Health insurance, including standards for performance and patient protections;

  • Health professional training and licensing, enabling downward harmonization of standards;

  • Affordable, accessible medications, including for crises such as AIDS and SARS;

  • Public subsidies for health and other vital human services;

  • Environmental protections;

  • Occupational safety and health

  • Tobacco, alcohol and firearms: tariffs and distribution;

  • Public administration of safe water and sanitation; and

  • Working conditions including living wage ordinances, which help protect economic security.

  • 3. The FTAA would increase pressure to privatize health care systems, while weakening regulation of private corporations, with destructive effects on the practice and outcomes of medical care, and on quality, affordability and access.

    4. Trade decisions are not democratic or transparent, and exclude public health representatives. Critical terms of the negotiations are not publicly known or debated in the public policy arena, and there is no voice for health care or public health in the negotiating process.

    The policies and actions of the United States and other governments play a pivotal role in shaping the ground rules for global trade. The FTAA ministerial meeting presents an important opportunity to promote a safe and just global community with publicly accountable and sustainable health care, water supply, and other vital human services, and sound public health policies. To this end, we urge our elected representatives, the United States Trade Representative, and our allies around the globe advocating for fair trade agreements, to:

    1. Assure that health takes priority over commercial interests.
    2. Call for an assessment of the impact of the FTAA and GATS on population health, and assure based on such assessment that these agreements do not have an adverse impact on health.
    3. Exclude vital human services such as health care and water, and intellectual property rules that affect affordable medications, from trade negotiations and challenge under the FTAA.
    4. Include public health representatives in the negotiating advisory process, and promote transparency and democratic accountability at all levels of trade negotiations.
    5. Support enforceable commitments to advancing population health, and to achieving universal access to health care, affordable medications, and safe, affordable water in the United States and internationally.

    Call For Papers

    APHA 132nd Annual Meeting and Exposition Call for Abstracts

    American Public Health Association
    132nd Annual Meeting and Exposition
    November 6-10, 2004 - Washington, D.C.

    The American Public Health Association's CALL FOR ABSTRACTS for the 2004
    Annual Meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6-10, is now open for

    We invite you to submit your abstract and assist APHA in continuing to provide
    the highest quality public health educational programming.

    Abstracts are welcome in any area of public health, including those that
    incorporate the meeting theme of "Public Health and the Environment."

    Abstracts will be accepted through the APHA Web site,

    The deadlines for abstract submission is between Feb. 2-6, 2004, depending on which Section, Special Interest Group (SPIG) or Caucus you submit to. A
    complete list of deadlines is available on the APHA web site. The submission
    deadline is at MIDNIGHT on the due date as listed on the Call for Abstracts.

    Submitters will be notified on or about June 1, 2004 whether their abstract was selected.

    Science Community Opposes OMB’s Peer Review Proposal

    The Bush Administration’s efforts to permanently restructure the regulatory system, making it more difficult for future administrations to protect the environment and the public’s health, have run into opposition from a usually quiescent source: the science community.

    Traditionally, the organizations that represent mainstream scientists and their research institutions have focused their Washington political efforts on research funding, avoiding involvement in policy fights which might be perceived as partisan. In recent weeks, however, the science community has displayed unusual unanimity and verve in its opposition to an attempt by the White House to impose a new centralized system for control of scientific information disseminated by federal agencies.

    The scientific organizations are responding to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposal innocuously called “Peer Review and Information Quality,” which attempts to limit what opponents of regulation have often called “regulation by information.” It is a predictable outgrowth of the strategy, perfected by the tobacco industry, that enables producers of hazardous products and pollution to delay formal regulation, and avoid compensating their victims.

    Under the OMB proposal, all covered information put out by an agency would undergo some form of peer review, and any information that affects major regulation, or that could have a “substantial impact” on public policies or private sector decisions, would be put through a cumbersome system in which the information is reviewed by experts independent of the agency. Perhaps to slow the process further, the information (reports, Web pages, etc.) would first have to be published in draft form and disseminated for public comment, after which it would be sent to a peer review panel, along with the public comments. The agency would then formally respond to the peer reviewer’s comments before the information could be re-disseminated.

