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University of Colorado Denver

Center for Worker Health and Environment
 

At the Intersection of OSH and Public Health

Director's Note, November 2013


Although we occupational health and safety professionals have a strong affinity for others who work in our respective fields, it’s worth remembering that OSH ‘lives’ in the broader world of public health.

On November 3-6, a number of MAP ERC Faculty and trainees attended the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Boston. Sightings included Lorann Stallones, Liliana Tenney, Kaylan Stinson, and Natalie Schwatka (apologies if we missed some of you among the 14,000!) 

APHA, with about 55,000 members, carries some significant weight when it formulates new policies and engages in efforts to educate and influence policymakers in Washington. I’d like to highlight for you 6 of the policy statements ratified by APHA that directly apply to OSH. You can also read more about each of these on the APHA website.

 

20133 Preventing opioid overdose deaths — Supports preventing opioid overdoses through public education efforts, dissemination of best practices and distribution of naloxone, a drug used to treat an opiate overdose. Calls on the federal government to undertake a coordinated approach to preventing opioid overdose deaths via efforts such as raising public awareness of the signs and symptoms of an overdose, supporting access to treatment and recovery services, and enabling access to naloxone. Also urges federal officials to provide state and local health officials with resources to support public education and naloxone distribution programs.

 

20135 Responding to environmental noise pollution — Citing findings that chronic environmental noise can cause negative health issues, urges officials with the National Prevention Strategy to include environmental noise pollution in its action plan. Calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to collect data on noise-related health effects, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on the burden of disease potentially related to noise exposure. Also calls on states and municipalities to update noise regulations with regard to the health effects of noise pollution and include noise pollution in health impact assessments.

 

20136 Paid sick and family leave policies — Noting that the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not require paid sick leave, calls on federal lawmakers to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to apply to more employers than it already does. Recommends lawmakers extend the law's reach to include same-sex households. Also calls on federal lawmakers to adopt federal law based on San Francisco's sick leave policy, which allows workers to accrue paid sick leave and use it to care for themselves or a family member.

 

20137 Nature, health and wellness — To aid in promoting healthy and active lifestyles, encourages land use decisions that prioritize access to natural areas and green spaces for residents of all ages, abilities and income levels. Calls on public health, medical and other health professionals to raise awareness among patients and the public at-large about the health benefits of spending time in nature and of nature-based play and recreation. Also urges such professionals to form partnerships with relevant stakeholders, such as parks departments, school districts and nature centers. Calls for promoting natural landscaping.

 

20138 Preventing workplace injury and illness — Citing the absence of federal requirements that employers enact illness and injury prevention programs, calls on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to disseminate a standard that requires such programs. Encourages continued federal research into barriers that prevent workers from reporting workplace injury and illness. Calls on federal agencies such as OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to support the development of educational materials. Also calls for meaningful penalties for employers found to have policies that discourage workers form reporting illness and injury.

 

201313 Defining the public health workforce — Urges public health stakeholders and key federal agencies to move toward creating consistent classifications for describing public health jobs and functions. Encourages stakeholders to collaborate on efforts to meet the target date of 2018 for recommending changes to the Standard Occupational Classification System. Calls on federal policymakers to fund the National Health Care Workforce Commission authorized via the Affordable Care Act and to charge the commission with creating a separate group to address public health workforce issues. Also calls for a White House Conference on Public Health.

 

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