The approach of summer is a reminder to us all of the need to recognize, and act to prevent, the harmful effects of excessive heat. The White House has designated May 23–27, 2016, as Extreme Heat Week, during which Federal agencies will work with community planners and public health officials to enhance community preparedness for extreme heat events. Workers are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of heat exposure. Workers may experience longer or more intense heat exposures and are more likely to engage in strenuous physical activity in the heat than the general public. Also, in many cases workers rely on their employers to provide opportunities for limiting their time in the heat, ensuring adequate rest breaks, and promoting hydration.
Safer Healthier Workers
Selected Category: Outdoor Work
May 23rd, 2016 8:26 am ET - Brenda Jacklitsch, MS; and Joanna Watson, MSc, DPhil
August 24th, 2015 7:56 am ET - Robert Harrison, MD
On August 13, 2015, another worker was suffocated by palm fronds in California (see news report). This is at least the fourth similar fatality since the California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program (CA/FACE) program issued a report and video on this hazard in February 2014. The drought in the Western U.S. may have intensified the problem as lack of water has led to palm trees heavy with fronds, creating the potential to crush workers who are trimming the trees from underneath the palm fronds.
When a tree trimmer cuts or pulls on dead fronds, adjacent fronds or an entire ring of fronds may collapse and encase the worker. The weight of the fronds causes pressure on the worker’s chest and can lead to suffocation. In the cases identified through CA/FACE, the workers climbed up the tree and trimmed the fronds from the bottom up, placing themselves directly beneath the fronds. Neither the workers nor the supervisors were certified tree workers. They did not follow proper safety procedures or use the correct equipment. The workers were pinned by thick layers of dead fronds and suffocated to death.
December 4th, 2014 11:19 am ET - Michael Flynn, MA
The United States workforce, like the population in general, is becoming more ethnically diverse. “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants,” President Obama stated recently in announcing his initiative on immigration reform. The Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project estimates that immigrants will make up roughly 23% of adults of working age in 2050, up from 15% in 2005 (Passel & Cohn, 2008). It is also predicted that immigrants and their children will make up 83% of the growth in the working age population of the U.S. during this same time period (Congressional Budget Office, 2005). Immigration from Latin America to the U.S. has grown dramatically over the past 2 decades and will figure prominently in these numbers. Currently, about 18 million Latino immigrants live in the U.S. (Batalova & Terrazas, 2010).
Latino workers suffer significantly higher rates of workplace fatalities (5.0 per 100,000 workers) than all workers combined (4.0), non-Latino white workers (4.0) or non-Latino black workers (3.7) (Cierpich, Styles, Harrison, et al., 2008). Considered alone, Latino immigrants to the U.S. have a workplace fatality rate of 5.9 per 100,000 which is almost 50% higher than the rate for all workers (4.0). In 2013, two-thirds of work-related deaths among Latinos were among foreign-born individuals, up from slightly more than half in 1992. These data suggest that fatalities among immigrant workers may be the driving force behind the elevated rates of workplace injuries and illnesses among Latinos in the U.S.
August 13th, 2014 10:52 am ET - RADM Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H, Acting Surgeon General.
As 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.
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