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Occupational Health and Safety
Section Newsletter
Winter 2006

Chair's Message

Rachel Rubin MD, MPH
Division Chair, Occupational Medicine
Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Medical College
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois School of Public Health, (312) 864-5520

Section Update:

As my first message to the Section as chair, I want to mention several changes in leadership as well the positions we need to fill for our upcoming election. The current secretary is Celeste Monforton. The chair-elect who will take office at the end of the Boston meeting is Jim Cone, and secretary-elect is Darius Sivin. Our program chair for the upcoming conference is Butch de Castro, who is already hard at work and is asking for anyone willing to review abstracts, to contact him at <>. Mary Miller has taken on the monumental task of being our representative on the Action Board and has already put out calls for several potential resolutions from the Section to be submitted for the coming meeting. The Membership Committee chair position has been taken over by Paul Landsbergis, with great thanks to the prior Chair Eduardo Siqueira. Peter Dooley is taking over the responsibilities for the Awards Committee chairmanship, and I want to especially thank our new Section liaison to the Student Assembly LaTrice Porter-Thomas. LaTrice is one of our scholarship winners from this past year and is a graduate student at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. We welcome her most enthusiastic participation in our Section leadership. This sSction had its first conference call of the year in January. Following in the tradition of Mike Silverstein, the conference call was well attended, and we have come up with several ideas for solicited sessions for the upcoming meeting in Boston.

Several leadership positions in our Section are up for election. John Morawetz, as head of the Nominations Committee is soliciting nominations for chair-elect, secretary-elect, two Section Counselors and two Governing Counselors. The chair-elect and secretary-elect will take over their “elect” positions at the end of the upcoming meeting. They will then become the chair and secretary respectively at the end of the 2007 meeting, thus being the chairs for 2008. If this sounds confusing, it is. We just want folks who are willing to take over in two years as Chair and Secretary. All nominations are welcome, and please forward them to John Morawetz before the Feb. 28 deadline. In addition, we have two Section Counselors and two Governing Counselors to elect, who will assume office at the end of the Boston meeting.

The membership in our Section continues to drop and we are now down to three Section Counselors from our prior quota of four last year. I want to thank our outgoing Governing Counselors Elise Pechter and Darius Sivin; they represented our section with aplomb and appropriate militancy over their terms. Our new Governing Counselor is Andrea Kidd-Taylor, who is joining Peter Dooley and Luis Vazquez, whose terms end in 2007. We have an opening for one new Section Counselor. Again, nominations close on Feb. 28, so anyone who is interested please contact John Morawetz at (513) 621-8882 or by e-mail at

The planning for the program for the upcoming conference is well under way under the ample directorship of Butch de Castro. Abstracts were due Feb. 16, and after that time unsolicited abstracts cannot be accepted. However, several priorities and ideas for solicited sessions have been selected by the leadership and anyone interested in the following topics are invited to contact Butch if they want to help organize a session.

  • Eduardo Siqueira is organizing a session on occupational health and safety initiatives in Latin American, specifically including discussions about the recent national Congress for Workers Safety Health in Brazil, that I had the great fortune to attend in November 2005, and a conference this January on workers' health and safety in Venezuela. These two countries provide tremendous models for worker and community participation in creating and implementing national priorities and policies for workers safety and health and environmental health.
  • A joint session is being planned with the Environment Section regarding the electronics industry. We had been trying to build stronger connections with the Environment Section, and this session is a renewed effort at collaboration.
  • Thirdly, a major national report on the situation of day laborers in the United States has just been published and a session on day laborers is being organized by Peter Dooley <> and Leslie Nickels <>. Anyone who wants input on this topic for that session can contact either of them.
  • As has been our tradition we want to present a session related to the history of workers health and Leslie Nickels <> will be looking into organizing that session.
  • Finally, discussion occurred at the past meeting in Philadelphia that in light of the ongoing war in Iraq, each section should try to have one session on the impact of war with respect to their particular area of interest within public health. The theme of the meeting is Public Health and Human Rights, so expressing our opposition to the war as an infringement of human rights and a major public health issue seems appropriate. If there is anyone interested in helping organize a session on the impact of war on occupational health safety, can contact Butch de Castro <> or me.

