Volume 17, Number 6 (October 2019)
John Howard, M.D.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
In 1999, organizations around the world started observing October as Health Literacy Month, a time focused on creating awareness about the importance of using plain language to make health and safety information understandable. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this very important observance that continues to support the theme: “Be a Health Literacy Hero.”
A brief history of how health literacy and plain language got started
- 1974: The very first mention of the term “health literacy” was in a Health Education as Social Policy monograph by SK Simonds.
- 1978: Leonard and Cecile Doak, often credited as the founders of health literacy, started studying hospitalized patients.
- 1985: The Doaks, along with Jane Root, published the classic book on health literacy—Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills.
- 1990s: A number of organizations and individuals from various fields and disciplines started to get involved with health literacy-related issues and initiatives.
- 2004: The Institute of Medicine published Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion, which received much attention.
- 2010: The Plain Writing Act was enacted, requiring federal agencies provide clear communication that the public can understand and use. This act defines clear communication or plain language as “Writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.”
- Today: A number of research articles, programs, and tools are available. Additionally, health literacy is a worldwide effort.
How NIOSH champions plain language
In 2018, NIOSH gave its first Plain Language award to recognize various types of NIOSH communication products that demonstrate excellence in applying plain language principles. Learn more about the award and the 2018pdf icon and 2019pdf icon winners.
NIOSH also encourages plain language in all of its communication products. To do this, NIOSH scientists and health communicators are encouraged to
- Attend CDC health literacy and plain language training courses.
- Use the Clear Communication Index—a research-based tool that helps develop and assess communication materials for the intended audience.
- Test products with the intended target audience before publication.
- Submit communication products for the awards that recognize use of plain language principles.
Be a health literacy hero!
Here are a few ways you can make your health and safety information understandable:
- Assess materials that you develop with the Clear Communication Index, which is publicly available.
- Use the Everyday Works for Public Health Communication to reduce jargon and improve reader understanding.
- Attend one of CDC’s online health literacy courses for those working in health information and services.
- Consider attributes that could make your organization a health literate one—read ours as an example.
We know that whether it is communicating to workers about the importance of wearing personal protective equipment or getting a manufacturer to adopt changes to equipment, plain language plays a role in not only making information understandable, but potentially prompting action. Using plain language is critical to our mission to keep workers safe and healthy.
Work Across Disciplines Common in Occupational Safety and Health
Many occupational safety and health professionals perform tasks outside of their main area of expertise, according to a recent survey on their continuing education needs published in the American Journal of Industrial Hygieneexternal icon.
The survey built on the 2011 National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce, also called the Westat report, which had similar findings. In 2017, investigators at the NIOSH Education and Research Centers identified new workforce training needs and interests since the 2011 Westat report. They developed a 27-question survey that included similar questions to the Westat report, addressing newer safety and health topics emerging within the last decade. These topics included work across disciplines, or work both within a primary profession and outside of it, and Total Worker Health®, which comprises policies and practices that protect workers and promote health and safety. The survey also asked about preferences for training topics in continuing education.
The investigators distributed the online survey to occupational safety and health and allied, or related, professions across the United States and received 2,064 responses. Most of the respondents worked in private industry and were 50 years of age or older. Their primary professions included safety (28%), occupational health nursing (18%), and industrial hygiene (12%). However, nearly two thirds of respondents reported additional responsibilities in other occupational safety and health-related areas, such as workplace design, or ergonomics, and wellness. Survey respondents expressed the greatest interest in continuing education related to injury prevention, occupational stress, exposure assessment, and safety culture. These survey findings show that interdisciplinary work or work across disciplines continues to grow in occupational safety and health and underscore the need for cross-training in the field.
