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Brooklyn, NY - Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health have determined that two stressful work characteristics, low job control and "job strain" -- that is, high-demand, low-control work -- have been increasing in the U.S. since 2002. The findings were presented at the Seventh International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) Conference on Work Environment and Cardiovascular Diseases, in Varese, Italy, by Paul A. Landsbergis, PhD, EdD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and earlier by lead author and SUNY Downstate Doctor of Public Health candidate Stephanie Myers at SUNY Downstate Research Day in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Landsbergis said, "We determined that two stressful work characteristics, low job control, and 'job strain,' or high-demand, low-control work, have been increasing in the U.S. since 2002. Both of these job stressors are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or CVD." He continued, "This may help to explain why the years-long declines in the incidence of CVD and mortality from CVD have slowed." Dr. Landsbergis added, "We also found an increase in 'work-family conflict,' which likely reflects increasing burdens faced by working parents in the U.S." This is the first analysis looking at trends in work characteristics over 12 years using Quality of Work Life (QWL) surveys developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The four surveys analyzed (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014) are based on representative samples of the U.S. employed population. The full reference for the ICOH presentation is: Myers S, Govindarajulu U, Joseph M, Landsbergis P. Trends in Work Characteristics, 2002-2014: Findings from the U.S. National NIOSH Quality of Work Life surveys (poster). 7th ICOH International Conference on Work Environment and Cardiovascular Diseases, May 4, 2017, Varese, Italy. The abstract of the findings is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 2017, Vol. 24(2S) 4-6; DOI: 10.1177/2047487317698913, on page 51. SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient's bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school. For more information, visit http://www. .


News Article | May 26, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health have determined that two stressful work characteristics, low job control and "job strain" -- that is, high-demand, low-control work -- have been increasing in the U.S. since 2002. The findings were presented at the Seventh International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) Conference on Work Environment and Cardiovascular Diseases, in Varese, Italy, by Paul A. Landsbergis, PhD, EdD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and earlier by lead author and SUNY Downstate Doctor of Public Health candidate Stephanie Myers at SUNY Downstate Research Day in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Landsbergis said, "We determined that two stressful work characteristics, low job control, and 'job strain,' or high-demand, low-control work, have been increasing in the U.S. since 2002. Both of these job stressors are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or CVD." He continued, "This may help to explain why the years-long declines in the incidence of CVD and mortality from CVD have slowed." Dr. Landsbergis added, "We also found an increase in 'work-family conflict,' which likely reflects increasing burdens faced by working parents in the U.S." This is the first analysis looking at trends in work characteristics over 12 years using Quality of Work Life (QWL) surveys developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The four surveys analyzed (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014) are based on representative samples of the U.S. employed population.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

VIENNA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) is pleased to announce Consolidated Edison of New York (Con Edison) has joined the organization’s Board of Directors. Con Edison’s fleet encompasses diverse functions, in diverse vehicles, in both urban and rural New York environments. The company serves more than 3 million customers in an extremely populous 660 square miles making up the city of New York. It also serves more than 300,000 additional customers spread out over 1,350 square miles in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Con Edison’s road safety program focuses on measuring performance and improving safety through a combination of policies, expectations, rewards and interventions, communication and awareness, and oversight and measurement. A core component of the program is the focus on outcome-based metrics, with the assumption that all vehicle crashes are preventable. “Safety and operational excellence are at the core of everything we do to meet our customers’ energy needs, and roadway safety is no exception,” said Gregg Slintak, Con Edison’s Director of Safety, Industrial Hygiene, and Fire Prevention. “Our dense urban driving environment demands unwavering focus, as well as strong commitment to the pursuit of continuous improvement. We’re pleased to join NETS Board of Directors and look forward to partnering with others in the broader mission to improve roadway safety for all users.” “The Board of Directors extends a warm welcome to Con Edison and Gregg Slintak,” said Dane Bremer, NETS Board Chair and Director, Employee Safety & Global Business Continuity, Liberty Mutual. “Always innovating and working to improve road safety for their employees and the public, Con Edison brings additional diversity and Utility sector representation to the board. Collectively, we could not be more pleased and look forward to collaborating as we work to reduce risk and save lives.” NETS Board of Directors members are comprised of public and private sector leaders with a commitment to road safety. They are senior level leaders who promote NETS’ mission and represent businesses and organizations that have created a proactive safety culture by promoting traffic safety policies and awareness activities in their workplaces. Established in 1989, NETS board of director companies are recognized in the U.S. and around the world for advancing road safety. Consolidated Edison joins current board members Abbott, AmeriFleet Transportation, The Coca-Cola Company, Chubb, Hess Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Monsanto Company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Group, Shell International Petroleum Company and UPS. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) serve as federal liaisons to the board of directors. NETS is a 501(c)3 public/private partnership dedicated to improving the safety of employees, their families, and members of the communities in which they live and work by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on and off-the-job. NETS is a member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration, which provides guidance to the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 global initiative. For more information on NETS, visit www.trafficsafety.org.


Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) says U.S. poultry companies “are being handcuffed” by a rule that set the maximum processing line speed at 140 birds per minute. Collins wrote this week to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and asked him to consider raising the maximum speed to at least 175 birds per minute. He says it’s a step toward Allowing poultry processing plants to increase line speeds above 140 birds per minute was a bad idea when the Obama administration’s USDA proposed it, and it’s still a bad idea. Workers in poultry processing plants suffer from a staggering high number of amputations and hospitalizations, and the rate of illnesses, such as repetitive motion injuries, is seven times the national average. Increasing line speeds in poultry processing plants will make a bad situation worse for workers. In his plea to the USDA Secretary, Rep. Collins asserts that The congressman is mistaken. Evidence includes investigations by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on musculoskeletal injuries among poultry processing workers. I’ve written previously about these investigations, but to recap: These are two plants that requested the NIOSH assessment. Other plants have not done so. Researchers at medical schools and universities have also found high prevalence of CTS and other musculoskeletal injuries among poultry processing workers (e.g. here, here, here.) Repetition (i.e., line speed) is a significant risk factor for these types of injuries. Cong. Collins says in his letter that he takes “worker safety very seriously.” I take him at his word and suggest that he meet with some of the poultry workers that I know. He would hear first-hand about their working conditions and the hazards they face each day. They would describe the steps their employers already should be taking to prevent injuries. They would explain the trouble they face when they seek care for their work-related injuries and even the problem of being able to use the bathroom when nature calls. On top of that, the congressman will also hear that increasing line speeds in poultry plants is a bad idea.


"As Equashield continues to expand into new international markets, this plant will provide the capacity to significantly expand our product portfolio, while enabling us to fulfill worldwide need for current and future CSTD demand," said Marino Kriheli, Co-founder of Equashield. "With these enhanced capabilities Equashield can continue to make a difference for those who work with and around hazardous drugs." Construction of the 112,000-square foot building is expected to complete in July 2019. It will include a 20,000-square foot cleanroom space, incorporating the HVAC variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system for cooling and air conditioning. Production will be fully automated, from raw materials entry to packaging and palletizing, to preserve sterility of products. Equashield is a leading provider of a full range of manual and automated solutions to hospitals for the compounding and administration of hazardous drugs.  Equashield's product suite includes EQUASHIELD II, its flagship Closed System Transfer Device (CSTD), and EQUASHIELD® Pro, the first ever closed system drug compounding robot.  Equashield's CSTD is clinically-proven to protect healthcare professionals from hazardous drug exposure.  The globally awarded EQUASHIELD® II covers more routes of exposure than alternative systems by preventing contamination of syringe plungers and drug residuals on connector surfaces, as well as exposure to drug vapors. Studies have shown Equashield's CSTD to be faster to deploy and easier to use than competing systems, and the system has passed the proposed 2015 alcohol vapor containment protocol from NIOSH, confirming that it can contain the harshest vapors & emissions. EQUASHIELD is in use by hundreds of hospitals and clinics around the world, and has been both cleared by the FDA under the ONB product code, and substantiated in FDA-cleared labeling as preventing microbial ingress for up to seven days.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

Firearms safety is key for people who use weapons at work or for recreational shooting. But one risk has been little acknowledged: Lead dust exposure. In a standard bullet, a solid lead core wrapped in a copper jacket sits atop a stack of gunpowder and lead primer. When the gun fires, the primer ignites, the gunpowder lights, and some of the lead on the bullet boils. When the casing snaps out of the ejection port, lead particles trail behind it. As the bullet hurtles down the barrel of the gun, a shower of lead particles follows. If a gun range isn't ventilated well, lead dust collects on shooters' clothing and hands and lingers in the air, where it can be inhaled. The more people shoot, the greater the risk of being exposed to dangerous amounts of lead. It becomes an occupational hazard for weapons instructors, police and defense personnel. It can also put family members at risk. A 1-year-old boy in Connecticut was found to have high blood lead levels at a routine doctor's visit. There were no lead paint or pipes in the child's home. The exposure was traced to his father's job as a maintenance worker at an indoor shooting range; the father cared for his son after work in lead-contaminated clothing, according