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Worker Health and Safety

More than 4,800 U.S. workers suffered fatal injuries on the job in 2015. Forty-four workers were killed on the job in Oregon that same year.

The workplace can be a dangerous environment, especially in certain industries. But issues with worker health and safety go far beyond the extreme case of fatalities. Workers also suffer other injuries, of course. And the conditions at people’s jobs have a significant effect on their overall health and well-being — from how much or how little they exercise to their overall levels of stress.

More than a half dozen faculty members with the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health are conducting research to gain a better understanding of all of these issues. They are part of one of the six Centers of Excellence in the U.S. that are devoted to researching overall worker health and safety. The Oregon-based Center of Excellence — called the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center – is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and is housed at OHSU.

Working through the center, School of Public Health researchers:

  • Are helping to improve the health and well-being of military service members by working with supervisors in service members’ civilian jobs to provide more supportive workplaces.
  • Have developed a program designed to decrease job strain by training supervisors to become more attentive to their employees’ work-life issues. The study found improvements through the program — with employees’ blood pressure decreasing and employees believing the effectiveness of their work teams had improved.
  • Are helping to improve the health and safety of home care workers by organizing them into neighborhood-based teams that provide education and social support. The support helps them improve lifestyle behaviors like diet, exercise and safety behaviors in the job.
  • Have shown that truck drivers can be encouraged to eat healthier and lose weight through a weight-loss competition among truckers.
  • Have completed studies that show that workers who have increased ability to control their work schedules, their breaks and their time off have improved health and are safer on the job.