    Peer review, or independent review by experts, is a pillar of the system of production of scientific information. Before articles describing the work of individual or small groups of scientists are published in scientific journals, the editors generally send the manuscripts to other scientists, who provide feedback and advice to the editor and the manuscripts authors. Many federal agencies have peer review mechanisms for the studies and reports they produce, either internally, or by outside experts.

    But, as every scientist knows, peer review is a subjective process; it can be fair, or it can be stacked against you. The Bush Administration has already been chastised by the scientific community for stacking federal advisory committees with scientists beholden to regulated industries or right-wing interest groups. With the peer review proposal, the Bush Administration has gone further. Many of the nation’s leading academic experts could not be utilized, since the proposal excludes from participation those scientists whose research is funded by the agency involved. In contrast, the proposal does not preclude some industry-employed scientists from appointment to the panels.

    It is clear from the categories exempted from the proposal that its targets are the programs that protect the environment and the public’s safety and health. Information related to national defense or foreign affairs is exempted, perhaps because accuracy isn’t so important in the matter of weapons of mass destruction and related issues. All permits are also exempted so that, for example, when a manufacturer submits its own studies to demonstrate the safety of a new pesticide, peer review isn’t necessary.

    Much of this opposition from the science community was solidified at a remarkable workshop held in November at the White House’s request, by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Speaker after speaker, all invited as experts in regulatory sciences by the NAS, warned that the OMB proposal would lead to increased costs and delays in disseminating useful information and issuing rules that protect the environment and public health, while potentially damaging the existing system of scientific peer review. Many of the speakers challenged OMB to identify a single report or regulation that would have been improved had the proposed peer review system been in place.

    It became clear at the meeting that the proposal reflected a fundamental lack of understanding of how science is used in regulation, and that the peer review model chosen by OMB is not particularly useful or even applicable to the process through which government agencies do their work.

    Michael Taylor, who had served as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy, cautioned that the centralization of authority around peer review at OMB could have the unintended consequence of constraining public health officials from reacting to a national emergency.

    Since the workshop, opposition to the White House proposal has continued to swell; not just from the public interest community that keeps a close watch on OMB, but from mainstream scientists. At its annual meeting in November, the American Public Health Association passed a resolution opposing the proposal. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), representing the nation’s schools of medicine, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) sent a scathing letter of opposition to the White House, as did the Council on Government Relations, representing more than 150 leading U.S. research universities.

    The Bush Administration has made it a policy to appropriate widely used terms and give them new, often opposite meanings. The scientific community does not want the cherished term “peer review” to go the way of “clean skies” and “healthy forests.” In a recent editorial in Science magazine, Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy wrote that OMB’s labeling of this process peer review seems “strange,” and that the proposal contributes to the erosion of public trust in scientists.

    The depth of the opposition of mainstream science to the White House proposal can perhaps best be seen in the letter NAS President Bruce Alberts sent to Graham. Representing the nation’s preeminent arbiter of science, Alberts warned in unusually harsh language that “the highly prescriptive type of peer review that OMB is proposing differs from accepted practices of peer review in the scientific community, and if enacted in its present form is likely to be counterproductive.”

    New Summer Intern Program Launched

    Students Wanted for Summer 2004

    Yet another new project has been born out of an initial conversation at the APHA annual meeting. Three years ago at the Boston meeting, a few people in the OSH section began to talk about creating a new union-based summer intern program, modeled on programs established in the late 1970s by the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) and the Montefiore Medical Center’s Department of Social Medicine in New York. We realized that many of us in the section originally came to the field of occupational health through the transformative experience of working with a local union on worksite hazards over a summer. For many, it was the perfect blending of science and politics with a focus on disease prevention. We got out of the classroom and laboratory, and learned about the “real world” of the workplace. Professional and personal friendships formed more than 25 years ago continue to this day.

    At the same time, we realized that the OSH Section and our field were long overdue for an infusion of young health professionals dedicated to forming partnerships with unions and working people on occupational health and safety issues. It was time to create an updated summer intern program. The idea was to make it a truly national program this time, and to broaden recruitment beyond medical students to the full spectrum of disciplines related to occupational health and safety. We decided to include undergraduates to work in teams with graduate medical, nursing, and public health students. This could help increase the number of students eventually applying for graduate study in our field. We also anticipated greater participation among minority students if we included undergraduates, based on data from other union summer programs.

