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1.
Professional Safety ; 68(5):23-25, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2314333

ABSTRACT

[...]in 1996, with campus president support, an umbrella safety council was created that includes representation of both OSH and non-OSH activities. Over time, the non-OSH representation has expanded, incorporating representatives from areas such as human resources, building facilities management, employee assistance and wellness, mental health, environmental waste management, campus security and disaster preparedness. With the safety councils support, the wellness and employee assistance programs conducted focus group discussions and determined a major cause of the observed stress was rooted in personal financial management challenges. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the safety council members became concerned about the overall well-being of the university community and, as such, assisted in the conduct of two waves of a campus-wide survey measuring aspects such as mental health, well-being concerns about COVID-19, personal finance worries and accessing reliable sources of information.

2.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(22)2022 Nov 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2116203

ABSTRACT

There is widespread recognition that the world of work is changing, and agreement is growing that the occupational safety and health (OSH) field must change to contribute to the protection of workers now and in the future. Discourse on the evolution of OSH has been active for many decades, but formalized support of an expanded focus for OSH has greatly increased over the past 20 years. Development of approaches such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)'s Total Worker Health® concept and the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Healthy Workplace Framework are concrete examples of how OSH can incorporate a new focus with a wider view. In 2019, NIOSH initiated a multi-year effort to explore an expanded focus for OSH. This paper is a report on the outputs of a three-year cooperative agreement between NIOSH and The University of Texas School of Public Health, which led to subject matter expert workshops in 2020 and an international conference of global interest groups in 2021. This article traces the background of these meetings and identifies and assesses the lessons learned. It also reviews ten thematic topics that emerged from the meetings: worker health inequalities; training new OSH professionals; future OSH research and practice; tools to measure well-being of workers; psychosocial hazards and adverse mental health effects; skilling, upskilling and improving job quality; socioeconomic influences; climate change; COVID-19 pandemic influences; and strategic foresight. Cross-cutting these themes is the need for systems and transdisciplinary thinking and operationalization of the concept of well-being to prepare the OSH field for the work of the future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Occupational Health , United States , Humans , Occupational Health/education , Pandemics/prevention & control , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Workplace , Public Health
3.
Sci Total Environ ; 849: 157881, 2022 Nov 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2049903

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To examine the impact of the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) fire and COVID-19 on airborne particulate matter (PM) concentrations and the PM disproportionally affecting communities in Houston using low-cost sensors. METHODS: We compared measurements from a network of low-cost sensors with a separate network of monitors from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Houston metropolitan area from Mar 18, 2019, to Dec 31, 2020. Further, we examined the associations between neighborhood-level sociodemographic status and air pollution patterns by linking the low-cost sensor data to EPA environmental justice screening and mapping systems. FINDINGS: We found increased PM levels during ITC fire and pre-COVID-19, and lower PM levels after the COVID-19 lockdown, comparable to observations from the regulatory monitors, with higher variations and a greater number of locations with high PM levels detected. In addition, the environmental justice analysis showed positive associations between higher PM levels and the percentage of minority, low-income population, and demographic index. IMPLICATION: Our study indicates that low-cost sensors provide pollutant measures with higher spatial variations and a better ability to identify hot spots and high peak concentrations. These advantages provide critical information for disaster response and environmental justice studies. SYNOPSIS: We used measurements from a low-cost sensor network for air pollution monitoring and environmental justice analysis to examine the impact of anthropogenic and natural disasters.


Subject(s)
Air Pollutants , Air Pollution , COVID-19 , Air Pollutants/analysis , Air Pollution/analysis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Environmental Justice , Environmental Monitoring , Explosions , Humans , Particulate Matter/analysis
4.
Pract Lab Med ; 28: e00261, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1655023

ABSTRACT

To gain insights on the heterogeneity of immune responses to vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 and to identify factors that could make individuals vulnerable to infection due to lack of response to vaccination, our hospital started offering free voluntary post-antibody testing against the spike protein IgG for all fully vaccinated employees. Post-vaccination response against SARS-CoV-2 was assessed using the FDA-EUA approved VITROS anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG immunometric assay specific to the spike protein. Out of a total of 3266 antibody tests performed in fully vaccinated Texas Children's, 99.4% had a positive antibody response to the spike protein. From the 21 employees (0.6%) that had a negative response, 66.7% reported taking immunosuppressive drugs and/or biologics. Our data shows that most of the employees tested at our institution mounted an immune response to the immunogen in the vaccine. Post-vaccination antibody testing against SARS-CoV-2 can provide useful information to guide decisions about future vaccine doses.

