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National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety, April 14-15 and April 16-17

Written by: Amy Turner (April 14-15) and Chris Sparks (April 16-17)

April 14-15:
Chris Sparks and I had the pleasure of attending the first ever National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety in Houston, Texas. This conference was sponsored by OSHA and the CDC. The purpose of this conference was to educate construction, farm, and manufacturing employers, health and safety professionals, and government officials of the horrible working conditions, wage theft, and treatment that a lot of Latino workers are subjected to.
The two days were spent attending workshops where we could learn how to effectively educate and reach out to Latino workers, learn what the worker’s rights are under OSHA and Department of Labor, and free resources available to small businesses to help them reach out to Latino workers.
The conference opened on Wednesday April 14 with a welcome speech from Dr. David Michaels (Assistant Secretary OSHA) and Dr. John Howard (Director of NIOSH). The most eye-opening part of the address was a panel of 5 Latino workers discussing first hand experiences. They all agreed that they were afraid of telling their bosses about unsafe work conditions for fear of being fired. One of the panelists became physically disabled from being forced to clean 25-30 hotel rooms in a matter of 8 hours. Another man, a construction worker, injured his hand with a nail gun. His supervisor directed him to go home, where the man pulled the nail from his own hand because his employer wouldn’t send him to the doctor.   See http://www.osha.gov/latinosummit/2010latino-summit.html for slide show provided by OSHA of Summit events.
The keynote address was given by the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. Secretary of Labor Solis was adamant that this government administration was not going to tolerate preventable workplace fatalities and injuries. She stated that the Latino community looses approximately 14 workers per week due to fatalities and disabling injuries. In addition, she believes that Latino workers are not being awarded for hard work, instead they are being ignored. 
Chris and I also got the pleasure of attending a dinner at the local union house on Wednesday night. There, we met with Interfaith and Worker’s Right Groups from across the nation to discuss ways to improve Latino worker rights, as well as health and safety on the job. It was amazing how much some of these groups have accomplished. One group from San Francisco lobbied for the city to increase the minimum wage, which they did!
In addition to the workshop classes, we attended a lunch session on Thursday which included another panel of speakers which included the Corporate Safety Director of Holder Construction, the President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the Director of the Workers Defense Project in Austin, TX. This panel discussed how too many Latino workers are hurt on the job and taken advantage of. It is very easy for some employers just to “wash their hands” of some employees when they get hurt. The main issue that the Director of the Workers Defense Program saw was that our government policy doesn’t want to work on Latino worker health and safety, instead they want to focus on immigrant documentation. The health and safety of our immigrant workers and immigration reform go hand-in-hand; without fixing one, we can’t fix the other.   From the panel, I learned that workers aren’t afraid of coming forward if they have the support of local organizations, just like our local Cincinnati Interfaith Center.   
This conference was a great experience that opened my eyes wider to the problems Latino and immigrant workers face in the workplace. It’s not just about wage loss and discrimination, it’s about employers taking responsibility for keeping their workers safe. 
April 16-17
After the Summit ended many local interfaith and COSH (Coalitions/Committees for Occupational Safety and Health) groups organized a conference of their own, aimed at ensuring that the ideas and opinions expressed by the government representatives were not just statements, but were actually implemented. The conference included interfaith and COSH groups from around the country including Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Miami, Los Angeles, Memphis, Chicago, Houston. These groups expressed the fear that, while the OSHA Summit was a much needed and appreciated step in the right direction, without constant pressure from the worker right’s groups, these ideas would remain words instead of action. 
The conference consisted of many group discussions ranging from general worker rights, worker safety, wage theft, and cooperation amongst the groups to further the ability to implement change. During the two workshop sessions on Friday, April 16, I was privileged to hear from many workers and worker rights advocates regarding real-life wage theft and mistreatment of workers.
One specific worker talked about her time as a homecare worker. The worker opened her heart as she spoke of mistreatment from the alcoholic homeowners and how she dealt with mistreatment of herself as well as the children. The family would pay her $100 per week as she cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and watched over the children. She stated that she even had to lock away the alcohol after witnessing one of the children following her father as he laid half full glasses of wine on the floor where the child could drink the contents. Thanks to the Houston Interfaith group, the worker found comfort in telling her story and great pride as she was removed from the situation. However, she was forced to relocate, leaving the children in that situation and starting a new life in an unfamiliar environment. The story was heart wrenching, and is only one of thousands to be told. 
The group came to a conclusion that the movement to ensure Latino worker safety and health must be pushed along through these worker rights and interfaith organizations. While the representatives of unions and government voiced their desire to help institute change, the groups know that the change will not evolve without constant pressure from these organizations. A commitment was made to cooperate as much as possible and to involve as many people as possible in the movement, including the public. By making the general public aware of the working conditions for many Latino workers, the groups felt as though support would surely follow. 
The experience was new to me, as I was not previously aware of the scope of this aspect of health and safety. I met and interacted with many great people from all walks of life with one goal in mind; to prevent mistreatment and unsafe working conditions for Latino workers across America. The personal accounts of real life situations really brought to life the impact of these conditions, and made me aware of the challenge ahead. While the challenge is daunting, the determination and commitment shown by the members of these organizations will surely implement change. The biggest hurdle is to get the regulatory authorities on board with the groups and make Latino worker safety and health a priority.

