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.
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
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
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.