5.
J Occup Environ Hyg ; 19(1): 67-77, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467257

ABSTRACT

The use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to combat disease transmission has come into the international spotlight again because of the recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and ongoing outbreaks of multidrug resistant organisms in hospitals. Although the implementation of ultraviolet disinfection technology is widely employed in healthcare facilities and its effectiveness has been repeatedly demonstrated, the use of such technology in the commercial sector has been limited. Considering that most disease transmission occurs in commercial, public, and residential indoor environments as opposed to healthcare facilities, there is a need to understand whether ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technology can be effective for mitigating disease transmission in these environments. The results presented here demonstrate that the installation of fixed in-room UVGI air cleaners in commercial buildings, including restaurants and offices, can produce significant reductions in both airborne and surface-borne bacterial contamination. Total airborne reductions after UV implementation at six separate commercial sites averaged 73% (p < 0.0001) with a range of 71-88%. Total non-high touch surface reductions after implementation averaged 55% (p < 0.0001) with a range of 28-88%. All reductions at the mitigated sites were statistically significant. The mean value of indoor airborne bacteria was 320 CFU/m3 before intervention and 76 CFU/m3 after. The mean value of indoor non-high touch surface borne bacteria was 131 CFU/plate before intervention and 47 CFU/plate after. All test locations and controls had their required pandemic cleaning procedures in place for pre- and post-sampling events. Outdoor levels of airborne bacteria were monitored and there was no significant correlation between the levels of airborne bacteria in the outside air as opposed to the indoor air. Rooms with fixed in-room UVGI air cleaners installed had significant CFU reductions on local surface contamination, which is a novel and important finding. Installation of fixed in-room UVGI air cleaners in commercial buildings will decontaminate the indoor environment and reduce hazardous exposure to human pathogens.


Subject(s)
Air Pollution, Indoor , COVID-19 , Air Microbiology , Disinfection , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Ultraviolet Rays
6.
Children (Basel) ; 8(9)2021 Aug 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1390545

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The lack of SARS-CoV-2 antigen surveillance testing in the pediatric population has inhibited accurate infection and hospitalization prevalence estimates. We aim to report the estimated prevalence of and risk factors for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and intensive care unit (ICU) admission across the three United States (US) waves in one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the nation. METHODS: Retrospective electronic health record (EHR) review of all COVID-19 surveillance data among children aged 0-19 years seeking healthcare at one pediatric healthcare system that serves predominantly Medicaid-dependent families from 1 March 2020 to 31 March 2021. COVID-19 infection status (Y/N), hospital admission (Y/N), and ICU admission (Y/N) are the main outcomes. RESULTS: Of 22,377 children aged ≤ 19 years tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection from March 2020-March 2021, 3126 were positive (14.0%), and out of those positive, 53.7% were hospitalized and 2.9% were admitted to the ICU. Compared to Wave 1 (1 March 2020-31 May 2020), the risk of a positive test increased from 16% (RR 1.16, 95% CI, 1.07-1.26) in Wave 2 (1 June 2020-31 October 2020) to 33% (RR 1.33, 95% CI, 1.23-1.44) in Wave 3 (1 November 2020-31 March 2021). Similarly, compared to Wave 1, the risk for hospitalization increased 86% (RR 1.86, 95% CI, 1.86-2.06) in Wave 2 and 89% in Wave 3 (RR 1.89, 95% CI, 1.70-2.08), and the risk for ICU admission increased from 10% in Wave 2 (RR 1.10, 95% CI, 0.39-3.01) to 310% in Wave 3 (RR 3.10, 95% CI, 1.21-7.80). Children with asthma, depressive disorders, type 1 or 2 diabetes, and anemia were more likely to be hospitalized while children with diabetes, obesity, cardiac malformations, and hypertension were more likely to be admitted to the ICU versus children without these conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Children were cumulatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through the three US waves with more than a third hospitalized in Wave 3. Children with underlying health conditions were particularly at risk for severe illness and should be monitored for any long-term impacts.

7.
Am J Infect Control ; 49(6): 808-812, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1384851

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: With healthcare shifting to the outpatient setting, this study examined whether outpatient clinics operating in business occupancy settings were conducting procedures in rooms with ventilation rates above, at, or below thresholds defined in the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers/American Society for Health Care Engineering Standard 170 for Ventilation in Health Care Facilities and whether lower ventilation rates and building characteristics increase the risk of disease transmission. METHODS: Ventilation rates were measured in 105 outpatient clinic rooms categorized by services rendered. Building characteristics were evaluated as determinants of ventilation rates, and risk of disease transmission was estimated using the Gammaitoni-Nucci model. RESULTS: When compared to Standard 170, 10% of clinic rooms assessed did not meet the minimum requirement for general exam rooms, 39% did not meet the requirement for treatment rooms, 83% did not meet the requirement for aerosol-generating procedures, and 88% did not meet the requirement for procedure rooms or minor surgical procedures. CONCLUSIONS: Lower than standard air changes per hour were observed and could lead to an increased risk of spread of diseases when conducting advanced procedures and evaluating persons of interest for emerging infectious diseases. These findings are pertinent during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as working guidelines are established for the healthcare community.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Ambulatory Care Facilities , Humans , Pandemics , Ventilation
8.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(11)2021 05 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1389365