to a 2015 report from the state public health department. In order to reduce risk, the Department of Defense has lowered its blood lead standard to 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, three times more restrictive than its previous standard, which relied on Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. These OSHA guidelines apply to workers inside the United States, including employees of private firing ranges, but not to customers of those ranges. The DoD's new blood lead policy, in effect as of April, comes after a National Academy of Sciences report published in 2012 showing that defense personnel face significant health risks from lead from firing ranges, defense department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel James Brindle told NPR. "DoD's subject matter experts in toxicology and occupational medicine used the Committee's report to propose the lower allowable blood lead level." The study also showed that people should expect negative health consequences at the blood lead standard set by OSHA. The OSHA standards for blood lead and exposure to lead have long been criticized as inadequate and dangerously outdated. "The current [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standard hasn't been updated since the 1970s," says Dr. Elena Page, an occupational and environmental hazards physician at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "It's widely acknowledged that the OSHA standard is not protective. They're clearly aware of that, and there's been a lot of pressure to change it." OSHA did not provide comments or interviews requested for this story. About 1 million law enforcement officers train on indoor ranges, according to the CDC, and there are 16,000 to 18,000 private indoor ranges in the U.S. Currently, the OSHA standards for lead exposure decree that employees must stop working if they have a blood lead level of 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, and workers can return to the job if their blood lead level drops below 40 for two consecutive tests. But adverse effects on cardiovascular health, brain function and kidney function have been connected to blood lead levels as low as 5. "There's no amount of lead in your blood that's safe," Page says. The issue of lead exposure and firearms is divisive, even the question of whether higher lead levels are unsafe. "Well, that's their opinion," says Larry Keane, the vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "We believe there are efforts by others that want to diminish people's participation in shooting sports or exercise their second amendment rights. They put out or advocate positions that are unsupported by the evidence." The need for a stricter lead standard is obvious, says Adam Finkel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a former OSHA official. "OSHA is really letting people down," he says. "We're learning more about the neurologic effects of lead, and for whatever reason this substance has the capability of causing a whole spectrum of health effects at the OSHA standard that people don't appreciate." Many effects from lead can be subtle or nonspecific, says Mark Laidlaw, an environmental health scientist at RMIT University in Australia. "Memory and concentration problems, headache, abdominal pain, mood disorders – they can be attributed to a number of things unrelated to lead," he says. "You can have one of these health effects, but the shooters might not realize these are associated with their shooting. They just don't know they're being lead poisoned." At levels slightly higher than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, people may begin suffering spontaneous abortions or kidney dysfunction, according to the CDC. As the volume of lead in the body increases, the effects become more severe. "At levels of 10 or less, there's definitely evidence of increased incidence of tremor. Some are more cognitive effects," says Catherine Beaucham, an industrial hygienist at NIOSH and author of a 2014 report that found that most people with elevated blood levels were exposed from working at recreational firing ranges. "With acute lead poisoning, you can get wrist drop, nerve problems, abdominal pain. If it gets high enough, you can get a coma and death." Firing ranges can be particularly hazardous environments. Defense department ranges, private recreational firing ranges and law enforcement facilities have been found to be contaminated with high levels of lead, according to investigations by The Oregonian and Seattle Times in 2016 and 2014. Often, neglected or failing ventilation equipment was to blame. A review of lead exposure at shooting ranges that Laidlaw published last month found that nearly all participants in the 36 studies had blood lead levels above the 5 microgram ceiling recommended by the CDC; some had levels higher than 40. "You got to understand, the more bullets you shoot, the higher your blood lead level. The more visits you take to the range, then the higher your blood lead level." And when OSHA has inspected firing ranges in the last few decades, the agency has commonly found lead contamination violations. "It's about 30 years of sampling. They haven't done very many, but just a quick look shows about 350 air samples," Finkel says. About half of samples exceed the 50 microgram per cubic meter air level standard