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Emerging trends in worker health and safety

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (May 8, 2014) Eleven abstracts to be presented at the 2014 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) will reveal some exciting new strategies to protect worker health. These approaches range from advancing the safety culture in academic laboratories to minimizing the risks to workers in healthcare settings.

"These scientific abstracts and case studies show us exciting new opportunities and methods for providing workers and communities with a healthier and safer environment," said AIHA President Barbara J. Dawson, CIH, CSP. "We're certain that these presenters will inspire their colleagues with the solutions and best practices they will need to excel in their daily workplace challenges."

Nearly 350 abstracts will be presented May 31 through June 5, 2014, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. The meeting, based on the theme, "Evolution and Journey to a Safer Tomorrow," is expected to draw more than 5,000 occupational and environmental health and safety professionals from around the world.

Below are short summaries of the 11 conference presentations highlighting new trends in the IH industry in the fields of ergonomics, air quality, noise exposure, healthcare, and public health and safety. For additional information on these presentations, please contact Nicole Racadag at (703) 846-0700 or


Musculoskeletal Disorders in Texas and the United States
Michelle Cook, PhD(c), MPH
University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, Austin, TX

From 2003 to 2009, trends in nonfatal occupational musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) declined from 26,810 to 14,690 in Texas and from 435,180 to 283,800 in the United States. In 2009, occupational MSDs accounted for 24.4 percent and 29.4 percent of all nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses (NOII) in Texas and the U.S., respectively. This presentation will look at how occupational MSDs, which cost U.S. businesses $15.2 billion in 2008, still account for a large number of NOII and continue to be a public health concern.

Safe Patient Handling Technologies
Elise Condie, MS
RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

This research discusses ways to help nursing staff use modern patient mobilization technology in hospital settings. Use of this equipment is better for nurses and prevents injuries to staff while reducing falls and pressure ulcers among patients who need help to move, thus helping patients get discharged from the hospital sooner.

Laboratory Health and Safety

Advancing Safety in Academic Research Laboratories
Lawrence M. Gibbs, MEd, MPH, CIH
Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Stanford University convened a faculty-led task force to review and evaluate safety in campus research laboratories and to recommend ways to promote and advance a robust and positive safety culture among researchers.

Infection Control Issues

Occupationally-Acquired Influenza among Healthcare Workers
Rachael M. Jones, PhD, MPH
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL

Healthcare workers provide care to patients with influenza and may develop influenza as a result of occupational exposures, but they may not recognize the infection as being related to their work environment. Influenza has not been widely recognized as an occupationally-acquired infection. This is the first effort to tabulate its burden on healthcare workers.

Specialty Building IAQ

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure in New Orleans Bars and Casinos
Daniel J. Harrington, ScD, CIH
Louisiana State University School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA

Secondhand tobacco smoke is a significant health hazard that causes a wide range of cardiovascular and respiratory health effects, including cancer. The researchers measured levels of secondhand smoke in smoking bars, casinos, and smoke-free bars in New Orleans in 2011.

Airborne Hazardous Chemicals in Hairdressing Salons in Taiwan
Che-Jung Chang
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

This study found that the levels of formaldehyde in hair salon products and other hazardous chemicals found in hair salons in Taiwan might exceed the World Health Organization's indoor air guideline for the public.

Occupational Injuries of Healthcare Workers

Nonwage Losses Associated with Occupational Injury Among Healthcare Workers
Hasanat Alamgir, PhD, MBA
University of Texas School of Public Health, San Antonio, TX

This study was designed to quantify the economic and quality of life consequences experienced by healthcare workers in Canada for the most common types of occupational injuries. Findings showed that many of these occupational injuries in healthcare workers are not usually captured or recorded in official workers' compensation statistics.

Biosafety and Environmental Microbiology

Public Health Risk from Legionella Pneumophila in Whirlpool Spas
Thomas Armstrong, PhD
TWA8HR Occupational Hygiene Consulting, LLC, Branchburg, NJ

Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water, such as in that of whirlpool spas and whirlpool spas' water mist. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the community-acquired pneumonia cases (more than 60,000 deaths in the U.S. per year and 4.2 million treatments for pneumonia) may be caused by Legionnaires' disease.

Protecting the Public and Workers

Employee Exposure to Air Contaminants After Hurricane Sandy
Kerry-Ann Jaggassar, MSc

This presentation will discuss how an industrial hygiene-based assessment was used to evaluate the risk of potential worker exposure to air contaminants of concern during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Lessons in CSR from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy
William Sothern, MA, MS
Microecologies Inc., New York, NY

This presentation will look at the "reciprocal generosity paradigm" which, if embraced by businesses on a large scale, could promote substantial corporate investment in public health initiatives, while at the same time serving the interests of corporate stakeholders.

Community Noise

Noise Controls for Indoor and Outdoor Shooting Ranges
Stephen Katz, Academy Award winner
Stephen Katz & Associates, Los Angeles, CA

This case study examined the measurement of noise at shooting ranges using multiple high-level instrumentation microphones and a high-speed, multi-channel recorder.


Contact: Nicole Racadag
American Industrial Hygiene Association

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