Environmental Justice Tour: April 9, 2010

By Cynthia Betcher, Occupational Health Nursing student

Eleven participants travelled to Louisville, Kentucky on April 9, 2010 for the Environmental and Social Justice Tour (EJT).  ERC students, faculty, an advisory board member and representative from ICWUC participated.
The tour guide was David Overbey, PhD, a literature professor at Louisville’s Bellarmine University.  The purpose of the EJT was to promote awareness of the need for protection in all environmental regulations without racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic discrimination; low-income and minority populations have historically been the target of many sources of pollution and the situation in Louisville is no exception.
The City
The tour began with a drive down Broadway and noting the dramatic change in the appearance of conditions as we passed from the affluent East Side of Louisville near Bellarmine, to the run-down and poverty-stricken West End. Dr. Overbey explained that Louisville’s West End used to be where everyone lived (all races), the center of life for the city. In the 1930s, most people used the trains to get around the city. He said that after World War II, residents were encouraged to use private automobiles for transportation and eventually the train station was closed. He added that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which promoted desegregation, ironically caused some more affluent Caucasians to move to the East End and the African American population and poorer residents remained in the West End; the Hispanic population settled mostly in the South Side.
History of West End Louisville Industry
In 1918, the petrochemical industrialization began in west Louisville with the construction of a Standard Oil refinery (now Chevron terminal and tank farm). Over the next two decades additional refineries were built and purchased by Ashland Oil. World War II created a demand for rubber for the construction of military aircraft and tanks. Under the supervision of the US Office of Production Management, the government either built synthetic rubber plants or purchased them from their original owners, investing $92.4 million in Louisville. The first plant to be built was National Carbide in 1941, which used limestone and petroleum coke to produce acetylene gas. The acetylene gas was used as feedstock for a neoprene synthetic rubber plant built by E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. that same year. Also in 1941, BF Goodrich began construction and produced a synthetic rubber made from vinyl chloride, called Koroseal. Other companies such as Goodrich joined in making various types of “nitrile” rubber from acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. When WWII broke out in December of 1941, the government took over the DuPont plant. In 1943, the federal government opened what is now the American Synthetic Rubber Plant to make styrene-butadiene rubber tires to be used by the Department of Defense. Rubber was used for tires and vinyl for seats. The west end area of Louisville became known as “Rubbertown.”
Chemical Plants and Toxic Waste
As the tour bus approached the industrial section of the West End it became evident that chemical plants and their toxic waste were very close to residential communities.
The Morris Foreman Wastewater and Sewage Plants displayed risk communication signs such as “private property” and “no trespassing” on the fences and gates. The tour group was told that it took 30 years to fix the water treatment plant and clean it up so that it was safe for residents. Ashland, Zeon Chemicals, Chevron, Lubizol and Chemco are all located in the vicinity.
Local Residents
As the local residents observed the tour bus parked near a superfund toxic dumping site, they came out of their houses and asked what the group was doing. They were glad to assist with increasing awareness of the hazardous condition of the area and were eager to share their stories. One resident showed the tour group an advertisement from 1926 picturing a newly constructed resort, “Riverside Gardens” for wealthy Louisville residents with a clubhouse and cottages overlooking the beautiful Ohio River.
One woman explained that due to the chemical plants and air emissions the resort cottages were abandoned and the clubhouse was later converted to a church where she was married.  
Reports of Hazardous Conditions
One gentleman reported growing up in a house by the river and they always planted a flower garden; later learning there was a “no dig law” for the area. An attorney introduced himself and explained that he is helping the residents to expose the continuation of the toxic conditions despite the government funding of $2.2 million dollars to clean up the nearby former landfill and illegal dumping grounds. Several of the cars in the neighborhood displayed handicapped stickers. Residents told of relatives who lived in the area and have health problems, primarily  neurological deficits and according to the residents Louisville’s highest cancer rates. Two of the reported high rates of birth defects, learning disorders, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders among residents. The EPA verified the presence of methane and other toxic gasses and in 1975 residents of eight homes were evacuated due to the explosive levels of methane. Residents now report “little volcanoes” in their yards which they associate with continued high methane gas levels, as well as the groundwater around the riverbank having a substance that “looks oily and feels rubbery.”
Summary
In the world today, many enjoy unprecedented material goods and wealth. Yet, with many of these benefits comes a high human and environmental cost largely borne by the poor and the marginalized. Awareness of the environmental degradation and social injustice that can occur was the result of this tour. The University of Cincinnati Educational Research Center faculty and students encourage collaborations between Bellarmine faculty and students, as well as the Louisville community to foster rigorous analysis of social, economic, racial and environmental justice issues and promote human rights and conflict resolution at the local and national levels.
Reference
Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development. (2010). Environmental   
justice Louisville, Kentucky. Unpublished manuscript.
(See additional blog entry regarding the first EJT of Louisville at the beginning of this blog. In collaboration with community residents and LaVerne Mayfield of the ICWUC, the UC ERC plans to develop a tour of Greater Cincinnati.)    

