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The Importance of Occupational Safety and Health: Making for a “Super” Workplace

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Mining, Oil and Gas, Personal Protective Equipment, Sports and Entertainment, Training

Graphic by Stephen R. Leonard

There’s just something about superhero movie summer releases that gets us here at NIOSH excited about safety. This summer the source of our inspiration came from the Man of Steel© movie. In the film, pre-Superman Clark Kent is working as a commercial fisherman (a hazardous job if you’re not a man of steel). He risks exposing his amazing abilities when he swoops in to save the workers on a nearby oil rig who are in great danger as the rig implodes around them.

The scene is reminiscent of Action Comics© issue #3, the original Superman comic book series dating all the way back to 1938. In Action Comics #3, “Superman Battles Death Underground“, (issued 75 years ago this month) Superman is in the right place at the right time to save a coal miner, as well as his rescue crew, from an unsafe mine filled with toxic gas. We see instances such as these riddled throughout comic books and superhero movies. There’s always a hero around to save the day.

Brain Injury in the NFL

Categories: Sports and Entertainment

It’s that time of year again—football season.  While pro, college and pee wee football players and fans across the country prepare for the annual rituals of the game, questions of safety linger on the sidelines.  A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finds that National Football League (NFL) players may be at a higher risk of death associated with Alzheimer’s and other impairments of the brain and nervous system than the general U.S. population. These results are consistent with recent studies by other research institutions that suggest an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease among professional football players.

Safety and Health in the Theater: Keeping Tragedy out of the Comedies…and Musicals…and Dramas

Categories: Chemicals, Construction, Ergonomics, Exposure, Hearing Loss, Sports and Entertainment

On Sunday, the 2012 Tony Awards celebrated the year’s best offerings from “The Great White Way.”  While the theater provides entertainment, the preparation and production of live performances can also pose hazards to those working in all aspects of the theater –from actors on stage to set designers behind the scenes and musicians in the orchestra pit.  Some of these hazards were well publicized in recent years as multiple actors and stunt doubles were injured during the production of Spiderman, Turn off the Dark.  These injuries included harness failure, injuries sustained during flying sequences and actors struck by equipment[i]. With the complexities of a theatrical production, there are numerous potential hazards.  In fact, one hazard, a falling backdrop, is portrayed in the musical The Phantom of the Opera.  But the Phantom wasn’t to blame when a large backdrop hit Bret Michaels on the head after performing with the cast of Rock of Ages during the 2009 Tony Awards [ii].   Other potential hazards in the theater include rigging and flying hazards, repetitive strain injuries among dancers and carpenters, solvent and chemical exposures, noise-induced hearing loss, electrical hazards, falls from heights, as well as most hazards found on a construction site.

NFL Players Tackling Heart Disease

Categories: Cardiovascular Disease, Sports and Entertainment

A football player in a green jersey holding a football.Many football players are essentially paid to be big—really big—especially those whose job is to block or stop the big guys on the other team.  There is a good chance that these players weigh in at sizes that are classified as obese as defined by body mass index (BMI).  In the general population, high BMI generally correlates with high body fat, and we know that high body fat is a risk factor for death (mortality) and heart disease.  Is the same true for elite athletes, for whom high BMI may relate to increased muscularity rather than increased body fat?  What if the athlete plays a position where size simply matters, regardless of whether size is related to muscle or to body fat?   And what happens when former athletes are no longer conditioning at their playing-day levels?  Do professional football players die earlier than or more often from heart disease or cancer than the average American male?   New research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) helps answer these and other questions.

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