    Over the next three years we held a series of meetings, corresponded by e-mail, and pursued funding leads. The result was the launch of OHIP, the Occupational Health Internship Program at the APHA meeting in San Francisco in November 2003. AOEC, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (another project created by OSH section members), generously offered to house the project, with the help of its executive director, Katherine Kirkland. The pilot project for the summer of 2004 is funded through agreements with NIOSH and the California Department of Health Services.We expect to place approximately 12 student interns in a variety of workplace on both the East and West Coasts.

    We Need Your Help
    We need the help of the section members, particularly those teaching in higher education, to identify and refer students to us who are energetic, self-motivated, and interested in labor or social justice issues. Many of us signed up for the original 1970s summer intern program after hearing OCAW’s Tony Mazzocchi speak eloquently on our campuses about the realities of workplace safety and opportunity to make a difference. Now that Tony is no longer with us, it’s up to us to find and mentor the next generation of OSH activists.

    We’re looking for students (medical, nursing, graduate or undergraduate) from any college or university willing to work about eight weeks this summer in either the New York Metropolitan Area or the San Francisco Bay Area. Stipends are available but are not intended to cover housing. David Kotelchuck at Hunter College will be coordinating the New York project; Bob Harrison at UC San Francisco will be coordinating the Bay Area students. Overall project coordinator is Gail Bateson, working with the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley along with Mike Wilson.

    Details about the program are available on our Web site: <www.aoec.org/OHIP>. A student application form will be posted by the end of January and due by the end of February. To talk to a real person about the specific worksite projects we’re lining up and other details, contact Gail Bateson in Berkeley, California at <batesong@pacbell.net> or (510) 525-6421.

    Recent Conference News

    AFL-CIO’s Biannual National Safety and Health Conference in Detroit

    Visit our Web page: <http://www.aflcio.org/yourjobeconomy/safety/>

    Nearly 450 rank-and-file safety and health activists gathered at the AFL-CIO’s biannual National Safety and Health Conference in Detroit, Dec. 7-10, 2003. Participants heard panelists discuss the state of worker safety and health on the local, national and global levels. Discussions ranged from the safety and health conditions for workers abroad to how to change working conditions for immigrant workers in the United States. Rank-and-filers discussed their success and struggles in using safety and health issues in organizing drives. Others talked about the programs at their workplaces that simply blame the worker for injuries and how to combat these programs and institute real safety and health programs that deal with the actual workplace hazards. Issues of homeland security, emergency preparedness and necessary information and tools for workers to be prepared were also discussed.

    Participants heard from AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez Thompson, UAW President Ron Gettlefinger and local union leaders. Plenary panel discussions were followed by numerous workshops ranging in topic from Your Rights Under OSHA to Confronting Genetic Screening and Monitoring in the Workplace, from Incident Investigation, and Job Stress to Learning to be a Union Safety and Health Trainer. Participants also joined in a rally to support laundry workers who are trying to organize at Cintas.

    Environmental Health News – New Issue on “Safety Culture”

    "Safety culture" is the theme of the latest issue of Environmental Health News, published by the University of Washington's Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences.

    The newsletter is online in HTML and PDF versions at <http://depts.washington.edu/envhlth/info/newsletter_html/autumn03.html>.

    Please e-mail Kathy Hall at <kjhall@u.washington.edu> if you'd like to be on the mailing list for the print version.

    Web sites - Departmental: <http://depts.washington.edu/envhlth/>
    Editor's corner: <http://staff.washington.edu/kjhall/>

    The Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program is Now Accepting Applications for the Summer of 2004 Program

    The Scholars Program brings talented African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native college seniors and recent graduates to Washington, D.C., where they work in congressional offices and learn about health policy. The application deadline is Jan. 30, 2004.

    Purpose: The Kaiser Family Foundation established the Scholars Program to honor the legacy of late U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who was a Foundation Trustee, and to expand the pool of students of color interested in the field of health policy.

    Structure: Through the nine-week program (June 1 - July 30, 2004), Scholars gain knowledge about federal legislative procedure and health policy issues, while further developing their critical thinking and leadership skills. In addition to an internship in a congressional office, Scholars participate in seminars and site visits to augment their knowledge of health care issues, and write and present a health policy research paper. The program is based at Howard University.

    Eligibility: Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens who are members of a racial/ethnic minority group and will be seniors or recent graduates of an accredited U.S. college or university in the fall of 2004. Candidates are selected based on academic performance, demonstrated leadership potential and interest in health policy.