More information is available:
- New NIOSH Virtual Tool Kit to Help First Responders Work Safely Around Illicit Drugs
- New NIOSH Webpage on Suicide and Occupation
- Feedback Wanted on the 5th Edition of NMAM
- NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety Evaluation 2014–2018
- NIOSH Announces Recipients of Commercial Fishing Safety Research and Training Grants
John Howard, M.D., Director
Christina Spring, Editor in Chief
Anne Blank, Research Rounds
Kiana Harper, Monthly Features
Steve Leonard, Technical Lead
Tonya White, Web Developer
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New NIOSH Virtual Tool Kit to Help First Responders Work Safely Around Illicit Drugs
NIOSH has released a virtual tool kit for First Responders on how to protect themselves from exposure to illicit drugs. The tool kit includes short training videos and sharable infographics that cover protection when illicit drugs may be present and when they are present, what PPE to wear, and how to decontaminate themselves and their equipment. Other resources based on key points from NIOSH recommendations are also included in the virtual took kit.
New NIOSH Webpage on Suicide and Occupation
NIOSH recently published a webpage on Suicide and Occupation. This page identifies information we know about the suicide problem, factors that are linked to increased risk of suicide among occupations, ways to prevent suicide in the workplace, and a host of other resources.
Feedback Wanted on the 5th Edition of NMAM
The editors of NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) are collecting feedback about the current edition of NMAM to learn more about how customers use analytical methods in their work and how they use NMAM. Survey results will be used to help focus future method development activities, improve NMAM methods, and identify website content or features in need of improvement. The survey is anonymous, and no individually identifiable data will be collected, published, or released. If you are an NMAM user, we invite you to complete the NMAM Customer Satisfaction Surveyexternal iconexternal icon. Thank you for your time and your feedback.
NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety Evaluation 2014–2018
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States. Since 2014, NIOSH’s Center for Motor Vehicle Safety (CMVS) has followed a 5-year strategic plan for research and prevention, covering all workers who drive on the job. In this new report we evaluated progress toward our strategic goals from 2014 through 2018. Read the Evaluation Report, Performance Measures, and Impact Stories from the five priority worker groups.
NIOSH Announces Recipients of Commercial Fishing Safety Research and Training Grants
NIOSH and the U.S. Coast Guard are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research Cooperative Agreement and Training Project Grant Program. This year’s program made nine awards totaling $5.25 million. These awards support critical research and training projects to improve the occupational safety of workers in the high-risk commercial fishing industry. The 2019 awards mark the first time the Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research Cooperative Agreements and Training Project Grants have been available—a second round of funding is planned for 2020.
- Truck Driver Freeing Frozen Rear Brakes on a Dump Truck Was Run Over When the Truck Rolled Forward—Michigan
- 23-Year Old Laborer Was Overcome and Drowned When He Entered a 10,500-gallon Molasses Tank to Reposition a Drain Pipe—Michigan
- A Guide to Atmosphere-supplying Respiratorspdf icon
- Popular Firefighting News Forum Develops Training Poster Based on NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report
Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Report
Health Hazard Evaluation Reports
- Evaluation of Exposure to Radon and Radon Progeny in an Underground Tourist Cavern and Its Connected Buildingsexternal icon
- Evaluation of Metal and Noise Exposures at an Aircraft Powerplant Parts Manufacturerexternal icon
Program Performance One-Pagers (PPOPs)
- NIOSH Wholesale and Retail Trade Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Surveillance Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Occupational Health Equity Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Healthy Work Design and Well-being Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Public Safety Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular, and Other Chronic Disease Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Mining Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Musculoskeletal Health Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Authoritative Recommendations Programpdf icon
- NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studiespdf icon
- NIOSH Services Programpdf icon
- Fishing Safety Success Story: Man, This Could Be It
- Fishing Safety Success Story: The More You Wear It, the Better Off You Are
- NIOSH Launches Respiratory Protection Week in Celebration of 100 Years of Respiratory Protection
- Suicide Risk for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians
- Effectiveness of New Guidelines to Prevent Workplace Hand-wrist MSDs
- ¿Reduce el calzado antideslizante los resbalones, tropezones y caídas en entornos de servicios alimentarios?
- Statement by Dr. John Howard on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance
- Reducing Fatigue and Stress in the Retail Industry: Workplace Solutions
- Small Business International Travel: NIOSH Has You Covered
Faces of Work-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) Videos Now Available in Spanish
The Faces of Work-related COPDexternal icon is a video series originally released in English that is now also available in Spanish. The series consists of four short videos that include a physician explaining what COPD is. Also included are interviews with patients diagnosed with work-related COPD who discuss work exposures, their quality of life having the disease, and ways to minimize the risks of getting the disease. This series is part of a NORA Respiratory Health Cross-Sector Council initiative.
