252247 Health of the low-income workforce: Integrating public health and occupational health approaches

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:45 AM

Sherry L. Baron, MD MPH , Coordinator Occupational Health Disparities, National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC, Cincinnati, OH
Laura Punnett , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Laura Linnan, ScD , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Sharon D. Beard, IH , Worker Education and Training Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC
Laura Welch, MD , Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Letitia Davis, ScD , Occupational Health Surveillance Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Andrea Kidd-Taylor, DrPH, MSPH , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Linda Forst, MD, PhD , School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
Workers' health, and especially low-income workers' health, was among the central concerns of the social reform movement to improve public health in the early 20th century. Today, work-related health factors are rarely considered in public health research or intervention programs targeting low-income populations. Conversely, few workplace safety and health programs, especially where low-income workers are employed, effectively address the broader range of public health problems impacting workers health. Additionally, work-related factors such as long working hours, shift work, and long commuting times create time constraints that complicate low-income workers' ability to access public health and health promotion opportunities. The absence of these comprehensive and integrated public health and occupational health programs likely contributes to health disparities, especially among low-income workers who are least likely to have access to such programs. Some recent initiatives that target low-income communities have tried to better integrate occupational health into mainstream public health programs such as through community health centers, public health departments and community-based participatory intervention programs. Also, recent NIOSH worklife initiatives have developed innovative projects that emphasize the importance of the workplace as the site for broader public health initiatives aimed at both preventing workplace exposures and promoting healthy behaviors., This presentation will examine the barriers, successes, and opportunities for better integrating occupational health concerns into the mainstream public health infrastructure and public health into the mainstream occupational health infrastructure, with a focus on programs that target low-income communities.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Identify factors that led to the separation of public health and occupational health between the early 20th century and now.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Sherry Baron is the coordinator for Occupational Health Disparities at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She was also leader of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Special Populations at Risk team. Her research at NIOSH has focused on field investigations and developing public health intervention programs for low wage and immigrant workers. Her work included a two-year assignment at the Pan American Health Organization regional center on environmental health in Mexico, where she developed collaborative occupational safety and health training and research projects with the Mexican Health Ministry. She is a board certified physician in occupational and internal medicine.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.