NIOSH Collaborations in a Globalized World--special seminar

Dr. Marilyn Fingerhut, coordinator of the NIOSH Global Collaboration Program, discussed ‘NIOSH Collaborations: Occupational Health and Safety in a Globalized World’ with ERC EOH and OSHE students and faculty on April 6. 

World-wide only 10-15% of the 2.7 billion workers have access to occupational health and safety services. An estimated 4% of the global gross domestic product is lost due to workplace fatalities and injuries annually. Working within the various roles and responsibilities of United Nations Organizations, US and European agencies, employers, labor unions and international profession organizations substantial benefits to workers in multiple locations can result from collaboration. A primary mechanism is the World Health Organization Global Network of Collaborating Centers, with a central goal of ‘Occupational Health for All’. The network includes government, research, professional and academic institutions from 37 countries and three international professional associations (see http://www.who.int/occupational_health/network/cc_address_list_2822008.pdf.) 
 
            A Global Plan of Action has been developed, and guides the activities in the current work period  of 2009-2012. The five objectives are: to devise and implement policy instruments on worker’ health; to protect and promote health at the workplace; to improve the performance of and access to occupational health services; to provide and communicate evidence for action and practice; to incorporate workers health into non-health policies and projects. More information is shown at http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA60/A60_R26-en.pdf. Projects associated with each priority can be found at http://www.who.int/occupational_health/cc_compendium.pdf .
 
 
                 Dr. Fingerhut, during the presentation
 
Several success stories were described. In Chile, a country-wide plan has been adopted to eliminate silicosis. A national laboratory has been set up and a program to train physicians to read chest films to detect silicosis and document their skill has been implemented. Respiratory protection training, exposure control methods, surveillance and spirometry training are also part of the initiative. A library is being created ( www.geolibrary.org) to make health and safety materials available; currently 800 items are included, in several languages. Strategies to reduce roadway accidents have also been successful, and 200 Road Safety materials are accessible through the library or at www.roadsafetyatwork.org. Following pilot work in South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam, the program Protecting Health Care Workers Globally has been expanded to Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Egypt and Afghanistan. A guiding principle of the collaborative work is to create materials and tools that are simple and useful.
 
It was terrific to learn how involved NIOSH is in global health and safety, and to better understand the Global Plan of Action. 

Heat Stress Firefighter Interdisciplinary Project

 

by Kristin Musolin, D.O.
 
