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2015 Top Five Highlights from MCN’s Environmental and Occupational Health Team

This year was a very busy one for MCN’s Environmental and Occupational Health team. Our hard-working Maryland office completed a number of projects and initiated some ambitious new ones, to keep workers safe on the job and assist health centers in identifying and reporting occupational injuries and exposures. Here are just five of the Environmental and Occupational Health team’s successful projects in 2015.

Integrating Occupational Health into Primary Care

MCNMCN completed a year-long research project to explore and document the barriers to occupational health that exist in primary care settings. Project findings were the result of two site visits to health centers and numerous focus groups and key informant interviews with health center staff, including physicians, midwives, medical assistants, billing staff, and health center administration, among others. Findings were compiled into next steps and recommendations which were presented to the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as part of the final report. Read about the site visit to Salud Para la Gente as part of this project.

Lack of Documentation Revealed as an Occupational Hazard

In December, MCN’s Amy Liebman published “Immigrant Dairy Workers’ Perceptions of Health and Safety on the Farm in America’s Heartland,” an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine that presents dairy workers’ health risks, hazards, and injuries, as they reported them during five focus groups in Wisconsin. The results indicated that a worker’s undocumented status is an occupational hazard, an important finding for clinicians and worker health advocates. 

Worker Protection Standard

MCNMCN has advocated for more than 20 years to strengthen the regulations that protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure. In 2015, MCN celebrated the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s revised Worker Protection Standard. “These changes are an important step in the right direction and will help protect the health of farmworkers and their families from pesticide overexposure,” noted Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, Director of Environmental and Occupational Health, upon the release of the revised standard.

The revised WPS includes many key provisions including: a minimum age of 18 for pesticide handlers; annual worker safety training, increased from every five years; enhanced worker safety trainings which include new topics like paraoccupational exposure; new rules on decontamination and personal protective equipment; and, an increase in access to information that workers receive about the pesticides that have been applied at their workplace. 

New Materials for Health and Safety of Workers

MCNMCN announced the availability of a five-module comprehensive safety and health curriculum aimed at immigrant dairy workers with the launch of the Seguridad en las Lecherías webpage. In May, MCN, National Farm Medicine Center, and four partner organizations received the inaugural Stakeholder Collaboration in Occupational Injury Research Award from the National Safety Council for the Seguridad project. 

This year, we also offered copies of popular pesticide comic books. Almost 50,000 copies of the comic books were ordered on the first day of ordering!

New Grant in 2015; Lots More Work Ahead

MCN was awarded a Susan Harwood Training and Capacity Building Grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). MCN will partner with two community health centers to implement a train-the-trainer program which will integrate environmental and occupational health and worker trainings into the health center’s outreach program. MCN’s train-the-trainer program with HOPE clinic in Houston, TX will target immigrant nail salon workers, while the program with Hospital General Castañer in Puerto Rico will target agricultural workers. While we received this grant in 2015, much of the hard work is ahead of us in 2016. We look forward to continuing to assure workers’ health and safety both at their workplace and in the exam room, through this project and many others, in the years ahead.

Support our Environmental and Occupational Health work and all of our programs at Migrant Clinicians Network, between now and December 31st, and your donation will be doubled $1 for $1!

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