Reported by: Kelley James, Kanistha Chatterjee and Ja’i Watson
The University of Cincinnati Education and Research Center’s 13th annual Pilot Research Project (PRP) Symposium brought together scientists and local professionals to discuss a wide range of health related topics. The poster sessions, with submissions from environmental health, engineering and occupational health, showcased the excellent research being performed throughout the Tristate region.
Following the academic sessions, the picnic brought together students, professors and professionals in a networking opportunity. Networking through the PRP provides an opportunity for students to develop ties to established peers in their field, and the opportunity to strengthen the existing ties.
After another successful PRP symposium, thanks due to the hosts Drs. Bhattacharya and Reponen, and hardwork by PRP coordinator Cyndy Cox and PRP student volunteers, we all look forward to the next PRP.
Keynote Lecture by Dr. Linda McCauley
An important and extremely interesting presentation was performed by the dean of Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Dr. Linda McCauley. Her presentation began with a review of her background the route she has taken to achieve the opportunity to act as the dean of the School of Nursing at Emory University. Dr. McCauley is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Environmental Health program. She has used the experiences and opportunities obtained from professors like Dr. Grace LeMasters and Dr. Carol Rice to advance her career in Occupational Health Nursing and Environmental Health.
Dr. McCauley continued into her presentation by explaining the study she had performed on the health of pregnant agriculture farm workers in south Florida. This study was brought to her attention because of a mortality incident of a young pregnant immigrant worker who had died while performing agricultural farming tasks. She studied two groups: Individuals that worked the fields, collecting crop, and individuals working the storage facilities. The focus of these workers was determined to be the effects of heat stress, ergonomic exposures, and pesticide exposures. She mentioned that as these women worked in agricultural farms which grew ferns for decorative use, they were exposed to extreme heat and constant ergonomic hazards. Women that perform agricultural work with pesticides and crop must wear apron coverings, gloves, and boots to prevent dermal exposure to the pesticides found on the plants. When performing tasks requiring this type of protective gear in around 100°F temperatures, heat stress becomes an extreme concern. These women were not given frequent and sufficient breaks or proper heat and sun exposure protection during breaks. Ergonomic concerns were also noticed. Women were required to repetitively bend past 90° to cut plants for collection. On the other hand, there was a concern for workers performing tasks for indoor storage and packaging. These workers are constantly exposed to the gathered plants in an indoor environment which leads to the conclusion that pesticide exposures will be a problem. But, this became a limitation for Dr. McCauley’s study due to the fact that workers did not want to wear monitoring devices for fear of losing their jobs. These evaluations lead to final results that among other workplace hazards, women were performing hazardous tasks that could possibly lead to injuries within the workplace. The most significant cause of these injuries was heat stress, ergonomic repetitive stress, and pesticide exposure.
Overall, the presentation was extremely interesting and insightful. The presentation showed the importance of environmental health and some of the opportunities health professionals have. Dr. McCauley is a prime example of the achievements that can be attained by individuals involved with the NIOSH-Supported Education and Research Center and the PRP projects. Her study along with her achievements show the advancements and improvements that pilot research projects can add to environmental health and safety within the United States and among individuals around the world.
Keynote Lecture by Dr. Carol Rice
Dr. Carol Rice, PHD, CIH, and a professor emerita of Environmental Health at University of Cincinnati started off the second day of the PRP Symposium as the Keynote Speaker presenting, a Retrospective Exposure Assessment: Making the Best Exposure Estimate Possible with Sparse Data. All in attendance were honored to listen to such an accomplished researcher give a very informative talk on retrospective exposure assessment. Dr. Rice stated that “retrospective exposure assessment may be challenged as more art than science.” During her career she formulated creative approaches using the limited available data, in order to improve the workplace environment. After her talk, Dr. Rice was presented with a memory book signed by all who were thankful for her passion of industrial hygiene, of the ERC, and of her ability to disseminate her knowledge to wide range of audiences.
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Reported by Georganne Kincer
Sappi Somerset Paper Mill, Skowhegan, ME, May 23, 2012
For third year in a row, University of Cincinnati ERC participated in the Historical Perspective Tour organized by New York/New Jersey ERC. This time, also students and faculty from Italy joined the tour. The visits included New Bedford, MA for commercial fishing, Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME, Sappi Paper in Skohegan, ME and Rock of Ages Granite in Barre, VT.
After arriving at the mill we were given a presentation by Skip Pratt, CIH, prior to touring the site. There are five sites within the U.S. and they work with four different unions, the USW, IBEW, IAM, and SPFPA. This mill started up in 1976. The plant is OSHA 18001 certified, which is a management system for safety. We started at the Process Safety Management area where all visitors to the site watch the company safety video. The Somerset Mill normally has 600 employees working at one time during the day and 150 workers at night. Their plant employees work three 12-hour day shifts and then rotate to three 12-hour night shifts with three days off in between.
This mill has three main areas (noted below) and all have their own separate safety issues:
Wood yard, issue biomass;
Pulp mill, issues heat and chemical prep area;
Paper mill, issues are various.
Skip Pratt stated there are ten plant wide safety issues:
Evacuation and emergency response, which includes Hazmat, Fire Brigade, and Confined space rescue, they also have an emergency site call number 5222
Smoking and substance abuse policy
Personal protective equipment
Chemical awareness, they have MSDS’ for all chemicals on-site
Housekeeping, they have a tool inspection program and work areas are maintained daily or as needed
Slips, trips, and falls, they have barricades with tags to warn of issues
General worker responsibility, no horseplay is tolerated
Lock out/tag out, Confined space, Hot-work permit, and Product safety plan
Security, they have a well-trained team, they are responsible for coordinating emergency response system
Major chemicals on-site include chlorine dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, aqua ammonia, VAC (sodium chloride), methanol. Also present on site are steam pipes at 540o, and many moving objects and equipment. Major ergonomic issues include wrist, lifting, neck and backs, and office personnel.