A couple of other concerns for the Section have come up over the last month. Executive Director Georges Benjamin has contacted the Section for help in developing an Association response to the attack on public health professionals by industry and business-community interests. We are making contact with the Union of Concerned Scientists and other interested individuals to help us formulate an action plan for addressing this issue, which is a continuing problem among occupational health and safety professionals in particular. This attack on the integrity of public health professionals who are trying to support workers’ rights is symptomatic of a larger attack under the Bush administration on the integrity of scientific evidence as it relates to the development of public policy. Anyone interested in helping forge an association-wide policy or campaign, including a resolution to address this issue, should contact me.

Resolutions coming from the Section include a revision and re-submission of the Katrina-related resolution about protecting workers involved in the clean-up and reconstruction on the Gulf coast. The policy needs to be resubmitted, as it was a late breaker at the Philadelphia meeting. In addition, other topics that people are encouraged to submit resolutions or help revise prior resolutions on include nanotechnology and avian influenza preparedness. Of course, any other policy issues that individuals would like to address are more than welcome and they should contact Mary Miller, (360) 902-6041 who is at the helm of our resolution writing as representative to the Action Board for the coming term. Draft resolutions are due March 15.

National Update:

The following are just a couple of recent occupational health and safety newsworthy items.

On January 2 there was a major mine disaster in the Sago Mine in West Virginia where twelve miners lost their lives, and one miner survived but was critically injured. This mine disaster is not unique by any means within the United States and certainly not internationally. However, this was also a disaster that was waiting to happen. According, to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA), the Sago Mine had been cited over 200 times in the past year; including the mine being shut down several times until appropriate safety issues could be addressed. This particular mine’s injury rate is reported to be three times the industry average, including suffering more than a dozen roof falls over the last six months. There had been no death reports at this mine since 1995; however, 42 workers and contractors have been injured in various accidents since 2000. The lost work days due to injuries over the past five years were nearly double the national average for underground coal mines according to MSHA. In the wake of the Sago disaster, another mine accident occurred in Aracoma Mine, again in West Virginia, where two miners lost their lives while 19 others were able to escape unharmed after an underground coal mine fire. It is clear that under the Bush administration MSHA has changed its focus from attempting to monitor and improve health and safety for miners to focusing on increasing coal production and supporting the electric power utilities in their search for energy sources. Safety has clearly taken a back seat to production output as oil prices continue to rise. For an excellent resource for more information about mine disaster, go to Jordan Barab’s Confined Space Web site <> and following the link for Mine Safety Watch, which can also be reached directly: <>.

Another issue that is finally gaining some attention is the situation of day laborers. In January of this year a report was published entitled “On the Corner: Day Labor in the United States” authored by Abel Valenzuela, Jr. (UCLA), Nik Theodore (University of Illinois at Chicago), Edwin Meléndez (New School University) and Ana Luz Gonzalez (UCLA). This report, which can be viewed on the Web at <>, highlights the growing day labor work force in the United States and the accompanying problems with work place safety, employment abuses, substandard wages and earnings, and other issues of exploitation of this predominantly immigrant workforce. The study highlights that day laborers are predominately hired to work in construction, gardening or landscaping, painting, roofing and drywall installation. The vast majority of day laborers (83 percent) rely on day labor as their primary source of income for themselves and their families. Day labor pays poorly as the medium hourly wage is only ten dollars. Numerous work place safety and employment abuses were documented in their survey including 44 percent of workers being denied food and water or breaks while on the job. Workplace injuries are common in that one in five day laborers reported to have suffered a work-related injury, and more than half of these individuals did not receive medical care for their injuries. In addition, day laborers have to suffer abuse and harassment by merchants and police while they are waiting at various pick-up sites for daily work. The survey was of 2600 day laborers randomly selected from 264 hiring sites in 139 municipalities throughout the United States. The major conclusions of the report include a call for a broader policy including a call for improved worker conditions; better enforcement of work place safety conditions; increased access to legal services for these workers; implementation of work place strategies that can help these day laborers make a transition from the informal economy into the more formal and better paying jobs, and finally for immigration reform that normalizes the immigration status of most of these day laborers who are undocumented (Source: Executive Summary of the report).