It is time to update everyone on our Heat Stress Firefighter Research Project.   (See summer posting at the beginning of our blog, below.)
Our interdisciplinary research team includes an Occupational Medicine Resident, two Industrial Hygiene students, and an Occupational Nursing student.   The research team started on the project in July 2009 with our faculty advisor Dr. Amit Bhattacharya.   We are all shown here, during recent data collection: 
Todd Ramsey(hygiene), Dr. Bhattacharya, Dr. Musolin, Diane Busch James (nursing), Ashutosh Mani (hygiene).
The purpose of this project is to identify early criteria for evaluating the effect of heat stress on the cardiovascular, neuromuscular and cognitive systems of firefighters using various outcome measures.   Firefighters are exposed to thermal hazards during actual fire suppression and fire rescue.   For example, we know through the literature review that the firefighters’ personal protective equipment such as their suit and respiratory gear add to the thermal impact on the body.   Early detection of heat stress is important to help prevent firefighters from potentially dangerous outcomes, especially death from a cardiovascular event. 
           Image taken during simulated rescue in a smoke-filled space
To determine the effects of heat stress on the cardiovascular system, we are measuring pre/post blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, body mass index, and core body temperature using a radio pill during their regularly scheduled training drill. I must say that I was intrigued by the fact that a FDA regulated radio pill would be involved in measuring core body temperature.   The radio pill also called the telemetric pill was designed to sense the body’s temperature and transmit through a radio wave signal to a receiver. By using the radio pill, we are able to collect accurate temperature measurements every 10 seconds to hour intervals during physical activities. Interestingly, the concept of the radio pill was developed from NASA to monitor astronauts during space walking.   The radio pill usually remains in the gastrointestinal tract for one to two days and in the 1980’s they actually had to retrieve the pill and reuse them! Fortunately, CorTemp developed a radio pill that is more affordable and no retrieval is necessary. Surprisingly, the subjects do not know when the CorTemp radio pill is passed, but would know by simply using the receiver to detect a signal.
To determine the effects of heat stress on the neuromuscular system, we are using the Inertial Link Sensor to detect 3D motion parameters continuously during their training drill. It is a wireless sensor that tracks real-time data to be recorded possessing the ability to sense the subject’s orientation and positioning. Some digital output formats include linear and angular acceleration, velocity and orientation. Also, we are using the Berg Balance Scale to measure impairment in balance function by assessing functional tasks. The scale was developed initially to measure balance in community dwelling older people. 
To determine the effects of heat stress on the cognitive system, we are using various cognitive scales as well as a cognitive performance test pre and post tasks during their training drill. The cognitive scales include the Borg, Respiratory Distress, and Thermal Comfort scale.   The cognitive performance test is a standardized assessment based on the Allen Cognitive Disability Theory to detect change in response to an event.  
IRB approved our project a couple months ago. We had never gone through the IRB process before this. We found the “IRB” process to be somewhat straightforward. The IRB representatives were very helpful in answering our questions.   By going through this process, it assisted us in getting much of our project tasks completed.   It really depends on the scope of the study. For example, because our project included ingestion of a radio pill, it was much more complicated and more IRB forms needed to be completed to ensure the safety of the subjects.
We are excited to say that we completed our first data collection in March 2010. 
                     Ashutosh Mani monitors data collection on the laptop.
 
The next one will be in June 2010 and I think we will be better prepared for the second collection. The fire chief at the participating fire department has been extremely helpful and engaged in the research project.   Lastly, we will be attending the Firefighter Symposium on April 28, 2010 and can discuss more about our project then. 
Look here for another update in June.
 

ERC Travels Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

By Robin DeJager-Kennedy

On March 13th, 2010, University of Cincinnati ERC faculty and students from the Industrial Hygiene and Engineering programs followed the Kentucky Bourbon trail to visit three of the eight distilleries included in the trail. 

In picture: 1st row from left- Jay Jones, CIH,  Brenda Jones, Robin DeJager-Kennedy, Tiffany Beddoe, Nathan Schneider; 2nd row- Amy Turner, Dr. Sue Davis, Simon Chan, Trinity Hochstetler, Don Goins; 3rd row-Bryan Staley,  Jim Bowen, Heather Hochstetler, Rachel Jordon, Eric Glassford, Mike Martin.

