This month the Healthier Workforce Center (HWC) has a special feature for you. We recently had the opportunity to interview a colleague from the Healthiest Workshop at the North Pole; the boss himself, Santa Claus. Over a cup of hot cocoa, we discussed the dangers of working in cold conditions and tips to keep worker elves toasty warm all season long.
HWC: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for us. Santa: Anything for the hard-working men & women in the Midwest! HWC: We noticed that you brought winter with you; that Polar Vortex is no joke! How do your elves keep warm when the temps fall? Santa: The secret's in the layers. The inner layer of clothing should transfer moisture away from the skin (e.g., silk, wool, or polypropylene), the middle layer should provide insulation & warmth (e.g., polar fleece/wool), while the outer layer should prevent wind, rain and snow from getting in. Be sure to have an extra set of dry gloves, socks, clothes, and hat available if the weather or natural sweating causes the layers to become damp. The moisture increases the rate of heat loss from the body. HWC: What if the layers aren't enough to keep the elves warm? Santa: Always watch out for signs & symptoms of cold stress! Take time to learn about cold stress. Contrary to popular belief, it's not wise to rub areas affected by frostbite. Misinformation can do more harm than good. More... HWC: Lots of workers in the Midwest travel as a part of their job. How do you prepare your sleigh & reindeer for winter weather? Santa: My elves take care to maintain the health of the reindeer year-round, but I always check the sleigh, review the route, and pack an emergency bag before leaving, just in case. Safe winter driving requires preparation for the trip, protection for yourself, and playing your part to prevent crashes. More... HWC: Thanks again for your time, Santa. Here are some cookies and milk for your trip home. Santa: I'm actually doing a wellness challenge through the Workshop right now, so I'll pass. No worries though; you folks still made the 'Nice List' this year!
The Healthier Workforce Center, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is pleased to announce the availability of funds for pilot projects. The mission of the Healthier Workforce Center is to protect and preserve worker safety and health through knowledge generation and dissemination of evidence-based Total Worker Health® practices. The Healthier Workforce Center is in the process of expanding to leverage our existing partnerships with Washington University- St. Louis and the Nebraska Safety Council. Therefore, we are particularly interested in proposals that address the needs of employers and employees in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.
Grants will be awarded in one of three categories:
Community Awards: The objective of the HWC Community-based Pilot Project Grant Program is to enhance capacity to deliver evidence-based TWH programs. Community projects will be judged for feasibility and potential impact on the health and well-being of workers. We intend to fund at least one (1) community award, with a maximum permitted budget of $10,000.
New Investigator Awards: The HWC will fund at least one (1) new investigator award. New investigators may include junior faculty, post-doctoral trainees, medical residents and fellows, doctoral students, senior scientific staff, and senior faculty new to the TWH and HWC programs. If the principal investigator is a student or trainee, a faculty sponsor must be identified. The maximum permitted budget is $30,000.
Student Research Awards: The HWC will fund up to two (2) student research awards. Advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, medical residents, and fellows from the health sciences, engineering, or other applicable programs are encouraged to apply. Each student research proposal must have a faculty sponsor who will oversee the research. The maximum permitted budget is $5,000.
The application deadline is February 3, 2017, 5:00 pm (CDT). Back to the top
Laura's previous experience includes working as a worker's compensation and marketing coordinator for small healthcare organizations in Iowa City. She has experience working with injured workers, small businesses owners, and their care management team following work-related injuries. After studying psychology at the University of Iowa, Laura went on to earn a Master's of Healthcare Administration from Des Moines University. She hopes to apply her time and talents to improve the health and safety of workers in the Midwest.
5 Fun Facts About Laura
Growing up in rural Eastern Iowa she helped vaccinate & castrate pigs as a child.
She loves the great outdoors, and has hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim.
Although she enjoys mints, they are guaranteed to make her sneeze!
She was married in October to Michael, who works as a wet mill operator for ADM.
Her Bernese mountain dog, Max, will be 1 this week & already weighs 130 lb!
The workbook highlights five Defining Elements of Total Worker Health, which include the following:
1. Demonstrate leadership commitment to worker safety & health at all levels of the organization.
2. Design work to eliminate or reduce safety & health hazards and promote worker well-being.
3. Promote and support worker engagement throughout program design and implementation.
4. Ensure confidentiality and privacy of workers.
5. Integrate relevant systems to advance worker well-being.
As before, the Total Worker Health approach prioritizes the elimination of workplace hazards. The traditional occupational safety and health prevention principles have been applied to develop a new Hierarchy of Controls Applied to NIOSH Total Worker Health (see below). This new model provides guidance for prioritizing initiatives to advance worker safety, health, and well-being.
As you work through the Fundamentals of Total Worker Health® Approaches, assess the status of your organization's TWH program and plan new initiatives by using the Self-Assessment of Defining Elements of TWH and Action Plan worksheets.
Plan Ahead for Safe Winter Travels By: Mark Segerstrom
Thanksgiving is over and nearly 50 million Americans have returned home. Lower fuel prices, increased employment and wages are all causes of the increase in mobilization. As the December holidays approach, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics states half as many people will be on the roads as from Thanksgiving, but this remains a busy traveling period. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that from 2010-2014 New Year’s Day generally recorded the highest number of traffic fatalities. So, when traveling over the holidays, be aware of the four D’s of driving. Those include understanding and recognizing drugged, drowsy, distracted and defensive driving.
Mark Segerstrom, Road Safety Project Coordinator for the Nebraska Safety Council says recognizing a drugged or drowsy driver is part of being a defensive driver and helps keep you and your family safe. Segerstrom says, “Plan ahead for your trip. Be prepared by knowing where you’re going and plan ahead by having cold weather clothing and supplies in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Check your route and ensure that you know where you’re going and you have a clear path to your destination. During your travels say alert. Observe other drivers in your proximity. Are they swerving, driving slow or erratically, having a difficult time maintaining a constant speed or struggling to stay within their lane. These are all warning signs of either drugged or drowsy driving.”
Put your phone down. Better yet, turn it off until you arrive at your destination. Sending or reading a text generally takes about 4.6 seconds. If traveling on a highway, that is the same as driving the length of a football field without being aware of your surroundings. Segerstrom says that being a good defensive driver includes scanning 10-15 seconds ahead and anticipating potential driving hazards. Leave a minimum of three seconds between you and the driver ahead of you. If the roads are slick, slow down and leave a larger gap. Always leave yourself an out. Ask yourself, “If something was to happen here, what could I do to avoid making it worse?”
Take advantage of the technology that is out there. GPS is wonderful, but either review ahead of your leaving on a trip or have a passenger help with the directions. The Iowa DOT offers a 511 app to check on road conditions or detours. The Waze app is the world’s largest traffic and navigation app and alerts customers to potential traffic related hazards. MADD reports that every day 27 people die as a result of drunk driving. Hire an Uber if your plans have you celebrating at holiday parties.
The time of year is one to reflect and have fun with your work colleagues, family and friends. Remember that planning ahead and being safe is one way to avoid the pain and anguish of an avoidable accident.
The Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest (HWCMW) is one of six Total Worker Health® Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Our mission is to improve the health of workers in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as nationally, through integrated health promotion and health protection research, collaboration, and dissemination of successful interventions.