Improving Worker Health & Safety


October 2013
Winter Wonderland at the SBDC Women's Small Business Conference in Copper Mountain - Promoting Wellness at Work (Health Links Colorado) October 17, 2013
Save the Date!
The Rocky Mountain Academy will host its annual Occupational & Environmental Medicine Conference at the Anschutz Medical Campus
January 31 - February 1, 2014
This year's theme: "Emerging Issues and Other Occupational and Preventive Medicine Matters."
Registration information is soon to follow.

Ergonomics of the Modern Dynamic Office


Join us for a special live course!

 November 14, 2013 

9am - 12pm 

 Anschutz Medical Campus



Click here to register and for more information

National Worker Health & Safety Conference


Save the date !

 When: December 11 & 12, 2013 

Where: Baltimore, MD



Click here for more information

  • The DOE Scholars Program is now open for application - click here to get details & to apply
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for a Senior Nuclear Medicine Technologis click here for more details.
  •  The Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences as an opening for a post-doctoral research fellow to examine exposure to cookstove emissions in Honduras. Click here for more details.
  • The Department of Health Services is looking for a Health Physicist for their Inspection Unit. Apply today, just click here.
Reflections of a Student Experience

As a graduate student in the department of Environmental Health and Radiological Sciences at Colorado State University, it is a requirement to complete an internship in your respective discipline. This past summer I earned the opportunity to intern for Boeing Commercial Airlines, which is a sub company of The Boeing Company, practicing ergonomics in one of the largest manufacturing sites worldwide.


I was assigned to assist the 777 ergonomics team. My project started with a goal of minimizing risk for upper extremity injury across all of the manufacturing lines. Because of the scope and size of process, facility, and the 10-week time limitation, the goal was very challenging.


To achieve the goal of injury reduction, it was necessary to observe the high risk jobs of concern. I observed different work tasks in many areas and assessed the jobs using both Boeing's Ergonomic assessment checklist and the OCRA method checklist. Both assessment tools provide comprehensive analyses of the tasks and estimate risk. They also provide different aspects of the tasks where improvements should be made to minimize risk for injury, such as minimizing forcefulness, awkward shoulder postures, etc.


In addition to providing recommendations to how to improve the job tasks, the most important part of my summer project was designing injury prevention training. The primary goal was to educate the workers about body posture to improve health and prevent injury. Most of the work was highly repetitive leading to fatigue and poor postures. The training focused on reducing these compensatory postures that could increase risk for injury.


Overall my summer at The Boeing Company was a wonderful experience. I learned a great deal about the application of Ergonomics in an industrial setting. Most importantly I learned firsthand the value of communicating with the workers on the manufacturing floor. Although I may have knowledge about ergonomics, no one can understand how to do the work tasks better than the workers.


Lee Newman

Taking Stock: What Are We Accomplishing?


The Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC) recently reported its accomplishments as part of our annual renewal for funding from the CDC.


I'd like to highlight four sources of pride in what the faculty, staff, and trainees have achieved since our founding in July 2007. Let me start by saying "Thank you" to all of you who have contributred to these milestones.


Please click here to view our accomplishments. You will find that it's a clear case: we help keep workers healthy and safe. Healthy workers make for healthy businesses and help fuel the economic success of the country.


In the Spotlight
Brian Williams, OMR

Each month we like to shine the spotlight on a trainee or student who is doing great things within the Center and the MAP ERC. This month we'd like to shine the light on Brian Williams who is in our Occupational Medicine Residency Program. 


A little about Brian:   

I grew up in Mississippi, and graduated from The University of Mississippi Medical Center in 2003. I moved to Denver, where I completed my residency in family medicine at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital's program. I worked for 2 years with Kaiser Permanente here in Denver. My wife Melissa is an ENT, and upon completion of her residency, we moved to Cooperstown, NY (home of the baseball hall of fame.) I practiced in Cooperstown for 3 years before moving to Columbus, OH, where my wife began her fellowship in pediatrics for ENT. While in Columbus, I was on faculty at The Ohio State University's family medicine residency program. During my year in Columbus, I also completed a fellowship in primary care faculty development at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. After my wife finished her pediatrics fellowship, she was hired as full time pediatric ENT faculty at the Children's Hospital of Colorado. This brought us back to Denver after a 4 year absence. This transition coincided perfectly for me, allowing me to begin the training program in occupational and environmental medicine. I decided to change fields because I was interesting in pursuing a public health field while still utilizing my clinical skills from my family medicine training. I have 2 sons, Archer and Griffin, ages 6 and 3 who keep me very busy.