The trip began with an early departure from Cincinnati in order to make the first tour offered at the Four Roses Distillery. The tour began with a video explaining the process of making bourbon, including the federal laws related to the production of bourbon. These include a grain mixture consisting of at least 51% corn, containing no additives, and must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. The laws that relate to the production of bourbon were one fact that was repeated at each stop on the tour. In addition, the process of making whiskey was very similar.

The process of making bourbon begins with the milling of the grain. Grains used in the making of bourbon whiskey include corn, rye, and malted barley. The grains are first milled, then added to water and cooked to begin the process of turning the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars.

Left: Samples of the different grains used (Woodford). Right: Mash cooker (Four Roses).

Next the yeast is added to the mash, and the mixture is transferred to the fermentation vats.

Left: Yeast being prepared. Right: Fermentation vats (both Four roses).

One impressive feature is that the entire process at Four Roses can be controlled by just one person through the extensive use of computers.

After the fermentation is complete in around 3-5 days, the mash begins the distilling process. Four Roses and Wild Turkey both use a double distilling process, while Woodford Reserve uses triple distilling. Double distilling begins with a beer still, followed by a pot still. The triple distilling done by Woodford uses all pot stills.

Left: Beer still (Four Roses) Right: Pot stills (Woodford).

After the distilling process is complete, the “high wine,” as the distillers call it, more commonly known as “moonshine,” or “white lightning”, is transferred to the charred oak barrels, for aging up to 12 years for the distilleries we visited. One reason that older whiskey is more expensive is that during the aging process, as much as 10-15 gallons can be lost to evaporation; the transfer into and out of the wooden barrel staves as temperatures change during the seasons causes the discoloration seen on older barrels. The distillers call this the “angels share.”

Left: Wild Turkey aging house. Right: Woodford aging house.

Both: Inside Woodford aging house.

After leaving Four Roses, the next stop was Wild Turkey.

 

The group at Wild Turkey

 Woodford Reserve was the final stop on the trip, which was also the oldest of the distilleries visited. They have the longest barrel run of the distilleries, at over 500 yards. This is used to easily transport the empty barrels to the filling station, then move the full barrels to the aging warehouse.

Both: Woodford Reserve barrel runs

Regarding health and safety at the locations, some questions were raised about the level of CO2 produced in the fermentation process. One tour guide explained that the windows were opened whenever the weather allowed for it to promote fresh air exchange. The amount of CO2 being produced was high enough that the emissions were visible when the air in the fermentation room was disturbed. When the guides at other distilleries were asked about CO2 monitoring, they said none was in place.  The filled barrels weigh 500 pounds.  In some locations, lifts were available for the barrels; manual handling was also observed.  

Overall, the distilleries appeared to have safe operations. There was ample signage to indicate hot surfaces, enclosed spaces, and areas with fire potential.

Overall it was a great trip, even with the dreary weather we had. Very educational and tasty (for us bourbon lovers), now we just need to arrange a trip to visit the other 5 distilleries. Thanks Heather for setting it all up!   

Students, faculty and NIOSH go underground...

by Nicholas Newman, D.O.

Over spring break, March 25-26, 2010 a multidisciplinary group of University of Cincinnati students from the industrial hygiene, engineering students, occupational health nursing, and an occupational and environmental medicine resident visited two facilities in Western Kentucky—a trip coordinated by Bruce Taylor, Safety Director at Dotiki Mine and Robert Gray of the District 10 MSHA office. During this two day trip, the group met up with a smaller group of hygiene students from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. In preparation for the visit, the group shared presentations regarding mine safety and health, the history of the Dotiki mine, as well as presentations on the rules and regulations relevant to coal mining. Following an uneventful but wet bus ride from Cincinnati through a spring rainstorm, we arrived in Madisonville, KY.

On March 25th the group visited the coal prep plant at Warrior Coal.  This plant is capable of processing over 1400 tons of coal per hour. This process washes the coal of the contaminating soil, ash, and rock. Thus improving its market value and decreasing its transportation costs. The prep plant uses over 70 million gallons of water per day and is able to recycle all but 1.5 million gallons of water daily. This plant is highly automated with the operation overseen by one person, with others available for ongoing routine maintenance during plant operation. After and orientation and safety training with Jamie Woodruff, we walked to the top of the plant and then followed the coal down, guided by Plant Manager Brad Taliaferro.
                    Safety training and dedication to the Kentucky Wildcats!
                                  Exterior of the preparation plant
 
