New American Public Health Association policy statements address physical activity, universal preschool, workers’ compensation and more

Date: Nov 07 2017

CONTACT: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913


Summaries of 2017 APHA policy statements adopted by the Governing Council in Atlanta

Atlanta, Nov. 7, 2017 – The American Public Health Association Governing Council adopted 13 new policy statements at its 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta today, covering topics from physical activity and universal preschool to workers’ compensation.

The following are brief descriptions of the policy statements adopted by the Governing Council. For more information on any of these policy statements, email policy@apha.org.

These brief descriptions are not comprehensive and do not include every point, statement or conclusion presented in the policy statements. The full policy statements will be posted online in early 2018.

20171 Enhancing public health research, practice — Noting that state and local public health agencies often face challenges in adopting evidence-based practices and engaging in the research needed to build upon the existing evidence base, calls on agencies to consider memorandums of understanding or other formal academic collaborations that facilitate research. Encourages such agreements to include strategies for professional development of public health workers and students, establish collaborative learning sessions for academic and professional staff, and facilitate academic health departments in finding opportunities for practice-based research. Calls for funding mechanisms and sources that increase resources for research without eating into funding for public health services. Encourages public health training centers, schools of public health, public health institutes and other health schools to actively reduce barriers to and increase engagement with state and local health agencies.

20172 Supporting the National Physical Activity Plan — With data showing that many American youth and adults still do not engage in recommended levels of physical activity, calls for supporting the National Physical Activity Plan, which was last updated in 2016. Encourages the establishment of an office of physical activity and health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as resources that allow the office to provide effective national leadership. Urges the creation of a comprehensive surveillance system for monitoring compliance with physical activity guidelines as well as the status of polices and programs that promote physical activity. Encourages the development and distribution of a physical activity report card that examines the status of physical activity promotion efforts as well as the development of physical activity plans at the local, state and national levels.

20173 Support for universal preschool — With more than 60 percent of American 4-year-olds not having access to publicly funded preschool programs and knowing that education is a key social determinant of health, calls for federal, state and local government to implement a voluntary, universal and publicly funded preschool programs based on sliding fee scales for all preschool-age children regardless of citizenship status. Urges governments and preschools to ensures high-quality preschool standards, and calls on federal, state and local officials to make sure preschool teachers and staff are prepared to work with children and are paid livable wages. Calls on state and local school districts to create and implement anti-racist, culturally relevant and trauma-informed approaches in preschool. Encourages collaborations between health professionals, community health centers and preschool programs to support wrap-around services such as immunizations and health screenings.

20174 Reforming workers’ compensation — With changes to state-based workers’ compensation programs making it increasingly difficult for injured workers to access the benefits to which they are entitled, calls on Congress to appoint a new National Commission to study shortcomings in state-run workers’ compensation programs and update recommendations regarding coverage, benefit adequacy and compensation for occupational injury and illness. Urges the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to reinstate publication of its evaluation of state compliance with national recommendations, and calls on Congress to enact legislation requiring DOL to propose national minimum standards for state workers’ compensation programs. Urges state governments to assure universal coverage in workers’ compensation laws and remove language that excludes certain workers from coverage, such as seasonal agricultural workers, home health care workers and contractors.

20175 Appropriate language in worker safety — Considering that foreign-born workers are a growing segment of the U.S. workforce and experience some of the highest on-the-job fatality rates of any worker population, calls for achieving language justice in occupational health and safety training materials. Urges the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to strengthen outreach on its 2010 Training Standards Policy Statement and continue to assess whether safety training is conducted in a language and literacy level that workers understand. Encourages the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct further research on the nature, extent and effectiveness of training in the worker’s native language among immigrant populations. Calls for Bureau of Labor Statistics reports and surveys to include language or country of origin to better identify at-risk workers and their native languages.

20176 Occupational inorganic lead standards — Noting that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s inorganic lead standard for general industry has not been updated since 1978 and knowing that even low-level lead exposure among adults is harmful to health, calls for the OSHA action level and permissible exposure level for lead to be based on up-to-date, peer-reviewed science. Encourages OSHA to revise its medical surveillance requirement, including blood testing, so that all workers with potential lead exposures are covered. Urges OSHA to revise clothing and hygiene requirements for lead workers based on up-to-date, peer-reviewed science to reduce worker exposure, minimize lead in and around the workplace, and prevent exposures to members living in a worker’s household. Calls on OSHA and state agencies to increase enforcement to ensure all employers comply with blood lead testing for workers.

