Growing anti-regulatory pressure and presidential politics bring new hurdles for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which was already known for its snail-like pace of rulemaking. The agency has delayed the release of several key regulations, and observers expect little to emerge in the midst of an election year.
As an occupational health professional, you spend virtually all of your time focusing on work-related issues. "We are also environmental experts as well. I think that this gets lost in our focus," says Grace Paranzino, EdD, RN, CHES, FAAOHN, chief clinical officer at Americas Product GroupHealthcare in Troy, MI.
If you're planning to invest in dozens of mountain bikes for sedentary office workers to ride during lunch breaks, you may abandon the idea if most admit they'd never use them because they don't want to get sweaty at work. On the other hand, if a worker tells you she wouldn't dream of using the company gym because it's too dirty, providing antibacterial wipes is an easy, low-cost solution.
Growing numbers of companies are implementing "no hire" policies for smokers, while others are imposing health premium penalties for workers who smoke. Reasons include higher health care costs, decreased productivity, and higher absenteeism all linked to smoking.
An employee's misuse of opioids may go undetected unless there is a positive drug screen, poor job performance, high absenteeism, erratic behavior, an accident or near miss, or an overdose. You may be the only one who can prevent this from happening.
Despite tireless efforts to promote workplace influenza vaccination programs, the vast majority of occupational health professionals see participation rates that are far less than what they hoped for. One reason, not surprisingly, is a misconception that the vaccine itself can give you the flu.
In its compliance directive on workplace violence, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises employers to conduct a hazard analysis, assess needs for physical changes to reduce risk, provide employee training, and implement a variety of controls, such as bright lighting and security cameras.