                          Interior of the prep plant, final stages of washing
 
On March 26th, we visited the underground mine at Dotiki. We were welcomed by General Manager Mark Evans and his assistant Gary Thweatt. After the appropriate safety orientation from our knowledgeable safety coordinators at Dotiki, we suited up in Tyvek suits, mine hats and boots, eye protection, and hearing protection and headed to the elevator to make the 700+ foot descent into the Dotiki mine. From the base of the elevator, we rode in diesel-powered vehicles for about 45 minutes (about 6 miles and 300 feet deeper) to the working face of the mine. Guides with us underground were: Bruce Taylor, Chris Gunn, Danny Key and Robert Gray. 
  Bruce Taylor, safety director, showing the escape roping to be followed in an emergency
 
                                        Ready to go with mine lights and guides!
 
Dotiki is mined in a room and pillar pattern. It is mined using a continuous mining method and is the largest coal mine in the United States using this system. More than 20 miles of belt connect the mine to the Dotiki prep plant, where they can process 1300 tons of coal per hour. 
 
 The author takes over as occupant in the shuttle car, the unit that transfers coal to the belts.
Underground, we observed the escape rope routes and stored self rescuers and visited one of the safe rooms. 
                       Underground stored self rescuers for emergency use
 
  Safe room, with more self rescuers, food, water and fresh air supply.  Miners can stay here for as much as a week, awaiting rescue.  
The Warrior and Dotiki Mine Rescue Teams have won many mine rescue contests, and are very proud of their safety records. Management and the safety leaders impressed us with their   enthusiasm to teach a group of occupational health and safety professionals about their work. This trip was very worthwhile and important in that it illustrated the occupations of coal miners and safeguards to reduce the hazards of the work. The electronic monitoring of miners underground through units attached to the mine cap was illustrated and we observed the computer system above ground.  The newest dust monitors allow miners to visual montor respirable dust concentrations as they work--a great improvement over sending samples away for analysis.
The employees at Warrior and Alliance Coal were very helpful to our group and clearly very proud of the work they do. We will think of them, when we turn on the lights!
 
More photos are shown at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48735496@N05/sets/72157623589453493/

 

 

 

Exposure Assessment Statistics--a three-day short course

 by Megan Lobaugh

Students from Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Safety and Health Engineering, and Epidemiology came together for a short course on Exposure Assessment Statistics. Martha Waters, Aaron Sussell, and Catherine Beaucham, from NIOSH, came to the University of Cincinnati to present a three day workshop on statistics. The workshop began with a pre-test assessing our previous knowledge of statistical distributions, stats terms, and basics of occupational exposure assessment. Following the pre-test, we reviewed basic exposure assessment concepts including key definitions and differences between qualitative and quantitative exposure assessments. In the second section, we moved on to a discussion of exposure sampling designs and the different approaches to obtaining exposure data. Next we reviewed AIHA similar exposure groups (SEGs) and performed a Virtual Walkthrough exercise of a construction site through pictures and brief descriptions. The goal was to collaborate with others in the workshop to qualitatively develop SEGs for the tasks being performed (see the pictures of us performing this exercise below). After lunch the first day, we began our statistics discussion with the normal distribution, its parameters, and calculations. We finished off our first day by reinforcing these concepts through application to a dataset.
   
   
 
        Amy Turner and Don Goins collaborting on a 'virtual walkthrough' to determine similar exposure groups.
 
 
 
 
       Discussing the 'vitual walkthrough' 
 
 
    Martha Waters and Catherine Beaucham leading the group discussion on similar exposure groups determined during the 'virtual walkthrough' exercise.  
 
The second day of our workshop began by reviewing the lognormal distribution and its application in industrial hygiene and quantitative exposure assessment. Again we reinforced the calculations of the lognormal parameters and goodness-of-fit by plotting and working with a dataset. Following our lognormal distribution review, we discussed exposure variability among and between groups and individuals. At this time, we used IHStat to work with several datasets and again review the statistical concepts. Following our work with the statistical concepts and datasets, we finished our second day with discussions of occupational exposure limits (OELs) and the application of statistics in determining exceedance of OELs.
 
The third day of the workshop focused on tying everything together to form an ideal exposure assessment strategy for your particular situation. We also discussed evaluating exposure controls, how to design a sampling plan, comparing pre-control exposure data with post control data, and ongoing evaluations in the workplace. We finished up our final day with questions and any clarifications the students needed, as well as gave us time to ask questions specific to our own research.
 