for workplaces, Finkel says, and some gun ranges had contamination levels]up to 24,100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. "So, it's terribly, terribly common, and [OSHA] finds overexposures even to their 40-year-old inadequate standard." The defense department's new blood lead limit of 20 does not go far enough, Laidlaw says. He thinks a better standard would be a maximum of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. "It is a step in the right direction, however the best way to deal with the problem is to eliminate lead from bullets and primers," he says. "I worry about the health of the young men and women in the military who are exposed to lead regularly while using firearms." The Defense department has a long-term goal of reducing employees' blood lead levels to below 10, Brindle says. "The DoD policy requires mandatory removal of the worker from workplace exposures when their blood lead level exceeds 20, and effectively will achieve the long-term average blood lead level to stay below 10," he writes to NPR in an email. But some within the industry say it's not necessary to abandon lead ammunition. "[Lead] is only a problem if [gun ranges] are not designed maintained properly," says Bill Provencher, the co-founder of Carey's Small Arms Range Ventilation in Tinley Park, Ill. "Even if OSHA standards are somewhat risky, a properly ventilated range has hardly detectible lead levels at 0.6 [micrograms per cubic meter of air.]" The most important thing aside from range ventilation, Provencher says, is to make sure that people are using safe practices like carefully washing their hands and clothes after shooting. "I would say [awareness] is going from not very good to good," he says. "The people I've met with really high lead levels, most of them did seriously silly things like working in the environment while drinking coffee. Ranges can be an unsafe place, but they can be perfectly safe places. There are people out there who are just hard headed and do silly things."


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

Firearms safety is key for people who use weapons at work or for recreational shooting. But one risk has been little acknowledged: Lead dust exposure. In a standard bullet, a solid lead core wrapped in a copper jacket sits atop a stack of gunpowder and lead primer. When the gun fires, the primer ignites, the gunpowder lights, and some of the lead on the bullet boils. When the casing snaps out of the ejection port, lead particles trail behind it. As the bullet hurtles down the barrel of the gun, a shower of lead particles follows. If a gun range isn't ventilated well, lead dust collects on shooters' clothing and hands and lingers in the air, where it can be inhaled. The more people shoot, the greater the risk of being exposed to dangerous amounts of lead. It becomes an occupational hazard for weapons instructors, police and defense personnel. It can also put family members at risk. A 1-year-old boy in Connecticut was found to have high blood lead levels at a routine doctor's visit. There were no lead paint or pipes in the child's home. The exposure was traced to his father's job as a maintenance worker at an indoor shooting range; the father cared for his son after work in lead-contaminated clothing, according to a 2015 report from the state public health department. In order to reduce risk, the Department of Defense has lowered its blood lead standard to 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, three times more restrictive than its previous standard, which relied on Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. These OSHA guidelines apply to workers inside the United States, including employees of private firing ranges, but not to customers of those ranges. The DoD's new blood lead policy, in effect as of April, comes after a National Academy of Sciences report published in 2012 showing that defense personnel face significant health risks from lead from firing ranges, defense department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel James Brindle told NPR. "DoD's subject matter experts in toxicology and occupational medicine used the Committee's report to propose the lower allowable blood lead level." The study also showed that people should expect negative health consequences at the blood lead standard set by OSHA. The OSHA standards for blood lead and exposure to lead have long been criticized as inadequate and dangerously outdated. "The current [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standard hasn't been updated since the 1970s," says Dr. Elena Page, an occupational and environmental hazards physician at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "It's widely acknowledged that the OSHA standard is not protective. They're clearly aware of that, and there's been a lot of pressure to change it." OSHA did not provide comments or interviews requested for this story. About 1 million law enforcement officers train on indoor ranges, according to the CDC, and there are 16,000 to 18,000 private indoor ranges in the U.S. Currently, the OSHA standards for lead exposure decree that employees must stop working if they have a blood lead level of 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, and workers can return to the job if their blood lead level drops below 40 for two consecutive tests. But adverse