Their medical surveillance is contracted out. The local hospital is approximately five miles away so quick response is available in case of emergencies.
May 24, 2012 – Rock of Ages Granite Quarry and Hope Cemetery, Barre, VT
The Rock of Ages Granit Quarry was the E.L. Smith Quarry from 1880 to 1947 prior to being purchased. This quarry has all gray granite with four distinct shades. The darker shades are used for memorials and the lighter shades are used for statuary.
They normally have 25 employees on site and they work in crews of four to six people. These crews work independently. Each employee is tied off when anywhere close to an edge, so no one has fallen from the quarry in 30 years. The quarry’s work season is from March through November; they are off from December 15th through the end of February. Also, they never work during thunderstorms due to possible lightning strikes. The average salary is approximately $65,000 per year.
A small example of the slabs removed is shown in above picture. The lines in the granite are drill marks. Normally these slabs are 18 to 25 ft. in height and greater than 45 ft. long. When drilling a natural joint in the granite is followed so that the section removed has no joint in it. The compressor building shown above feeds air down to the quarry for drilling, next to the building is the cooling pond for the compressor.
The 175 ft. tall derrick above is used to lift and move the granite slabs. They remove 375,000 cubic ft., or 18 million lbs. of granite from this site yearly and there is still enough granite left to supply needs for approximately 4,500 years. In the picture to the right above is an example of 100-year-old (or older) piles of “grout.” This is what the quarry used to do with granite waste. Piles like these are all over the area. This waste granite is now being harvested and crushed up for use as road stone.
They “have to chase the stone” as they are drilling. The ground in the picture below left was level in the 1860s with the rest of the tree line. The dark streaks running down the stone is “hard water” that seeps through the natural joints in the granite. The turquoise water at the bottom is this water filled with sediment and is about 60 ft. deep. When needed the water is just pumped out. In the picture to the right below the water is dark green; it is an older section where the sediment has settled to the bottom.
The company has a respirator surveillance program and there has not been a case of silicosis in 40 years. Common injuries that occur are repetitive muscular injuries, broken fingers, and sprains.
Back at the Rock of Ages main building where work is done on monuments and statues. “Nuisance dust was noted around the building.
Lastly, we toured the Hope Cemetery and above are just a couple of examples of the interesting monuments constructed for individuals. Mr. Bettini had a copy of his favorite chair made and encouraged visitors to the cemetery to set in it. The guide shared with us that they no longer allow any other granite to be used for these except that mined from Rock of Ages quarry.
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All ERC students who participated in the Interdisciplinary Workshop or had research projects funded through the Targeted Research Training (TRT) program or were completing MS or PhD research presented their findings at the annual symposium, May 29.
Qualitative Assessment of Firefighter Knowledge Regarding Cardiovascular Health and Tools Used
The presentations will be posted, and a link added here when they are available.
The first day: the Wild and Crazy World of Coke
Students and faculty met in the Kettering parking lot at 9:00 a.m. and took a one-hour bus ride to the winery.
After arriving at Ertel Cellars we were greeted by the staff and treated to their complimentary wine tasting, giving us the opportunity to network while waiting for the tour to begin.
Grape vines (P) can last from 50 to 100 years. Every year starting around the 15th of January Gary Ertel prunes back 95% of the vines by hand. To protect the vines from bugs and funguses they have to be sprayed, which is usually done on a 10 day program. The program is very strict that a day cannot be missed. The winery does not have a special air filtration system except that when the forklift is used or as needed the “garage door” (Q) is opened for airflow. Most injuries that occur are “cuts” from the sharp metal edges on the tanks and other machinery. The crusher (A) is taken apart to be cleaned. To clean the tanks (I, J, K), the press (E) and the milk churn (H) someone needs to climb inside and scrub them down. The sides of the bottler (N) open up for cleaning. Only large amounts of fresh water and scrubbing are used to clean the machines. They do not use a lock out/tag out system. The machines are unplugged and sometimes moved outside for cleaning. Excluding the seasonal pickers the winery has only 2 full-time employees. The restaurant has 37 full-time and part-time employees including 3 chiefs, 6-7 kitchen staff, dishwashing staff, a hostess, 1-2 tasting bar staff and servers.
After the tour we all sat down to a delicious lunch from Ertel’s Bistro and enjoyed each other’s company before the bus ride back to Kettering. This was a great learning experience and hopefully those of you who missed it this year will have an opportunity to go next year.
by Peggy Berry, OHN doctoral program
work by Chris Sparks, photos by Brenda Walker
On May 27, Brenda Walker (Occupational Health Nursing) and Chris Sparks (Hazardous Substances) attended the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center open house to celebrate the new location on Vine Street at 12th Street downtown. Chris has worked diligently over the past few months to get the new bulletin board set up and stocked, and here it is…installed:
Stop by and visit the Center. We continue to attend the monthly meetings, and have now gotten back on track for counting the cards removed. We look forward to reports from Brenda Walker that many are disappearing to be used by members and other workers.
On April 28 ERC students and faculty joined labor to remember the lives of 12 workers who went to work healthy one day during the past year, and did not come home. The annual Cincinnati commemoration is organized by the UAW Local 647 and the Cincinnati AFL-CIO.
The support of the local AFL-CIO and its unions during the past year is very much appreciated by the ERC.