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Preventing Skin Cancer

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Cancer, Construction, Oil and Gas, Outdoor Work, Young Workers

sunAs the nation’s doctor, I recently launched a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer to address the rising rates of skin cancer in the U.S. While nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the U.S., with an annual cost of $8.1 billion, most cases are preventable. Although people with lighter skin are at higher risk, anyone can get skin cancer—and it can be disfiguring, even deadly. Sunburned and even tanned skin is damaged skin that can lead to skin cancer. That’s why this message is extremely important for individuals whose jobs require them to work outdoors.

Adjusting to Work in the Heat: Why Acclimatization Matters

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Outdoor Work

Heat stress infographic

Click for the full infograpic

Acclimatization is important in keeping your workforce safe and well as temperatures rise. This natural adaptation to the heat takes time, and from a management perspective, it may require careful planning.

Make acclimatization part of your plan

A good heat illness prevention plan takes into account the need for more breaks, a cool place to rest, the availability of fluids, and the careful allotment of time for a worker to become fully adjusted or acclimatized to the heat. It will need to be flexible based on the intensity of the heat, the level of humidity, the workers’ experience on the job, and the workers’ physical fitness.

Coccidioidomycosis: An Enduring Work-Related Disease

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Oil and Gas, Outdoor Work, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health

A prison located in an arid, hyperendemic area of the Central Valley of California. There is little natural vegetation on the grounds and in the surrounding areas. Photograph by NIOSH.

Background

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus grows in the soil in very dry areas. Coccidioidomycosis is endemic (native and common) in the southwestern United States, the Central Valley of California, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America [CDC 2013a]. About 150,000 new infections have been estimated to occur each year in the United States [Galgiani et al. 2005] but only about 22,000 cases were reported in 2011 in the United States. This suggests that the disease is greatly underreported [CDC 2013b]. The apparent incidence of reported coccidioidomycosis increased from 1998 to 2011, from 5.3 cases per 100,000 population in the endemic area (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) in 1998 to 42.6 cases per 100,000 in 2011, although concern has been expressed that some of this increase might be related to changes in surveillance definitions, laboratory practices, and increased awareness leading to increased testing for the disease [CDC 2013b].

Cost-effective Rollover Protective Structure (CROPS)

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Engineering Control, Motor Vehicle Safety, Outdoor Work, Transportation

Despite a decades-long effort to raise awareness about the importance of roll over protective structures (ROPS) in preventing injury and death from tractor roll overs, tractor overturns continue to be the leading cause of occupational agricultural death in the United States.

While all tractors produced since 1986 come with ROPS as standard equipment, farm tractors have a long life span.  Unless a tractor has been retrofitted, operators of older tractors are unprotected during rollovers.   We know there are various reasons for the reluctance to retrofit older tractors with ROPS.  We’ve heard them all: “They cost too much.” “They are too much of a hassle to find/install.” “My dad/grandpa/ mother/uncle never used them and they never had a problem.”  The fact remains that farmworkers continue to die while working on unprotected tractors. 

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