A little more about Brian:

CWHE: With your busy schedule as an Occ. Med. Resident, what is your favorite thing to do with your family to make sure you have work-life balance during your week?

BW: Despite my busy schedule with my MPH coursework and clinical duties, my family and I love the great outdoors, and we try to plan a camping trip for at least once a month. We have explored many parts of Colorado and Utah over the past year. We are particularly drawn to the Collegiate Peaks area down near Buena Vista. I also love sports of all kinds, which is why Denver is a perfect place to call home. I play golf as often as possible (not that often these days), and try to take in a couple of Broncos games each season. When my sons play backyard football, they pretend they are Peyton and Eli Manning.  



CWHE: As a resident working on different research projects, what is the craziest thing you've seen in the field that has to do with occupational health or safety?

BW: I think the most interesting activities I have participated in since joining the OEM residency have been related to nuclear energy and our atomic energy and weaponry legacy. I have visited a uranium mining operation in Wyoming, and the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. At Los Alamos, I was able to tour the testing facilities along with health physics students from CSU. As the physician in the group, I also participated in mock scenarios for environmental contamination from an accidental release into the community, and conduct a decontamination on a worker injured while handling "radioactive" material. These are opportunities I would have never imagined when I was in training for family medicine. I think an escape from the more mundane world of primary care was exactly what I was looking for, and I'm glad I found it in OEM!


Thank you, Brian, for allowing us to get to know you more. Keep up the great work, we are glad you joined OEM and found exactly what you were looking for. We look forward to seeing more of your great work.

Continuing Education News & Updates
Dave Gilkey, Director of CE

I recently presented ergonomic principles for physicians on behalf of the MAP ERC ergonomics training program and continuing education. The Grand Rounds group was comprised of nearly 50 students from the medicine, physicians assist and nursing programs at the UCHSC. The thrust of my presentation was to encourage providers to ask detailed questions about work systems, environments, exposures and perceptions to enhance patient outcomes. The group was very interactive and asked great questions. The ergonomics program continues to provide outreach and education to enhance worker health. 

Dr. Gilkey with the Rural Health Med. Students
An Interesting Story from NBC News


Check out this story from NBC news about a Malibu High School with some serious health issues. It goes to show just how important our jobs are when we put what we are learning into practice.

Health & Wellness
Dianne Metcalf

Get Up & Move - Risks of the Sedentary Life


Evidence continues to accumulate that a sedentary lifestyle has negative consequences for health. A recently published report from the United Kingdom (Stamatakis, et al) analyzed health data from more than 10,000 individuals and reported on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-related mortality as the primary outcomes.  The study examined the effects of occupational activity level (a sitting occupation vs. a standing/walking occupation) as well as non-occupational activity level. Not surprisingly, the men and women who were most active outside of work and who had active (standing/walking) occupations had reduced all-cause mortality (26% and 53%, respectively).   For women only, a standing/walking occupation and a high non-occupational activity level also resulted in a 40% reduction in cancer mortality. High levels of physical activity outside of work combined with a sedentary occupation did not result in significant mortality reduction.


Although the aforementioned study is one more piece of evidence in a complicated puzzle, what can you do if you have a typical desk job?   In the past few years, media outlets have reported heavily on the adverse effects of sitting at work, and have popularized the use of standing desks, treadmill desks, and standing meetings. But if you work in an environment that can't implement these active strategies, be encouraged that even very small changes can probably have an impact. A 2008 study from Australia (Healy, et al) demonstrated that diabetics who took more frequent breaks in otherwise sedentary time had significantly smaller waistlines and lower blood glucose measurements than their counterparts with continuous, uninterrupted sedentary time . For the purposes of the study, an "activity break" was defined as an event which registered above a threshold on an accelerometer, but probably was as insignificant as standing up from a sitting position or walking a single step.   Although this study may not be generalizable to non-diabetic healthy individuals, it does support the idea that getting up and moving frequently- even a little - can be beneficial.  



Finally, check out this excellent video about sitting at work, and enjoy the tips on improving your posture while sitting and the reminder to get up and MOVE!


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