This workshop was a great review and application of statistical concepts presented in a fashion which made it easy for us to learn and truly understand the material.   All students left with a better grasp and understanding of statistics and what the numbers really mean. Thank you Martha, Aaron, and Catherine for sharing your statistics and exposure assessment knowledge! 
 
The three day-long sessions were held on February 18, March 4 and March 11 in the Howard Ayer Computer Laboratory at Kettering.

Research Capacity Building...

2010 Pilot Research Program (PRP)
Research Capacity Building Workshop

In our concerted effort to build the skills of trainees and junior faculty to secure research funds, we facilitate an annual workshop on the University of Cincinnati campus. Each PRP partner university can send two researchers to the two-day workshop. The 5th Annual workshop was held on March 22-23, at the Department of Environmental Health (Kettering Laboratory), on the College of Medicine campus. A total of 12 participants including 8 PhD students and 4 assistant professors attended the workshop.

Dr. Jack Kues, Assistant Senior Vice-President for Continuing Professional Development, Assistant Dean for Continuing Medical Education and Professor of Family Medicine served as a presenter on the “nuts and bolts” of the workshop for researchers. This year one of the major foci of the workshop was to orient the participants about the new review process and scoring system utilized by NIH and CDC/NIOSH. The two-day curriculum provided participants with “hands-on” experience about how and where to look for funding sources, development of a justifiable budget, strategies to utilize to enhance the significance and impact of the proposed research project, strategies for effectively responding to the reviewer’s comments in a resubmission, and dos and don’ts of the research grant development process. Additionally, faculty members supported by the Cincinnati ERC and others provided the participants insight into two topic areas: 1) “An Engineering Approach for Resolving Occupational Health Problems” given by Dr. Rupak Banerjee, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering and 2) translational or research to practice grant funding opportunities at University of Cincinnati/Children’s Hospital’s CCTST/CTSA program (Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training/Clinical and Translational Science Awards) given by Dr. Joel Tsevat, Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research.

              Dr. Banerjee illustrates the aspects of capacity building.

  Dr. Tsevat (left) and Dr. Kues providing internet resources to participants.

Participants were given the opportunity to network and ask additional questions on a one-on-one basis with all of the workshop presenters as well as some of the faculty members from the University of Cincinnati. We also encouraged participants to submit a proposal for the next PRP Request for Proposals round.

And here is feedback from a participant…, doctoral student Ashutosh Mani:

Entering into the PhD program at Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, I had no idea how a grant works. All I knew about grants is that some institutions fund research somehow. I was unaware of the fact that writing a good grant takes a lot more than just good science. I attended the first Pilot Research Program (PRP) in fall of 2008. So, after attending the PRP this year, I came to know about the grant writing seminar held in Spring Break.

I attended the Workshop, expecting to learn something about grants beyond the basics. It was a very good learning experience for me. I learned about writing and reviewing grants. I was glad that the speakers mentioned some of the unwritten trade secrets about writing grants that would help one in the long run. Listening to speakers talking about their real life experiences gave me a peek into the issues one would face in the real world. The workshop was also a good front for building one’s network as researchers from different fields attended. I look forward to attending the next workshop as that would be really helpful for me when I write a grant of my own in future.

 

Construction Safety Day

The 11th Annual ACI/OSHA Construction Safety Day conference, A Lasting Impression

By Todd Ramsey
On Tuesday February 16th the 11th Annual Allied Construction Industries/ OSHA Safety Day was held at the Sharonville Conference Center despite inclement weather. The following members UC’s AIHA student chapter attended the conference: Joe Hoffman, Amy Turner, Heather Hochstetler, Ashutosh Mani, Tiffany Beddoe, and Todd Ramsey. Cynthia Betcher from the occupational health nursing program also attended. 
 
Hygiene students: Amy Turner, Ashutosh Mani, Joe Hoffman, Todd Ramsey, Heather Hochstetler and Tiffany Beddoe; photographed by Cynthia Betcher from occupational health nursing.
After braving the icy roads (UC was officially closed!), we all checked in took advantage of many networking opportunities with local construction tradesmen, safety consulting firms, worker’s compensation organizations, and safety equipment suppliers. Examples of the latest advancements in safety equipment technology were on display, accompanied by experts who were willing to answer questions.
 
