According to the CDC, the healthcare industry is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy—employing over 18 million workers. These workers face a range of job hazards such as back injuries, exposure to human pathogens and stress. Many are unique to this industry, such as needle/sharps sticks, latex allergy, or injuries due to patient violence. The CDC states that while many industry sectors have experienced reductions in occupational injury and illness, healthcare workers continue to experience incidents in the workplace, and cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness among to healthcare workers are among the highest of any industry sector.
Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire
In their publication on Office Environment & Worker Safety & Health, NIOSH published that “Maintaining a healthy office environment requires attention to chemical hazards, equipment and work station design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), task design, psychological factors (personal interactions, work pace, job control) and sometimes, chemical or other environmental exposures.
by Barbara Alves
As part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) is founded on a mission “to provide national and world leadership to prevent workplace Illness and Injury”.
On June 8 th, NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) stated that those workers, residents, and student who contracted cancer due to the toxic dust on 9/11 are now considered eligible for free medical treatment for cancers including those affecting respiratory and digestive systems, and other cancers including breast, ovarian, eye, oral, urinary tract cancers, and mesothelioma, melanomas, and lymphomas.
The list of ailments now includes 14 broad categories of cancer and 50 specific types, all of which were formally denied because federal officials stated that scientific evidence showed no link between exposure to 9/11 toxins and disease. First responders have consistently argued that the real reason for denial of coverage is because of cost to the federal government.
NIOSH based its revised decision on recommendations by an expert medical advisory panel who offered their opinions in March 2011. The panel further advised, however, against coverage for brain, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, stating there is not enough evidence to connect them to fall-out from 9/11.
Included in this ruling is the right of cancer sufferers to file claims with the Federal Victim Compensation Fund, which offers compensation to first responders and residents of downtown New York City, as well as students and workers for their out-of-pocket medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Topics: Emilcott, NIOSH, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Emergency Response, toxic dust on 9/11, exposure to 9/11 toxins and an increased risk of c, Homeland Security, Air Monitoring, Zadroga Act, Federal Victim Compensation Fund
At the heart of this research lies an examination of several different types of workers, including nurses, police officers, truck drivers, manufacturing laborers, and white collar workers. Of particular importance to these sleep loss and sleep deprivation studies are those who perform shift work and have night-time work schedules.
Of high interest is the effect of occupational stress and health of police officers studied in Buffalo, New York. Statistically important health issues include tiredness due to lack of quality sleep, especially among those officers who work night shifts, and who report less than six hours of sleep a night. In addition, risk of injury is greater to the night shift workers, because of these unnatural sleep and work schedules
There are several research studies that are either ongoing or have been completed regarding sleep deprivation in truck drivers, manufacturing workers, and even white collar workers. Large amounts of data collected (from long-haul truck drivers especially) show a wide array of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, fatigue and the overall lowered safety expectations from drivers who do not get enough quality sleep.
Another group being studied is American nurses, especially pregnant female nurses. In collaboration with the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, results are showing that an increased number of adverse reproductive outcomes and menstrual cycle abnormalities can be attributed to shift work; especially those studied who work a night shift.
In relation to the sleep deprivation and sleep loss health issues such as fatigue, depression, headaches, malaise, and reproductive issues, the studies point out that work hours that are too long for good health can actually attribute to the decline of healthy white blood cells, which are the first line of defense against such devastating diseases as cancer and autoimmune disorders.
In an effort to stem the adverse health effects and potential safety issues inherent in shift workers and those who work too many hours, NIOSH scientists are seeking development and training programs for managers and workers in several different fields of employ, including those mentioned above. They hope to raise awareness of the problems, encourage healthy sleep habits, and foster a healthier management style that would see more reasonable hours for workers. The dissemination of this information is being brought about through workplace posters, websites, webinars, online training courses, and public service announcements.
Topics: Emilcott, NIOSH, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Sleep and Work Schedules, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Hea, Sleep loss, worker safety, Sleep Deprivation
Recently the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) commissioned a survey of the Occupational Safety and Health workforce and published their findings in a document called the National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce.
NIOSH reports that the need for OSH professionals will greatly outweigh the supply in the very near future. If you minored in economics, like me, then this is a very easy concept of supply versus demand: as more OSH professionals are needed, fewer are beginning OSH careers AND a large proportion of the OSH profession will soon be retiring en masse. Here are some excerpts from the Executive Summary of the survey:
The survey shows that currently there are over 48,000 OS&H professionals in the U.S. workforce across the nine disciplines of interest to this study: The composition of the current OS&H workforce is primarily safety professionals (59%), followed by industrial hygienists (15%). The other major disciplines represented in the survey data were occupational health nursing (9%) and occupational medicine (3%).
Employers expect to hire over 25,000 OS&H professionals over the next 5 years, needing to fill an average of just over 5,000 positions per year;
Employers expect about 10 percent of safety professionals to retire within the next year; for the other OS&H professions the retirement projections are lower.
The workforce is graying, more among occupational physicians and occupational health nurses than safety and industrial hygiene professionals; however, we estimate that a large number of OS&H professionals in these disciplines are over the age of 50."
Now as an OSH professional in the middle of her career my first thought on seeing this, of course, is YAY! JOB SECURITY! Perhaps I can even name my salary ahh, the bliss we all look for in a career. But then the reality hits you a little harder when you think about what the lack of OSH professionals means not only for businesses, worker safety, and public safety but also the impact it will have on our family of OSH professionals. We are already such a small community and we rely on each other as mentors, sources of inspirations/ideas, and friends.
