Highlights of occupational health and safety research published in the last year

Researchers who assess the impact of working conditions on health have had a busy year publishing their findings in the peer-reviewed literature. The final section of our report The Year in US Occupational Health & Safety: Fall 2013 – Summer 2014—which we wrote about on Monday and Tuesday—profiles some of the best papers published in the last 12 months that provide insight into the scores of different workplace hazards and their relationship with injuries and illnesses.

Especially prominent in the literature were studies involving Latino workers, healthcare workers, construction workers, and those who responded to the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. In all, we provide brief summaries of 25 studies that address these four worker groups. We include, for example, a study by von Ehrenstein and colleagues who investigated the relationship between maternal occupation and birth outcomes. Using data from births in Los Angeles County, the authors report that work in food prep and serving, production jobs, among others, increased the odds for Latina mothers by as much as three times of having a full-term, but low birth weight newborn. We also provide citations to more than 75 papers as a way to tip our hats to OHS researchers and recognize their contribution to public health. The diversity of their topics of research is impressive and includes:

  • Trends in back injuries among drywall installers
  • The influence of shift work on female workers getting recommended cancer screenings
  • Physical assaults among education workers
  • Perspectives of workers on providing biospecimens for research
  • Effect of production pressure on injury reporting

“New Research on Worker Health and Safety” (p. 37-46 and 49-53) is the section of our annual report where we also recap publications from non-profit organizations and a few papers published in law reviews. These include reports by the UC Berkeley Labor Center and U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on the economic impact on public assistance programs (e.g., Medicaid, TANF, SNAP) of low-wage work in the fast-food industry; Public Citizen’s report on the cost of unsafe construction projects in New York City; and a US Senate majority staff report on labor law violations by companies with major federal contracts. The latter is a topic that was addressed in July 2013 by a new Executive Order signed by President Obama (which is also described in The Year in US Occupational Health & Safety: Fall 2013 – Summer 2014.

The previous posts in this series are:

A Labor Day look back at the year in worker health and safety (here)

A Labor Day look at state and local actions for worker health (here)

 

 

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