    Compensation: Scholars receive approximately $5,000 in support, which includes a stipend, daily expense allowance, airfare and lodging.

    Additional information: Application forms and additional information about the Program are available online at <http://www.kff.org/docs/topics/jordanscholars.html>. All application materials are due by Jan. 30, 2004. For further information, contact program manager Jomo Kassaye at 202-865-4827 or <jkassaye@huhosp.org>.

    Upcoming Conferences

    A conference and public forum on
    “The Way We Work and Its Impact on Our Health”

    The University of California Centers of Occupational and Environmental Health in Northern California (UCB, UCSF and UCD) and Southern California (UCLA and UCI) along with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Northern and Southern California Education and Research Centers, and the Center for Social Epidemiology invite you to attend a conference on “The Way We Work and Its Impact on Our Health.” It will be held on April 22-23, 2004, at the UCLA Sunset Village Conference Center. This program has no registration fee.
    The primary purposes of the forum are to foster dialog, clarify issues and seek solutions that will reduce harmful health outcomes due to work-related stress. The forum is for employers, workers, labor organizations, health care providers, policy makers and academics and everyone else interested in the issue.
    The two-day program features:
  • Opening dinner with presentation by Dr. John Frank (Scientific Director, Population and Public Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research);

  • Review of relevant research;

  • Keynote address by Dr. Steve Sauter (Chief, Division of Applied Research and Technology, NIOSH); and

  • Speakers, panel discussions and breakout groups.

  • Topics addressed include:
  • The changing way we work;

  • How the way we work impacts our health;

  • Challenges for Californians to improve work organization; and

  • Identifying solutions including case studies
  • .

    The goals of the forum are to:
  • Summarize what is known about work, work organization and stress and health;

  • Provide a forum for discussing various perspectives on health issues related to work and occupational stress
  • Strategize ways to reduce the health impact and cost of work-related stress; and

  • Encourage consensus building that will begin to develop a California policy on work, work organization and work-related stress.

  • Visit <www.workhealth.org> to learn more about this upcoming meeting and other related topics.

    A preliminary agenda will be e-mailed to you soon. If you would like a registration form (to be ready late January 2004), please contact Claudia Molina at <cmolina@ucla.edu> or 310-206-2304.

    Full-day Conference on Social Determinants of Health and Disease

    Dear Epidemiologist/Public Health Scientist/Behavioral or Social Scientist:

    The Graduate Group in Epidemiology at the University of California, Davis, together with the Northern California Epidemiology Network (NOCEN), invite you to attend a conference that will be held at Embassy Suites Napa Valley, Napa, California, Friday, March 5, 2004.

    The conference will feature presentations by leading authorities on social and economic factors affecting population health.

    Among the questions to be addressed by this conference are the following:

  • Why do socioeconomic factors loom so large in the etiology of all classes of disease?

  • What evidence exists that social support and social networks protect against morbidity and mortality?

  • How does connectedness or solidarity among groups in civic society promote population health?

  • What are the psychosocial and physiological pathways through which social structure affects disease rates?

  • What insights do studies of primates afford regarding the health effects of social stress and social isolation?

  • What social/societal interventions promote health and prevent disease?

  • The conference site, Embassy Suites Napa Valley <www.embassynapa.com>, is a full-service luxury hotel located in Napa, California. Napa lies at the edge of one of world's premier wine-growing regions and is a short driving distance from San Francisco.

    The surrounding Napa Valley is known not only for its wine but also for its small-town atmosphere, temperate climate and superb restaurants.

    To learn more about the conference and to obtain the conference program and a registration form, contact Laurie Richardson at (530) 752-8340 or <lrichardson@ucdavis.edu>.

    The registration fee of $40 ($20 for students with ID) includes continental
    breakfast, lunch, refreshment breaks, and a reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres.

    The reception will coincide with a poster session. You are encouraged to submit abstracts for poster presentation on any aspect of epidemiology or public health. The abstract submission form can also be requested of Laurie Richardson by contacting her by phone or by e-mail.

    Directions and further information will be sent to registrants as the conference date approaches.

    We hope you will join us for what promises to be a very exciting conference.

    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 health care 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 health care 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.

    Book Announcement

    The gender workplace health gap in Europe ISBN 2-930003-49-9


    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: <http://www.etuc.org/tutb/uk/publication_resume26.html>.

