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Women in Science

Categories: Women

“When I grow up, I want to be an industrial hygienist.” Hearing a ten-year-old girl say those words would probably warrant a double take. While there might be some little girls out there dreaming about one day conducting research and working in a laboratory, studies suggest that more often, it’s a ten-year-old boy who will have the dream and will realize it when he grows up. The reality is that a disproportionately smaller number of women than men follow careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Scientific organizations agree that a better balance is needed. Perhaps, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, more girls will one day enthusiastically say, “epidemiologist, health communication specialist, medical officer, engineer, psychologist!”

Does your workplace culture help protect you from hepatitis?

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care, Women

May 19, 2013, is Hepatitis Testing Day. Health care workers are at risk of contracting hepatitis B and C in the workplace. Doctors, nurses, and other staff are predominately exposed to these devastating diseases through needle sticks and other sharps injuries or when fluids from patients splash onto their eyes, nose, or mouth. Hepatitis B and C are life-changing infections, but they can be avoided in many cases. Improved processes and safer equipment are essential. The procedures and equipment used are a reflection of an organization’s safety culture.

A strong safety culture demonstrates a high level of commitment from both managers and employees to a healthy work environment.

What does your workplace do to support a safe work environment? What practices seem to be most effective? Do you do anything innovative at your organization to influence attitudes and behaviors related to safety?

Women’s Health at Work

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Cancer, Chemicals, Construction, Health care, Personal Protective Equipment, Service Sector, Stress, Transportation, Violence, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Women

 

This week is Women’s Health Week. With over 58% of U.S. women in the labor force[i], the workplace must be considered when looking at women’s overall health.   We must keep in mind that susceptibility to hazards can be different for men and women.  Additionally, women face different workplace health challenges than men partly because men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs. Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, and anxiety and stress disorders.  Social, economic, and cultural factors also put women at risk for injury and illness.  While workplace exposures can affect both male and female reproduction, issues related to reproduction and pregnancy are of particular concern to women.  Below you will find summaries, with links to more research, of some hazards faced by women in the workplace as well as links to industry-specific research from NIOSH  that relates to women.   More information is available on the NIOSH topic page Women’s Safety and Health Issues at Work.

Improving Respirator Use and Compliance in Healthcare – An Invitation

Categories: Health care, Personal Protective Equipment, Women

Photos courtesy of Kimberly Clark, Moldex, 3M, and Alpha Protec

Poor compliance with respiratory protection requirements and proper use recommendations in healthcare settings remains a vexing problem. Given the many possible methods to improve compliance, and the constraints of limited budgets and resources available for research, we are asking the question: where should NIOSH conduct research to address this issue? 

There are many reasons to focus attention on healthcare workplaces.  There are more than 14 million workers in the United States employed in the healthcare field.  Healthcare personnel are sometimes exposed to a variety of potential airborne respiratory hazards (e.g., Mycobacterium tuberculosis, hazardous chemicals, influenza etc.).  In some of these situations the patient is the source of the exposure, but still requires medical care. Not surprisingly, some studies have found that compared to non-healthcare settings, healthcare personnel could be at a higher risk of exposure to infectious respiratory diseases.  Preferred methods of reducing exposure (elimination, substitution, administrative, and engineering controls) are often not possible or practical to implement, especially during an emerging infectious disease outbreak or pandemic. 

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