CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo

Occupational Health and Safety

Meeting theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 3, 2017

We are seeking high quality abstracts on topics related to workers’ health and safety for the 145th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in Atlanta, GA. To complement the APHA theme, preference will be given to abstracts which integrate climate change in the presentation of the research.Please submit an abstract for a poster, oral, or roundtable presentation.  Accepted abstracts for oral and roundtable presentations will be grouped with other abstracts on complementary topics by the OHS program committee into 90-minute sessions.  

Oral sessions:  The 90-minute oral sessions will typically feature four (18-20 minute each) scientific presentations and a brief time period for audience Q&A.  (Individuals wishing to propose a full 90-minute oral session should follow instructions provided below.)

Roundtable Sessions:  The 90-minute roundtable sessions will typically feature six to eight speakers who are given 3-5 minutes each to describe their research, outreach, advocacy, or discussion topic.  The speakers are then situated at different roundtables and audience members select a table and engage in a discussion with that speaker for a 20-minute period.  A second 20-minute discussion period is offered to allow the audience to switch tables and speak with a different presenter.  Projectors and other audio visual (AV) equipment are not provided in the roundtable sessions.  In this more interactive format, the OHS Section encourages speakers to use other methods to present their work, such as a handout, photos, a poster, or tablet/laptop display.  If a roundtable session is your preference, please write “interested in roundtable” in the notes section on the on-line abstract submission form.

Student and New Researchers Poster Competition:  This year we will again feature a Student and New Researcher Competition. All Students (currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs) and New Researchers (within 2 years of completion of last degree) are encouraged to submit abstracts on worker health and safety topics. If your abstract is accepted for a poster presentation, it will be evaluated by the Program Planning Committee for possible inclusion in the poster competition. (Evaluation criteria for the poster competition will be provided to the participants in advance of the meeting.) If you want to be considered for this competition, please submit under the "New researchers or new practitioners in OHS wanting to participate in the new researcher or new OHS practitioner poster competition (any OHS topics welcome by new researchers and students)" topic area. 

Special Information for Students and Community Members:  The OHS section encourages students and local community members to submit abstracts for our program.  The OHS Section offers a limited number of scholarships for students, labor union representative and community-based organizations.  Please see the OHS Section page on the APHA web site for scholarship information.  The OHS Section also has a limited number of one-day passes and will offer them to individuals with accepted abstracts who have limited means to pay for the conference registration fee.

Instructions for preparing abstracts:  Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words.  Where applicable, organize your abstract into four sections: Background and Objective(s), Methods, Results, Conclusion(s).  We understand that you may not have results at the time of submission; if not, please include preliminary results or expected outcomes. 

The OHS Section strives to offer a full program of scientific sessions at which participants are able to earn the following continuing education (CE) credits: CME, CHES, CNE, CPH, MCHES.  We require each abstract to include each of the following:

(1) At least one measurable objective, which must include one of the following action words: explain, demonstrate, analyze, formulate, discuss, compare, differentiate, describe, name, assess, evaluate, identify, design, define, or list. Note: ‘to understand’ or ‘to learn’ are not measurable objectives.  If there is a connection between your topic and climate change, please state it clearly and convincingly in the abstract as an objective.

(2)  No mention of any trade and/or commercial products.

(3) A signed Conflict of Interest form with a relevant qualification statement.  Your qualifications statement should list your unique expertise to present the information identified in your abstract.  Note: “I am a professor at XYZ university” is not deemed an acceptable qualifications statement by the CE accrediting organizations.  Examples of acceptable qualifications statement would be: “I have conducted research on the ABC topic for 5 years, and was the co-PI on this project,” or “I conducted the data analysis on this project.”

The CE accrediting organizations expect the educational learning content to be of sound science or professional practice, and serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills and professional competence of the health professional. Learning content should be evidence-based if available. A list of over 20 areas will be provided online from which to choose. You will be asked to choose at least one or up to six areas that your presentation will address. Failing to address the mentioned CE guidelines, may result in abstract rejection.