    University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences offers Continuing Education

    To confirm this schedule or find more information about these courses, call (206) 543-1069 or visit the Continuing Education Web site at <http://depts.washington.edu/ehce>. Courses are in Seattle unless noted.

    Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety

    Jan 16 Diesel exhaust & human health: Current scientific and policy issues
    Jan 20 - 23 Annual hazardous waste refreshers
    Feb 11 Tools and techniques to improve your safety training programs
    Feb 12 Puget Sound Occupational and Environmental Medicine Grand Rounds
    Feb 19 Pesticide safety, health, and medicine conference
    Feb 27 An aging workforce: Developing health and safety strategies that work
    Mar 11 Puget Sound Occupational and Environmental Medicine Grand Rounds
    Mar 12 Zoonotic and vector-borne disease: Current and emerging issues
    Apr 8 Puget Sound Occupational and Environmental Medicine Grand Rounds
    Apr 30 Shipping and receiving of hazardous materials for laboratory operations

    OSHA Training Institute Educational Center

    Jan 5-8 OSHA 501: Trainer course for general industry
    Jan 5-8 OSHA 510: OSHA standards for construction (Portland)
    Jan 12-15 OSHA 3110: Fall arrest systems
    Jan 13-16 OSHA 511: General industry standards (Boise)
    Jan 21-23 OSHA 502: Construction trainer update (Portland)
    Jan 23 Focus on Safety seminar: Competent person
    Jan 26-28 OSHA 2225: Respiratory protection
    Jan 26-28 OSHA 503: General industry trainer update (Portland)
    Feb 2-5 OSHA 510: OSHA standards for construction
    Feb 9-12 OSHA 3010: Excavation, trenching, & soil mechanics (Portland)
    Feb 17 Focus on Safety seminar: Steel erection
    Feb 18-19 Supervisory safety & health duties
    Feb 23-25 OSHA 2250: Principles of ergonomics
    Feb 23-26 OSHA 500: Trainer course for construction industry (Portland)
    Mar 1-4 OSHA 511: General industry standards
    Mar 8-11 OSHA 6000: Collateral duty for other federal agencies (Portland)
    Mar 9 Focus on Safety seminar: Scaffolding
    Mar 16-19 OSHA 2015: Hazardous materials
    Mar 22-24 OSHA 2225: Respiratory protection (Portland)
    Mar 22-25 OSHA 521: OSHA guide to industrial hygiene
    Mar 29-31 OSHA 503: General industry trainer update
    Mar 29-Apr 1 OSHA 6000: Collateral duty for other federal agencies (Spokane)
    Apr 5-8 OSHA 500: Trainer course for construction industry
    Apr 5-8 OSHA 511: General industry standards (Portland)
    Apr 12-15 OSHA 6000: Collateral duty for other federal agencies
    Apr 19-22 OSHA 521: OSHA guide to industrial hygiene (Portland)
    Apr 20-23 OSHA 500: Trainer course for construction industry (Boise)
    Apr 26-28 OSHA 502: Construction trainer update
    Apr 27-30 OSHA 3095: Electrical standards (Portland)

    Job Announcement

    POSITION: Chemical Safety Recommendations Specialist
    GS-0301 13 / 14
    Chemical Safety Board
    Office of Investigations and Safety Programs, Washington, D.C.

    SERIES & GRADE: GS-0301-13/14
    SALARY RANGE: 69,054 - 106,086

    If selected for this position, you will serve as an expert in industrial safety analysis. You will be responsible for leading and managing the development of the Chemical Safety Board's safety recommendations; as well as follow-up with recipients for the Board's safety recommendations and provide safety advocacy activities. The work involves the application of advanced technical and analytical skills and expertise in the area of industrial or chemical safety, as well as an understanding of the mission and functions of those involved in collaborative partnerships for improved safety. The work is complicated by the large numbers and kinds of industries which manufacture, process or otherwise use or handle chemicals. You will be expected to balance organizational, policy, and program requirements, priorities and goals with operating restrictions, resource availability and other internal and external issues in ways which maximize fulfillment of the Board's mission.

    For more information, refer to: <http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=20424243>.

    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, <www.apha.org/private>, 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 < http://www.apha.org/sections/newsletterintro.htm>.

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