ABSTRACT

Growth of the information economy and globalization of labor markets will be marked by exponential growth in emerging technologies that will cause considerable disruption of the social and economic sectors that drive the global job market. These disruptions will alter the way we work, where we work, and will be further affected by the changing demographic characteristics and level of training of the available workforce. These changes will likely result in scenarios where existing workplace hazards are exacerbated and new hazards with unknown health effects are created. The pace of these changes heralds an urgent need for a proactive approach to understand the potential effects new and emerging workplace hazards will have on worker health, safety, and well-being. As employers increasingly rely on non-standard work arrangements, research is needed to better understand the work organization and employment models that best support decent work and improved worker health, safety, and well-being. This need has been made more acute by the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic that has resulted in dramatic changes in employment patterns, millions of lost jobs, an erosion of many economic sectors, and widespread disparities which further challenge occupational safety and health (OSH) systems to ensure a healthy and productive workplace. To help identify new research approaches to address OSH challenges in the future, a virtual workshop was organized in June 2020 with leading experts in the fields of OSH, well-being, research methods, mental health, economics, and life-course analysis. A paradigm shift will be needed for OSH research in the future of work that embraces key stakeholders and thinks differently about research that will improve lives of workers and enhance enterprise success. A more transdisciplinary approach to research will be needed that integrates the skills of traditional and non-traditional OSH research disciplines, as well as broader research methods that support the transdisciplinary character of an expanded OSH paradigm. This article provides a summary of the presentations, discussion, and recommendations that will inform the agenda of the Expanded Focus for Occupational Safety and Health (Ex4OSH) International Conference, planned for December 2021.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Occupational Health , Employment , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Workplace
10.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 17(19)2020 09 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-963273

ABSTRACT

Rapid and profound changes anticipated in the future of work will have significant implications for the education and training of occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals and the workforce. As the nature of the workplace, work, and the workforce change, the OSH field must expand its focus to include existing and new hazards (some yet unknown), consider how to protect the health and well-being of a diverse workforce, and understand and mitigate the safety implications of new work arrangements. Preparing for these changes is critical to developing proactive systems that can protect workers, prevent injury and illness, and promote worker well-being. An in-person workshop held on February 3-4, 2020 at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Houston, Texas, USA, examined some of the challenges and opportunities OSH education will face in both academic and industry settings. The onslaught of the COVID-19 global pandemic reached the United States one month after this workshop and greatly accelerated the pace of change. This article summarizes presentations from national experts and thought leaders across the spectrum of OSH and professionals in the fields of strategic foresight, systems thinking, and industry, and provides recommendations for the field.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , Occupational Health/education , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Health Workforce , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Texas , United States , Workplace
11.
Ann Work Expo Health ; 64(8): 786-816, 2020 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-684623

ABSTRACT

It would be useful for researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers to anticipate the hazards that workers will face in the future. The focus of this study is a systematic review of published information to identify and characterize scenarios and hazards in the future of work. Eleven bibliographic databases were systematically searched for papers and reports published from 1999 to 2019 that described future of work scenarios or identified future work-related hazards. To compile a comprehensive collection of views of the future, supplemental and ad hoc searches were also performed. After screening all search records against a set of predetermined criteria, the review yielded 36 references (17 peer-reviewed, 4 gray, and 15 supplemental) containing scenarios. In these, the future of work was described along multiple conceptual axes (e.g. labor market changes, societal values, and manual versus cognitive work). Technology was identified as the primary driver of the future of work in most scenarios, and there were divergent views in the literature as to whether technology will create more or fewer jobs than it displaces. Workforce demographics, globalization, climate change, economic conditions, and urbanization were also mentioned as influential factors. Other important themes included human enhancement, social isolation, loneliness, worker monitoring, advanced manufacturing, hazardous exposures, sustainability, biotechnology, and synthetic biology. Pandemics have not been widely considered in the future of work literature, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic illustrates that was short-sighted. Pandemics may accelerate future of work trends and merit critical consideration in scenario development. Many scenarios described 'new' or 'exacerbated' psychosocial hazards of work, whereas comparatively fewer discussed physical, chemical, or biological hazards. Various preventive recommendations were identified. In particular, reducing stress associated with precarious work and its requirements of continual skill preparation and training was acknowledged as critical for protecting and promoting the health and well-being of the future workforce. In conclusion, the future of work will be comprised of diverse complex scenarios and a mosaic of old and new hazards. These findings may serve as the basis for considering how to shape the future of work.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , Occupational Exposure , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Gray Literature , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
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