One final note: As many of you are aware, NIOSH is reorganizing its research agenda. NIOSH is currently holding hearings throughout the United States for input into the reorganization of its NORA Program. It is changing its focus to a sector-based as opposed to an issue or problem based research priority system. Many of us have concerns that this type of reorganization will decrease the emphasis on vulnerable populations and minority workers, as well as workers in the informal sector. I encourage anybody who able to testify at these hearings to sign up to do so. You can go to the NORA Web page and find out where the next set hearings will take place: .

Finally, many thanks to Ingrid Denis from AOEC for a great job as our newsletter editor.

Deadline Approaching for APHA 2006 OHS Abstract Submission

Mary Miller

The general Call for Abstracts for the 2006 APHA Annual Meeting (Nov. 4-8) in Boston is now open. The theme for the 2006 meeting is Public Health and Human Rights. The full text for the Call for Abstracts can be found at The deadline for submission of abstracts is Feb.16, 2006, 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time).

For general information and instructions for submitting abstracts, visit For questions regarding submissions specifically to the Occupational Health Section, or if you would like to volunteer as reviewer or member of the Program Committee, contact Butch de Castro at, (312) 413-0058.

APHA Working Group on Trade & Health

Garrett Brown

The multi-section APHA Working Group on Trade and Health had a high profile at the Philadelphia Annual Meeting in December 2005 and several dozen more APHA members have signed up with the ad-hoc formation to broaden its work and impact.

The Working Group, formed at the November 2004 Washington, D.C., Annual Meeting, held an open business meeting, a four-section scientific session and a conference-wide special session on the public impact of international trade agreements. More than 70 APHA members signed up to join the Working Group's efforts to further organize APHA members and to play an ever-expanding role as health professionals in legislative debates and public education campaigns.

More than 1,000 conference participants attended the Tuesday morning "special session," one of only four sessions at that time period, which was devoted to the impact of trade and trade agreements on public health globally. Two members of the Working Group - Ellen Shaffer of the Medical Care Section and Marty Makinen of the International Health Section - spoke with a third speaker, Nils Daulaire. The special session reflected the debate within and outside of APHA about whether "free trade," and the international agreements that set its rules, advance or are a threat to public health.

Makinen and Daulaire were generally in favor of corporate-led globalization and free trade agreements as a means generating wealth in poor countries, while Shaffer was highly critical of the adverse impact on key public health parameters - access to care and medicines, enforcement of health-protective regulations, and national sovereignty to establish laws and policies to protect public health. Over the last decade, APHA has passed several policy positions on trade that express the association's deep concerns about the detrimental impact of trade pacts on public health around the world.

At the separate scientific session on trade, speakers from four APHA sections - Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs, Environment, Medical Care and Occupational Health and Safety - presented case studies of how trade agreements have adversely affected public health. Garrett Brown represented the OHS Section, which also sponsored the session, and Brown spoke about how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has completely failed to protect workplace health in Mexico, Canada or the United States.

Plans for 2006 were discussed at the Working Group business meeting, including further outreach within APHA to involve more sections, state affiliates and individual members. At present seven sections and three state affiliates are represented in the Working Group, which should expand as the 70 APHA members who signed up for more information become integrated in Working Group activities. The planned activities include an APHA Web site to display key information and conference presentations, section newsletter articles and business meeting presentations, presentations at state affiliate meetings, and additional articles in the association's journal and newspaper. In addition, the Working Group plans to channel members' interest and time into the ongoing public education and legislative lobbying campaigns around specific trade agreements and trade impacts in general. APHA is already working to include public health professionals in the critical "advisory committees" to the U.S. government's trade negotiating arm. Currently the more than 20 advisory committees are filled with corporate lobbyists while public health is represented by no more than three professionals among the dozens of lobbyists and lawyers.