Abstract reviewers will focus on the following, please use this as a guide in developing your abstracts.  Abstracts with high scores should:

  • Describe the research, policy analysis, or other OHS activity clearly
  • Integrate policy or practical implications in the presentation of the research
  • Involve a particularly urgent OHS topic
  • Involve a novel OHS topic or research methodology
  • Describe how their research might be impacted by climate change

Information for those who wish to submit a proposal for a full 90-minute session:  The OHS Section will also accept abstracts that propose a complete session with 4-5 presenters.  The organizer of a proposed session must submit a “session abstract.”  The title of the abstracts should begin:  “Full Session:” e.g., “Full Session: H&S hazards for animal control officers.”  In the first sentence of the abstract write, “this is an abstract for a 90-minute session,” and then describe briefly the session objectives.  In the "Comments to Organizers" box in the Title step, include the names of each proposed presenter and the title of their presentations. (Do not include the names of each proposed presenter and the title of their presentations in the body of the abstract.)   List the organizer or key contact person for the proposed session as the “first author” on session abstract. 

In addition to the “session abstract,” each proposed speaker must also submit an abstract.  The organizer of the session is responsible for ensuring that the “session abstract” and all individual abstracts are submitted by the submission deadline of February 23, 2017.  They should indicate in the ‘notes’ field of the on-line abstract submission form that their abstract is part of the [proposed title of session] organized by [name of organizer].

It is the session organizer’s responsibility to inform each proposed presenter that, if their abstract is accepted, they will be required to register for the conference, and pay the registration fee.  All presenters are also required to be a member of APHA, and session organizers should ask their presenters to designate the OHS Section as one of their APHA Sections.

Slots for 90-minute sessions are very competitive.  Proposals for a 90-minute session will be evaluated by the OHS Section reviewers based on the quality of each individual abstract, as well as the degree to which the individual abstracts complement each other, the diversity of the speakers e.g., different disciplines, organizations, backgrounds and the proposed session’s potential contribution to the overall OHS Section scientific program. If the full session proposal is not accepted, we will consider integrating the individual abstracts into other OHS Section sessions.

You will be notified on or around June 1, 2017 if your session abstract is accepted or rejected.  Due to large number of abstracts we receive and limited time slots available for presentations, preference will be given to speakers who designate “Occupational Health & Safety” as one of their APHA Sections.

If you have any questions about where you think you might fit or if you want to propose a full session please contact the program planners.

Please submit abstracts according to the following proposed session topics with APHA's 2017 Annual Meeting theme "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health" in mind:

  • Aging & Young Workforce Health and Safety
  • Climate change: Impact on worker health and safety
  • Disaster response
    (Disaster cleanup, Spill remediation, Disaster
  • Energy workers' compensation: Community and worker impacts
  • Food safety, workers safety and safe environments: Essential for a sustainable food system
  • Fractionalized workforce and/or occupational health disparities
    (e.g., low-wage workers, temporary workers, day laborers, temp workers, misclassified workers, force labor, human trafficking
  • Healthcare and community health workers and/or intersection of patient safety and worker safety
  • History of occupational health & safety in U.S. and across the globe
  • Illness related to work
    (e.g., cancer, dermatitis, chronic disease)
  • Industrial hygiene & exposure assessment
    (e.g., biomonitoring; laboratory safety; nanotechnology)
  • Infectious disease (Bloodborne pathogens, Zika, Healthcare and non-healthcare
    (e.g., waste handling, transportation, airport workers, agriculture, food) etc.)
  • Injuries related to work
    (e.g., acute and chronic, repetitive motion, ergonomics, slips/trips/falls)
  • International experiences and efforts in OHS
  • LUNCH: OHS 2016 Awards
  • New researchers or new practitioners in OHS wanting to participate in the new researcher or new OHS practitioner poster competition
    any OHS topics welcome by new researchers and students
  • OHS surveillance
    (e.g., state/local agency surveillance, BLS SOII and CFOI, injury epidemiology methods)
  • Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP)
  • Occupational and environmental health justice
  • Safety in the workplace
    (e.g., new hazards, effective interventions, system safety, safety culture)
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Work organization and health
    (e.g., extended shifts, overtime, bathroom breaks, labor standard (wage/hour), schedule control, stress, workplace wellness programs (pros, cons, controversies))
  • Workers' compensation
  • Other OHS Topics
    (e.g., intervention effectiveness, prevention through design, built environment)

