Labor department risk rule officially unveiled

The Department of Labor has officially proposed a rule which would change the way two agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), calculate on-the-job risks.

Australian study on depression

A new Australian study finds that almost one in six cases of depression among working people are caused by job stress.

Letter from Peter Schnall

I’ve recently returned from a conference in Medellín Colombia – held September 2nd -5th, 2008 and sponsored by RIPSOL (see below) intended to discuss psychosocialwork factors and their impact on health (the 1st such conference  held in Colombia).

Work Hours and Self-Reported Hypertension Among Working People in California

Haiou Yang, Peter L. Schnall, Maritza Jauregui, Ta-chen Su, Dean Baker

Abstract—Among the risk factors for hypertension, stress, especially work stress, has drawn increasing attention. Another potential work-related risk factor for hypertension identified in the past few years is work hours. This article presents an analysis of work hours and self-reported hypertension among the working population in the state of California. The data set used for this study comes from the Public Use File of the 2001 California Health Interview Survey. The logistic regression analysis shows a positive association between hours worked per week and likelihood of having self-reported hypertension. Compared with those working between 11 and 39 hours per week, individuals working 40 hours per week were 14% (95% CI: 1.01 to 1.28) more likely to report hypertension, those who worked between 41 and 51 hours per week were 17% (95% CI: 1.04 to 1.33) more likely to report hypertension, and those who worked 51 hours per week were 29% (95% CI: 1.10 to 1.52) more likely to report hypertension after controlling for various potentially confounding variables, including demographic and biological risk factors and socioeconomic status. This analysis provides evidence
of a positive association between work hours and hypertension in the California working population. (Hypertension. 2006;48:1-2.)

Key Words: occupations  risk factors  behavior

Click here for a pdf of the full article.



When John Froines proposed a statewide conference of “The Future of Psychosocial Stress Research” he opened the door to a dialog about what we as psychosocial stress researchers in California should be doing next. It seems to me there are a number of possibilities (not necessarily mutually exclusive).

1. Continue what we are doing now, with periodic discussions such as those held by the CWHSG
2. Reexamine our current research efforts to identify positives and negatives with the goal of redirecting our future research to answer new questions.
3. Begin research/prevention projects aimed at utilizing our new knowledge about the workplace and various health outcomes to improve work and health conditions (prevention and intervention activities). The SF Muni bus driver project would be a good example.
4. Begin sharing our knowledge with various stake holders who would normally have a vested interest in what we believe we know (such as health care providers, unions, etc.)
i. Educational courses such as our recent UCLA OHP course would be one example of this kind of activity while
ii. A “white paper” might be another. Here I am assuming that one of the purposes of a white paper is to contribute to a public consensus on the issues and potential solutions.

To target stakeholders implies we have a common knowledge base which generate an agreed upon agenda for the future. It is not clear to me (us) that this is the case. One way to go about exploring this issue is to attempt to write a “white paper” which would be a consensus statement on a wide range of relevant issues. A “white paper” probably should go beyond the “Tokyo Declaration” which was mainly a policy statement. The Tokyo Declaration assumed a shared set of research findings and conclusions. A “white paper” might include state of the art reviews of various topics (e.g., identified workplace risk factors, health outcomes affected by them, summaries of intervention findings, training needs, etc.). Key question for readers of this letter – How do we kick start this dialog? Do we start with another conference to discuss these issues in detail or hold a discussion utilizing email with a goal of trying to find a consensus prior to another general meeting. If the latter then one path would be to comment on the proposed white paper with the idea of identifying areas we might wish to contribute to. In looking at the proposed “White Paper” outline below it occurs to me that since we have an OM:STAR already on this topic that the first section – what do we know – be quite short and in the form of a summary. Another approach would be a document along the lines of the Tokyo Declaration – updated to include new materials and goals as reflected in our current work in California. This would result in a much shorter document.

A proposed outline for a “White Paper”

Paul Landsbergis has suggested the following outline as the basis for a “white paper” on psychosocial stressors.

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