The exact structure of the Working Group may change over the next several months as the APHA Task Force on reorganization clarifies its recommendations adopted in Philadelphia. Following the December meeting, the chair of the Working Group passed from the OHS Section (Garrett Brown) to the Medical Care Section (Kristen Smith), but Brown will remain as coordinator of the monthly conference calls.

There is a lot of work to be done, both within APHA and reaching out to the general public, so any OHS Section member interested in the trade issue is heartily encouraged to sign up with the Working Group. Please contact either Working Group chair Kristen Smith at or Garrett Brown at

APHA Concludes 133rd Annual Meeting

Last December, APHA concluded its 133rd Annual Meeting, where over 11,000 public health professionals from around the world came together to discuss the pressing issues in public health for 2005 and the future. Originally scheduled to take place in New Orleans, the meeting was moved to Philadelphia and the impact of the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes dominated many of the discussions.

To view snapshots (courtesy: Dorothy Wigmore) from OHS Section Activities, select Related File below: OHS Section at APHA 2005.

Related Files:
OHS Section at APHA 2005

National Public Health Week Set for April 3-9

Thousands of partners across the country will join APHA in celebrating National Public Health Week, April 3-9, 2006. The theme of this year’s observance is “Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids” and will focus on children and the built environment. To learn more, visit <>.

2006 Call for Award Nominations Awards Program

APHA is now accepting nominations for several public health leadership awards. For more information about the awards, visit The deadline for nominations is April 18. The awards will be presented at the APHA 134th Annual Meeting in Boston.

Confined Space Web Site Earns International Recognition

Confined Space (, the Weblog on work place health and safety, labor and politics, was among the nominees in LabourStart's International Labor Web site of the Year. LabourStart is an online news service maintained by a global network of volunteers which aims to serve the international trade union movement by collecting and disseminating information, and by assisting unions in campaigning and other ways. Jordan Barab’s Web site garnered third place in a winning field of ten websites from Canada, South Africa, Australia, the UK and Ireland. In this year's competition, 6,848 votes were cast for hundreds of trade union websites around the world. For a complete listing of winning sites, visit

NIOSH Town Hall Meetings and NORA Symposium

HIGXYZ49HIGZYXThe last of the NIOSH Town Hall Meetings are taking place over the next few weeks. The town hall meetings began last year and are public forums where stakeholders and partners are encouraged to present their views about important research needs in occupational safety and health. Each meeting has a unique format and agenda. Below is a list of remaining meetings and topic areas. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can submit your ideas and comments online at:  For more information and to register visit .

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Symposium 2006: Research Makes a Difference will be held on April 18-20, 2006 in Washington, D.C. Occupational safety and health researchers, stakeholders, and policymakers from the public and private sectors will convene to celebrate completion of the first decade of NORA, mark the 35th anniversary of NIOSH, and inaugurate the new plan for the future of NORA. The symposium will be a unique forum for a broad cross-section of the occupational safety and health community to learn about the variety of research accomplishments stimulated or anticipated by NORA. For more information about the symposium, please visit the NORA website or e-mail the NORA coordinator at .

Integrity Watch

The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Integrity in Science Project <> has launched a new service – Integrity Watch. Brief new summaries and links are sent to those interested in ending corporate misuse and abuse of science. To post an item for inclusion in the Database of Scientists’ and Organizations’ Ties to Industry, please send it to <>.

OHS Section Seeks Design Assistance

As the old adage goes…”there is always room for improvement.” Mary Miller is looking for volunteers to help develop design ideas to improve the OHS Section Web site Design expertise is not required, but definitely welcome. To set those creative cogs in motion, contact Mary Miller at, (360) 902-6041.



New: Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene online course. Provided by the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center (NC OSHERC). This is the same course that is offered face-to-face at the NC OSHERC Summer and Winter Institutes. This course is a week-long introduction to the basic concepts of Industrial Hygiene and is a prerequisite for many of the other Institute courses. For additional information, contact the NC OSHERC at , or call (888) 235-3320.

