Way to go US Department of Labor! A recent ruling by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) actually promoted reporting of work injuries. In 2008, two “whistle-blowers” were terminated from employment at a railroad company after reporting their work-related injuries. OSHA investigated the incidents and determined that both workers followed proper safety and injury-reporting procedures. Furthermore, OSHA found that the workers were terminated for reporting their injuries. Based on the results of the OSHA investigation, the DOL decided that the railroad company illegally fired these employees and ordered the railroad to pay back wages and damages to the former employees.

Unfortunately, it is relatively common for workplace injuries to be underreported. Some of this lack of reporting is due to fear of retaliation. Certain workers fear that they may lose their job or be punished for reporting an injury that occurred at work. Other injuries may be underreported due to lack of knowledge about reporting procedures. However, in the railroad incident, this was not the case. These workers were clearly fired for reporting their injuries.

Accurate and complete reporting of work injuries is important for workplace injury metrics and studying causes of occupational injuries. If workers are not reporting their injuries, they may not be protected from these hazards in the future.

Hilkevitch, J. (2012, July 20). U.S. rules against Illinois Central railway in whistle-blower injury cases. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-20/news/ct-met-railroad-whistleblowers-0720-20120720_1_rail-cars-damages-conductor.

–Laura B.


Late last night on my way home, I saw several people being pulled over by police officers and thought to myself “How do they manage dealing with all sort of people breaking the law and doing crazy stuff at all hours of the day?  That would seriously wear me out.”  Then today, I found this article from the Huffington Post investigating why police officers may face increased health risks than the normal public.

The article mentions that police officers are worn out, and constant job stressors such as working night shift often and being exposed to hostile, violent, and/or gruesome situations are the greatest culprits increasing health risks to obesity, high suicide risk, and metabolic syndrome. “Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes” (Mayo Clinic, 2011).

Additionally, the article mentions the interesting idea of how the classification of health disparities might have to be expanded to include occupation, since the health disparities seen among in this situation are occupationally related and not based on the typical socioeconomic, racial/ethic, or gender disparities normally seen.

The article link is below:



Mayo Clinic. “Metabolic Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 08 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/metabolic%20syndrome/DS00522&gt;.

– Nicole

A good night’s sleep makes one ready to take on the day (or your job!) which makes it logical to say that not getting enough sleep makes one have a very “long and sleepy” day. Many studies have documented the impact of sleep deprivation on the society particularly among workers. It has been linked to vehicular crashes, work-related injuries impaired performance, weight gain and obesity and death.  

Consequences of shift work such as insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality have been linked to several health outcomes such as the development and exacerbation of insulin resistance, appetite and adiposity increase. Pan et al showed that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as the duration of work life as a shift worker increased. Sleep deprivation can also lead to weight gain which is a mediator for type 2 diabetes. It has been suggested that sleep deprivation could lead to fatigue resulting in reduced activity. Experimental studies also suggest that sleep deprivation could alter serum leptin and ghrelin levels and the alteration of these two protein hormones ultimately results in increased hunger and appetite. Patel at al. concluded that short sleep duration was associated with a modest increase in future weight gain and incident obesity among participants enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. Obese workers are at a higher risk of falls, sprains, strains and occupational injury. They also have higher sick leave or disability use and health care costs.

Although the sleep duration of 7-9 hours a day is recommended for healthy adults, the CDC found that at least 30.0 % of civilians employed U.S. do not get this recommended duration. Among all workers, the prevalence of short sleep duration was higher among night shift workers (44.0%) than among other shift workers (31.6%). Other shift workers were those who worked regular evenings, rotating shift or some other schedule. A prevalence of 69.7% and 52.3% was reported among night shift workers in the transportation and warehousing industry and health-care and social assistance industries respectively.

Shift work will become more common as the world becomes a global village and it is important that we address the challenges faced by these workers. According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of 2010, 3.7% of civilian employed U.S. adults work a regular night shift while 23.5% work some other shift. Research findings imply that increasing sleep duration among those sleeping less than 7 hours per night may represent a new approach to obesity prevention. This is a much needed intervention since it is estimated one out of every three adults in the United States are obese.  One approach as recommended by the CDC is the implementation of an evidence-based shift system design and sleep training programs to protect the health and safety of workers and the entire public.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). “Short sleep duration among workers–United States, 2010.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 61(16): 281-285.

Kivimaki, M., G. D. Batty, et al. (2011). “Shift work as a risk factor for future type 2 diabetes: evidence, mechanisms, implications, and future research directions.” PLoS Med 8(12): e1001138.

Lombardi, D. A., A. Wirtz, et al. (2012). “Independent Effects of Sleep Duration and Body Mass Index on the Risk of a Work-Related Injury: Evidence From the US National Health Interview Survey (2004-2010).” Chronobiol Int 29(5): 556-564.

Pan, A., E. S. Schernhammer, et al. (2011). “Rotating night shift work and risk of type 2 diabetes: two prospective cohort studies in women.” PLoS Med 8(12): e1001141.

Patel, S. R., A. Malhotra, et al. (2006). “Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women.” Am J Epidemiol 164(10): 947-954.



What is an association? a correlation? Is there a difference between these two words? 

While writing my MPH thesis, I was immediately corrected for using the two interchangeably. I’d like to hear from my fellow upcoming and practicing occupational epidemiologists what you think about these two words and how you use them. 

Looking forward to your comments!

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) on June 12, 2012.

In 1988, IARC classified diesel exhaust as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A). An Advisory Group which reviews and recommend future priorities for the IARC Monographs Program had recommended diesel exhaust as a high priority for re-evaluation since 1998.

The scientific evidence was reviewed thoroughly by the Working Group and overall it was concluded that there was sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust. The Working Group found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer (sufficient evidence) and also noted a positive association (limited evidence) with an increased risk of bladder cancer (Group 1).

The Working Group concluded that gasoline exhaust was possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), a finding unchanged from the previous evaluation in 1989.

The link below will direct you to the press release of WHO IARC:


Since numerous efforts have been made by many scientists for the WHO IARC to declare diesel exhaust a human carcinogen, the recent studies by Dr. Debra Silverman and her colleagues bore the fruit. A news article from New York Times delivers a story:


Joon (Joonhyun Ahn)

Thought it would be of interest to connect you to another occupational blog that has some current (June 2012) information about the ongoing American Industrial Hygiene Conference. It also contains a video of a talk by Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH. See http://johncherrie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/day-3-at-american-industrial-hygiene.html#!/2012/06/day-3-at-american-industrial-hygiene.html

Junior Seau, retired San Diego Chargers football player, committed suicide.  It is believed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by mild brain trauma.  CTE is known to causes depression and increased aggression.  Seau isn’t the only retiree that has committed suicide.  There have been several retired players who have recently committed suicide.  The many retired players are trying to sue the NFL for the brain damage they received while playing.  This is causing the condition to be studied more intensely by the NFL and many NFL athletes are deciding to allow their brains to be studied after they pass away.  I find this interesting because I enjoy watching football and played football for 4 years in high school, but what makes this study unusual and important is the amount of publicity it is receiving.  The NFL is the top grossing professional sport but football could suffer a huge blow if studies suggest a direct association between CTE and football.  It would affect whether or not people decided to play, employee contracts, and public relations.  This will be an important study to follow.  It could very well affect the way that occupational epi studies are conducted.  The link for an article by the Center for Neurological Studies, CNS follows: http://news.yahoo.com/cns-neurologist-collaborate-brain-injury-study-among-nfl-143038468.html