effects on cardiovascular health, brain function and kidney function have been connected to blood lead levels as low as 5. "There's no amount of lead in your blood that's safe," Page says. The issue of lead exposure and firearms is divisive, even the question of whether higher lead levels are unsafe. "Well, that's their opinion," says Larry Keane, the vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "We believe there are efforts by others that want to diminish people's participation in shooting sports or exercise their second amendment rights. They put out or advocate positions that are unsupported by the evidence." The need for a stricter lead standard is obvious, says Adam Finkel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a former OSHA official. "OSHA is really letting people down," he says. "We're learning more about the neurologic effects of lead, and for whatever reason this substance has the capability of causing a whole spectrum of health effects at the OSHA standard that people don't appreciate." Many effects from lead can be subtle or nonspecific, says Mark Laidlaw, an environmental health scientist at RMIT University in Australia. "Memory and concentration problems, headache, abdominal pain, mood disorders – they can be attributed to a number of things unrelated to lead," he says. "You can have one of these health effects, but the shooters might not realize these are associated with their shooting. They just don't know they're being lead poisoned." At levels slightly higher than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, people may begin suffering spontaneous abortions or kidney dysfunction, according to the CDC. As the volume of lead in the body increases, the effects become more severe. "At levels of 10 or less, there's definitely evidence of increased incidence of tremor. Some are more cognitive effects," says Catherine Beaucham, an industrial hygienist at NIOSH and author of a 2014 report that found that most people with elevated blood levels were exposed from working at recreational firing ranges. "With acute lead poisoning, you can get wrist drop, nerve problems, abdominal pain. If it gets high enough, you can get a coma and death." Firing ranges can be particularly hazardous environments. Defense department ranges, private recreational firing ranges and law enforcement facilities have been found to be contaminated with high levels of lead, according to investigations by The Oregonian and Seattle Times in 2016 and 2014. Often, neglected or failing ventilation equipment was to blame. A review of lead exposure at shooting ranges that Laidlaw published last month found that nearly all participants in the 36 studies had blood lead levels above the 5 microgram ceiling recommended by the CDC; some had levels higher than 40. "You got to understand, the more bullets you shoot, the higher your blood lead level. The more visits you take to the range, then the higher your blood lead level." And when OSHA has inspected firing ranges in the last few decades, the agency has commonly found lead contamination violations. "It's about 30 years of sampling. They haven't done very many, but just a quick look shows about 350 air samples," Finkel says. About half of samples exceed the 50 microgram per cubic meter air level standard for workplaces, Finkel says, and some gun ranges had contamination levels]up to 24,100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. "So, it's terribly, terribly common, and [OSHA] finds overexposures even to their 40-year-old inadequate standard." The defense department's new blood lead limit of 20 does not go far enough, Laidlaw says. He thinks a better standard would be a maximum of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. "It is a step in the right direction, however the best way to deal with the problem is to eliminate lead from bullets and primers," he says. "I worry about the health of the young men and women in the military who are exposed to lead regularly while using firearms." The Defense department has a long-term goal of reducing employees' blood lead levels to below 10, Brindle says. "The DoD policy requires mandatory removal of the worker from workplace exposures when their blood lead level exceeds 20, and effectively will achieve the long-term average blood lead level to stay below 10," he writes to NPR in an email. But some within the industry say it's not necessary to abandon lead ammunition. "[Lead] is only a problem if [gun ranges] are not designed maintained properly," says Bill Provencher, the co-founder of Carey's Small Arms Range Ventilation in Tinley Park, Ill. "Even if OSHA standards are somewhat risky, a properly ventilated range has hardly detectible lead levels at 0.6 [micrograms per cubic meter of air.]" The most important thing aside from range ventilation, Provencher says, is to make sure that people are using safe practices like carefully washing their hands and clothes after shooting. "I would say [awareness] is going from not very good to good," he says. "The people I've met with really high lead levels, most of them did seriously silly things like working in the environment while drinking coffee. Ranges can be an unsafe place, but they can be perfectly safe places. There are people out there who are just hard headed and do silly things."

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