March 2006

Work, Stress, and Health 2006: Making a Difference in the Workplace (Miami, Fla.) March 2-4, 2006. Sponsored by NIOSH, the American Psychological Association, the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Labor. More information about the conference can be found at: .

Genes in the Workplace: The Right Fit? (Washington, D.C.). March 15, 2006. Hosted by Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health. For more information, call (410) 614-4986 or visit: .

Spirometry Update: Interpretations and Pitfalls
(Pittsburgh). March 17, 2006. MC Townsend Associates. For course description and more information, call: (412) 343-9946 or visit: .

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Basic Hands-On CAMEO Training (Boston) March 20-22, 2006. For complete details or to register visit: .

The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Washington is offering the following Continuing Education courses. To confirm this schedule, or find more information about these courses, call (206) 543-1069 or visit . Courses are in Seattle unless otherwise noted.

March 14 - Zoonotic and Vector-Borne Disease: Current and Emerging Issues <>

March 17 - Applied Office Ergonomics (Boise, ID) <

March 22-23 - Clear Writing for Safety and Health Professionals <>

Call for Abstracts: Abstracts are due March 31, 2006 for the 13th Conference of the International Society for Respiratory Protection. The conference will be held August 27-Sept.1, 2006 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Topics for papers include respiratory protection for healthcare workers, emergency responders, and those in developing countries; updates on standards and regulations; emerging hazards and technologies; and fundamentals of respiratory protection. More information on the Call for Abstracts is available at  or by contacting Ziqing Zhuang at Additional information on the conference can be found at .

April 2006

The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Washington is offering:

April 18-20 - Hazardous Materials Incidents: Improving Interagency Response (Richland, Wash.) . For more information, call (206) 543-1069 or visit .

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Occupational and Environmental Radiation Protection: Principles and Practices of Radiation Safety (Boston) April 24 - 27, 2006. Complete details and registration information available at: .

May 2006

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations (Boston) May 1 - 5, 2006. For complete details or to register: .

The American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) and Ventilation 2006 - The 8th International Conference on Ventilation will
be held concurrently May 13-18, 2006 in Chicago, IL. Information on both conferences can be found at .

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Risk Communication Challenge Proven Strategies for Effective Risk Communication (Boston). May 22-24, 2006. For complete details or to register: .

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Advanced Hands-On CAMEO Training (Boston) May 22-24, 2006. For complete details or to register: .

Harvard School of Public Health Presents: Integrated Emergency Planning: A Step-By-Step Approach to "One Plan" Based on Basic On-Line Disaster and Emergency Response (BOLDER) Planning Software (Boston, MA) May 25, 2006. For complete details or to register: .

The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Washington is offering:

May 31 - Applied Office Ergonomics (Anchorage, AK) <> For more information, call (206) 543-1069 or visit .

June 2006

The Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Washington is offering:

June 7 - Occupational Neurology. For more information, call (206) 543-1069 or visit .

ICOH 2006: 28th International Congress on Occupational Health (Milan Italy) June 11-16, 2006. For more information visit: or e-mail: .

2nd National HealthCare Ergonomics Conference, June 26-29, 2006. (Portland, OR). Sponsored by Oregon Coalition for HealthCare Ergonomics and Oregon Nurses Foundation. For more information, visit

For Up-to-Date OHS Section News...

Make sure to visit the OHS Section Web site at <>. You'll also notice the new OHS Section banner developed for the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting. The OHS Section also has a listserv to communicate timely information regarding important legislation, news, and action alerts. It also serves as a platform for the discussion of important topics or relevant announcements to the section. Any listserv member can post a message to the group. Subscribing is easy:

1. From the address you intend to receive message, prepare an e-mail addressed to: (that is a lowercase letter "L", not the number 1)
2. In the "subject" line of the e-mail, type subscribe occ-hlth-l (use lowercase letter "L" and not number "1")
3. Leave the body of the message blank and send it.
4. You will receive a confirmation message that you have successfully subscribed.

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 contact APHA Manager of Section Affairs Sharon McCarthy at (202) 777-2483 or <>.