Amy Turner having her inner ear imaged


             Tiffany Beddoe also having her inner ear imaged
The keynote speaker was David Maxfield of Vital Smarts, who is the author of Silent Danger- the Five Crucial Conversations of a Safety Culture. His presentation was very enlightening, illustrating common communication pitfalls and ways maintain effective commendation, as opposed to going silent.
The program agenda included three break-out sessions during which we were able to choose specialized, topical seminars. I personally attended the seminars on permit-required confined space entry, meth lab safety awareness, and workers comp investigations & surveillance- caught on tape. All three we excellent, but my favorite was meth lab safety awareness. Amy Turner’s favorite seminar of the day was Hazardous Materials and Incidents, presented by Chief Don Bennet of the Hamilton County HAZMAT team. Some other seminars included respiratory protection, trench safety and rescue, evaluation and control of combustible dust, ladder safety, and others. Given the opportunity, I would have attended them all.
All of the students agreed that this was a great experience. Some of even us found leads for future employment! I feel like I learned a lot and got some ideas about my future career. The consensus among our group, when asked if we would attend next year’s construction safety day based on what we experienced at this one, was a big YES.

Manny Halpern, Ph.D., CPE visits as part of interdisciplinary research training...

 

More than 30 ERC students and faculty gathered on November 18th, for discussion with Dr. MannyHalpern, PhD, CPE, of the NYU School of Medicine and the Hospital for Joint Diseases regarding his experience in introducing ergonomics in Environment of Care .  He described the pilot project program which he discusses in his publication “From Research to practice: The application of NIOSH model ergonomic program in a healthcare setting” (Halpern, 2009). He spoke candidly about the challenges of promoting recommendations for improved ergonomics in the workplace. 
Dr. Halpern discussed process outcomes, facilitators, and potential barriers, including difficulty collecting relevant data and the limitations of OSHA logs, as opposed to lost work time data, to reflect the impact of an ergonomic program, potential employee concerns about their participation in the study, and perceived managerial constraints. He proposed incorporating recommended modifications into capital, rather than operating budgets, in order to sustain the program. Considering ergonomic recommendations in the planning and architectural phases of new and renovation construction of a healthcare facility, as a capital expenditure, results in cost savings for the organization, in reducing occupational musculoskeletal injuries and subsequent lost work time. He indicated that facility financial decision-makers would support “evidence-based architecture” as a cost-effective method of implementing ergonomic recommendations.
In addition, Dr. Halpern introduced an exciting new concept which could impact advancement of NIOSH recommendations in healthcare settings. By focusing on “healthy computing” in a pathology laboratory, he realized that an unexpected outcome of his study was the discovery that ergonomic issues impact patient safety, patient privacy, and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance.   For example, the awkward and uncomfortable position in which lab technician had to enter data into the computer raised the potential for errors, which potentially impacts patient safety. He further discovered that the door to the lab was not wide enough to accommodate wheelchair access, necessitating phlebotomy being performed in the doorway of the lab blocking access to the lab and compromising patient privacy, as well as the musculoskeletal health of the lab technician, who had to perform the task in an awkward position since lighting in the doorway was poor. He concluded that conducting ergonomics in settings where the human being is the ‘work object’, such as healthcare and hospitality services, required a system approach to identify ergonomic problems. Considering the need for a systems approach, Dr. Halpern suggests that there is a need for more research to explore a potential link in healthcare work settings between ergonomic concerns related to employee safety and patient safety, patient privacy, and ADA compliance issues. Dr. Halpern further explained that, historically, NIOSH recommendations affecting patient safety elicit a more rapid response through JCAHO than OSHA enforcement of employee safety regulation. Therefore, an organization may map out those ergonomic concerns related to patient safety, which may affect also employee safety, as a strategy for more effective enforcement of ergonomic recommendations.
Dr. Halpern also toured laboratories and had discussions with students and faculty about on- going and collaborative research. He is a faculty member in the NY/NJ ERC.    
 
 
Reference
Halpern M. (2009). From research to practice: The application of NIOSH ergonomic model      
program in a healthcare setting.  Journal of the Association of Occupational Health
Professionals in Healthcare, 29, 21-24. 
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