Upcoming NORA Construction Sector Council Meeting
The NORA Construction Sector Council meeting is scheduled for November 20–21 in Washington D.C. The Council has three active working groups that are addressing falls, struck-by incidents, and work organization in the construction industry. If you are interested in participating on any of these workgroups please contact Scott Earnest or Liz Garza.
DOL Approves New Respirator Fit Testing Protocols to Protect Workers From Airborne Contaminants
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a final ruleexternal icon that provides employers with two new fit testing protocols for ensuring that employees’ respirators fit properly. The rule went into effect September 26.
Healthy Workplace Participatory Program Announces NEW Facilitator Manual and Updated Online Toolkit
A NIOSH Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health® (TWH), CPH-NEW, is pleased to announce expanded and upgraded TWH implementation tools for its signature program, the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program Facilitator Manual. Upgrade features include 1) Updated Toolkit at a Glanceexternal icon, 2) NEW Detailed guidance in Get Ready for Program Startupexternal icon, 3) NEW Design Team Startupexternal icon meeting guides, 4) NEW Facilitation Skills Video Training Seriesexternal icon, and 5) Upgraded Facilitator Manual in Generate Solutions Using the IDEAS Toolexternal icon.
Upcoming October 23rd Ergonomics Webinar
The NIOSH-funded Education and Research Centers (ERCs) will hold the ninth installment of their 2019 Ergonomics Webinar Seriesexternal icon on October 23, from 3–4 p.m. (ET). Dr. Bernard Martin of the University of Michigan will present on “Leg and Neck Muscle Fatigue: Physiological Mechanisms That Can Lead to Musculoskeletal Disorders.” This series offers free monthly webinars on occupational safety and health topics related to human factors and ergonomics. Learn more or register hereexternal icon.
New Publication on Occupational Carbon Monoxide Poisonings
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported in a new publicationexternal icon that occupational carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings are likely to be underrepresented in Poison Center records, although they are the second highest source of CO exposure events. Additionally, a new Wisconsin statute makes CO poisoning a reportable conditionexternal icon as of July 2018.
Construction Center Develops New Spanish-Language Resources for Preventing Hearing Loss
The Construction Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention Training Programexternal icon is now available in Spanishexternal icon. This program was developed through a collaboration between the NIOSH-funded CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Trainingexternal icon, NIOSH, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It offers simple educational modules and activities that be utilized as part of an OSHA training or outside of it. Additionally, CPWR has other resources focused on hearing loss prevention including a new Hazard Alert for Noise and Hearing Loss, offered in Englishpdf iconexternal icon and Spanishpdf iconexternal icon.
CPWR Executive Director Contributes to Construction Trade Magazine Article on Aging Workers
Dr. Chris Trahan Cain, Executive Director of CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Trainingexternal icon, recently provided input into an Engineering News-Record magazine article. The story, How Companies Are Adapting to the Needs of an Aging Workforceexternal icon, was published August 28.
Call for Abstracts
7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health
Deadline for abstractsexternal icon is October 30.
XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
Deadline for abstractsexternal icon is December 15.
Call for Manuscripts
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Special Edition
Deadline for manuscript submissionexternal icon is January 31, 2020.
2019 NanoEHS Webinar Series: Evaluating Worker and Consumer Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials
October 8, 12:00 PM–1:00 PM (ET). Register hereexternal icon
ErgoX 2019external icon
October 28, Seattle, WA
63rd International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Societyexternal icon
October 28–November 1, Seattle, WA
Americas Section Technical Conference and Annual General Meeting 2019external icon
October 30, Pittsburgh PA
American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expoexternal icon
November 2–6, Philadelphia, PA
Work, Stress and Health Conference 2019external icon
November 6–9, Philadelphia, PA
30th Annual Art & Science of Health Promotion Conferenceexternal icon
April 20–24, 2020, Hilton Head Island, SC
7th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Healthexternal icon
May 27–29, 2020, Durban, South Africa
XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Workexternal icon
October 4–7, 2020, Toronto, Canada
A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at NIOSH Conferences and Events.