20177 Working conditions for food, farm workers — Noting the often-hazardous and unfair working conditions facing workers in the farming and industrial production of food — many of whom are women and people of color — calls on Congress to eliminate language in the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual appropriation that excludes small farms from OSHA oversight and pass legislation that includes farmworkers in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement and enforce the revised Worker Protection Standard and Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule. Encourages the U.S. Department of Labor and state agencies to increase enforcement regarding wage and hour violations in the agriculture and food production industries. Calls on OSHA to adopt regulations that require food production employers to address workplace conditions associated with occupational musculoskeletal injuries.

20178 Housing and homelessness as a public health issue — With homelessness a continuing public health problem in the U.S. and knowing that people experiencing homelessness often struggle with high rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions, calls on federal agencies and state and local service providers to prioritize low-barrier housing access for people who are homeless, with an emphasis on harm reduction strategies. Urges Congress to appropriate funds for rental assistance options, including the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and identify additional funding mechanisms for the National Housing Trust Fund. Calls on federal, state and local agencies to expand commitments to permanent supportive housing programs and the prevention of homelessness. Urges agencies that fund housing and homelessness services to adopt a health-in-all-policies approach to decision-making as well as to identify and adopt alternative solutions to criminalizing homelessness.

20179 Income inequality and health — With income inequality increasing since the 1970s and knowing that income is a key social determinant of health, calls on federal, state and local governments to shift toward progressive taxation to help diminish income inequality and provide funding to mitigate the growing gap. Urges Congress to pass a federal infrastructure spending bill that employs people in repairing deteriorating infrastructure and building public service, transportation, renewable energy and health systems. Encourages Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, and urges employers to support more equitable compensation and enhance worker satisfaction and advancement. Calls on federal, state and local governments to invest more in public health education and enact legislation supporting sick and disability leave as well as paid parental leave. Urges academic, public health and health care organizations to increase public awareness of the adverse health effects associated with income inequality.

201710 Protecting children’s environmental health — With children being uniquely vulnerable to harmful environmental exposures, calls on health agencies, organizations as well as research and science institutions to create accessible information in support of action on children’s environmental health. Urges such organizations to identify gaps in current research and calls on local, state and national health agencies to develop actions plan for limiting children’s exposure to harmful environmental exposures. Recommends collaborations between health departments and health care providers and payers to develop systems that ensure lead-safe housing, reduce asthma triggers and reduce return visits to the emergency room. Encourages state or local officials to engage with public health workers to accelerate full lead service line replacement. Calls on the federal, nonprofit and private sectors to use the National Radon Action Plan to reduce radon exposure.

201711 Health effects of air pollution — Considering millions of Americans live in communities where air pollution levels are high enough to harm health, urges Congress to increase funding for Clean Air Act programs and provide greater funding for research on toxic air pollutants in urban areas, particularly among low-income families and people of color. Calls on Congress and the public health community to resist efforts to weaken health protections under the Clean Air Act and urges national ambient air quality standards be based solely on public health considerations. Recommends the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increase its assessment and control of toxic air pollutants and continue efforts to reduce pollutants that deplete the ozone layer. Calls on state and local environmental offices and health departments to collaborate with EPA’s regional offices to remediate environmental justice concerns. Calls on health departments to defend the Clean Power Plan.

201712 Advancing the “One Health” approach — Using a One Health approach that acknowledges the integral connections between humans, animals and the environment — and considering that over half of human infectious disease pathogens have an animal source or origin — calls on federal, state and local public health agencies to communicate and collaborate with agricultural, veterinary and environmental health authorities to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from outbreaks and health emergencies. Encourages regulatory agencies to conduct integrated human, animal and environmental health impact assessments. Urges public health authorities to monitor and detect changing risks to human, animal and environmental health, including the use of geographic information systems and sentinel surveillance systems. Calls on public health schools to provide collaborative training opportunities on human, animal and ecosystem health, and encourages public health authorities to partner with public and private stakeholders to promote One Health solutions.

201713 Environmental health risks in schools — With many children still be being exposed to harmful environmental exposures in schools, calls on state health or environmental agencies to create reporting and investigating mechanisms and urges federal officials to create and implement a tracking systems for children’s environmental exposures in schools. Urges researchers to examine the relationships between school facilities and children’s health and academic performance. Encourages environmental health specialists to work with education leaders, teachers’ unions, college and university faculty, and public health workers to develop guidance on recognizing, remediating and reporting environmental hazards in schools. Calls on federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Education, as well as national organizations to convene a standards-setting body, and calls on state agencies to adopt standards consistent with such a standards-setting body.

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