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Apprentices underestimate ladder risk: report

Researchers from the Washington State University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Duke University in Durham, NC; and the Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity surveyed 1,025 apprentices to assess their fall prevention knowledge, risk perceptions, confidence, training, perceived safety climate and crew safety behaviors. About 16% of the apprentices reported falling in the past year, and more than 50% knew someone who had fallen.

While the biggest predictor of falls was less than one year of experience in construction, many do not understand the potential risk. Most apprentices said they had not received training on proper ladder use. About 87% were trained on fall protection systems, although only 13% of worksites used them, the release said.

Recommendations included better fall prevention training for apprentices, and contractors and researchers should work together to improve the safety culture.

Failing to lose the fat – adult obesity rates increased in 2009

Obesity rates now top 25% in 75% of the states, with Colorado being the only state coming in under 20%., according to the report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010," released this week by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Currently, 38 states have adult obesity rates higher than 25%. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate greater than 20%.

Obesity seems to be more highly concentrated in the South, where 10 out of 11 states with the highest rates are located. Obesity also appears to be more common among lower-income individuals. The report indicated 35.3% of people making less than $15,000 annually were obese, compared with 24.5% earning $50,000 or more.

The report included recommended actions that could be taken at federal, state and community levels to reduce obesity rates nationwide.

Backs in Action: New resource for health sector employees

The Heath and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) show approximately one third of all ‘over-three-day’ and major injuries reported each year to HSENI by health sector employers are of a sprain/strain nature. They have published a new booklet, Backs in Action as a practical resource for those employees whose job involves the moving and handling of people and objects.

Postal service cited for unsafe conditions

The entire United States Postal Service (USPS) has been cited for unsafe working conditions by the U.S. Department of Labor. Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith filed a complaint July 6, 2010, against USPS for electrical work safety violations. The complaint, which stems from violations found at the Providence, R.I., USPS facility, asks the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order USPS to correct electrical violations at its 350 facilities across the country. It is the first time in the Labor Department’s history that it has sought enterprisewide relief as a remedy, according to a news release from the Department of Labor.

Practices intended to boost profits may harm professional workers: study

Employer-implemented measures intended to improve productivity and profit may increase stress on workers, suggests a study from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Researchers examined data on working conditions, workplace relationships and worker behavior of professional employees over the past 80 years. The researchers found that, over that period, employers have increasingly implemented measures that they feel will improve worker productivity and profits. These measures include layoffs, outsourcing jobs, replacing salaried employees with contract staff, and putting employees onto short-term teams designed to tackle individual projects. Those measures had unintended negative consequences for employees, who may face an overwhelming work pace and feel a greater sense of chaos, fear and distrust of management, according to a university press release.

Workers also are less likely to help others because they want to protect their own jobs, which can lead to co-worker conflict and more stress. They also have less loyalty and less commitment to employers’ goals. Such practices can result in high turnover rates in the long term, researchers said.

The study will be published in the August issue of Social Problems.