So as much as I would like to name my own salary, Id rather not have that luxury if it means losing this OSH community. Here are a few ideas that we all can do to help us bring in new blood to our OSH family and strengthen the backbone of Public and Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S.
- Pass the word to the younger generation -- visit your kids (or any kids!) school on Career Day or Science Day and talk about what you do. Local schools are actively seeking professionals in scientific fields to model for their students. (Be sure to bring some cool equipment with you!)
- Look for local youth groups, especially those who focus on young people from underprivileged families or communities. These young people may not be aware of careers that involve environmental work or public health which may also benefit their communities.
- Hire or inspire a veteran returning from Iraq or Afghanistan to enter the OSH field. Most returning members of the military have great leadership and organizational skills and are instinctively looking out for unsafe situations. Plus they will be fearless even when faced with a toolbox safety talks for dozens of half-asleep, grouchy construction workers!
- Obtaining financial aid for OSH programs has been cited as a barrier for a lot of people going into the field so also pass along information or tips about NIOSH Training Grants that provide financial support for many academic programs in the OSH field. And, please support scholarship programs offered by professional organizations such as the ASSE and its local chapters. If you have an annual giving plan, why not support your own very important industry?
- Know someone in need of a job or career? Point them in the direction of an OSH career by talking about the wide range of degrees and certificates in our field. These added qualifications range from full-on college degrees to focused training in very specific OSH sectors depending on their interest and undergraduate achievement.
Check out EHSCareers.com Resource Center for a great listing of college/university programs or look at these:
- My alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology, has individual or combined Bachelor/Master Programs in the College of Applied Science and Technology
- University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey offers degrees and certifications through their School of Public Health
- CUNY School of Public Health at the Hunter College
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University's Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health
- Columbia Southern University Online Bachelor and Masters Degrees
- Slippery Rock University Public Health Programs
Emilcott EHS professionals have achieved many certificate-driven designations such as CHMM (Certified Hazardous Materials Manager), CIH (Certified Industrial Hygienist), CSP (Certified Safety Professional), PE (Professional Engineer), CHMP (Certified Hazardous Materials Professional) and CHST (Construction Health and Safety Technician). These certifications and more are offered through universities, online programs, professional organizations and OSHA Training Centers. Here is a list of some common and industry-recognized certification boards:
- The American Board of Industrial Hygiene certifies professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene.
- The Board of Certified Safety Professionals certifies professionals within several designations all related to safety in the workplace. >
- The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management offers several professional certifications that demonstrate various levels of knowledge, expertise, and excellence in the management of hazardous materials.
- The Board of Environmental Auditor Certifications certifies four designation of EHS professionals which demonstrates the competency, professionalism, and ability of EHS auditors.
- The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) an independent nursing specialty certification board and is the sole certifying body for occupational health nurses in the United States and awards four credentials: Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN), Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist (COHN-S), Case Management (CM), and Safety Management (SM).
Like any educational degree, use caution before pursuing any online certificate program from a private business or school as they may not be seen as valid education by many employers. If you are unsure, ask your own supervisor or HR department for guidance before enrollment. There are many certificate programs developed for supervisors already working in industry, such as the California State University Dominguez Hills certification program Occupational Health & Safety for Managers and Supervisors. See if your local college offers something similar. OSHA's website provides information on their Training Centers but also has additional OSH degree and certificate program information. And, a comprehensive directory of possible certifications related to EHS professionals is available from the National Environmental, Safety and Health Association.
Know Your EHS Options and Get Started
Whether you are considering a new career in Occupational Health and Safety or you are looking for a next step in your H&S career, there are many options available for all levels of health and safety professionals from technicians in the field to researchers developing new technologies. A helpful guide for all levels of current and future health and safety professionals is available through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
At Emilcott, even before the study came out, we could see that the local pool of EHS professionals isdwindling and aging. In response, we have instituted a progressive mentoring program to move recent college graduates into the field, we support advanced degrees and certifications by our staff, we are active in our local chapter, we volunteer at school career day presentations, and were recently featured in a career choice video by the Wall Street Journal.
As a health and safety professional, what are you doing to bring fresh faces into our peer group? As an employer, have you instituted formalized plans to recruit and develop your staff? And, as a peer, how are you reaching out into the community to ensure that this profession remains healthy and growing?
Topics: NIOSH, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, health and safety profession, mentor, jobs, career, workforce, H&S, certification, degree, occupational health and safety, OSH, assessment
1. OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.134 details the requirements for a Respiratory Protection Program.
2. A Respiratory Protection Program is mandatory if any employee is required to wear any type of respirator during the course of their job.
3. The establishment and maintenance of a Respiratory Protection Program is the responsibility of the employer and must of: a written program, employee training, fit testing and medical surveillance.
4. All employees who will be issued respiratory protection must be medically cleared to wear a respirator before fit testing and donning a respirator
5. Only respirators which have been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should be used
6. Fit testing for respirators is done to determine the correct size respirator for the employee.
7. Fit testing is required for all positive and negative pressure tight fitting facepieces.
8. Fit testing can be accomplished by using either a qualitative agent (eg Bitrex) or quantitatively (eg., PORTACOUNT®) with a probed face piece.
9. Fit testing must be conducted: prior to initial issuance of a respirator; when a different facepiece is used; when an employees physical changes may affect facepiece fit; and annually thereafter.
10. Employees must conduct a user seal check each time they wear a respirator to assure they have donned and adjusted the facepiece correctly.
Topics: NIOSH, OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Fire Safety, Respiratory, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish, EMT, Fit Testing