Climate change is now widely recognized as the greatest threat to public health and will continue to increase in importance over the next century. Climate change is a major public health threat due to the ways in which it will change the physical, biological, and social contexts of human societies. It will also exacerbate most of our existing public health problems, many of which already seem intractable. For this reason, APHA has made the theme of the 2017 annual meeting in Atlanta, GA, Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health. Additionally, APHA has designated 2017 the Year of Climate and Health and has made climate change a major focus of programming and advocacy.

The APHA Climate Topic Committee, an intersectional interest group in which OHS has been strongly represented, has requested that every section encourage its members to attempt to address climate change in as many presentations and activities submitted for the 2017 annual meeting as possible. There is an urgency and a necessity behind this request because the public health community, including the OHS community, is playing catch up. Additionally, climate change requires us to think forward – not just what we have done (which is how we think about presentations at APHA), but what we will do. Not all presentations will have climate change as a central focus, but we would suggest that all authors address how climate change will impact the OHS concerns they are working on. It is difficult to entertain these big picture issues without encouragement from the program announcement to do so.

To date, most presentations on climate change and workers’ health have addressed outdoor workers (mostly construction and agriculture); workers who will engage in response, recovery and rebuilding during and after extreme weather disasters; and workers in the renewable energy sectors. Global warming related climate change will affect the health and safety of all workers and communities.

  1. Workers will experience acute and chronic exposures due to conditions created by climate change, including respiratory effects, heat stress, psychological trauma, infectious diseases and safety hazards. These will affect both indoor and outdoor workers, in a diverse array of sectors, but new categories based on geography (such as coastal areas) and economic position will also contribute to health and safety vulnerability.
  2. Climate change will result in increasing disruption to “normality” that will pose challenges to health and safety management and work schedules and expectations.
  3. “Total worker health” will become increasingly a concern through climate change impacts on multiple sources of stress, underlying health issues, work-life balance, and transportation impacts.
  4. Job loss and economic transition will impact many sectors.  Workers in declining industries will face acute safety challenges and need whistleblower protection.  
  5. Sectors likely to expand in the face of climate change (construction, electric utility, recycling, social services) already are among the highest risks for injuries. Employers in new “mitigation” sectors such as renewable energy construction and conservation have not adequately characterized their hazards and protected their workers.
  6. Workers may face increased H&S risks due to shifts in budgets to pay for the consequences of extreme weather related disasters, especially public sector workers but the private sector will also face financial challenges.
  7. Injury, illness, and fatality outcomes may not be recorded in the current already dysfunction systems for H&S surveillance and the absence of workers in population health surveillance systems.
  8. Many indoor workers do not have air conditioning and those who do work in climate controlled indoor environments will face risks as HVAC systems designed for former conditions fail to meet the demands of increase heat, humidity, and/or dryness, and extreme precipitation events may lead to mold and other microbial contamination in buildings.
  9. Service workers will face many new hazards as they face these changed conditions at work and serve clients who are suffering from their exposures to these conditions; as we have already seen for workers in healthcare, education, retail, entertainment and hospitality, social services, emergency response, criminal justice, and child and home care services.

In order to assist potential presenters in integrating climate change into their abstract proposals, we provide here some examples:

  1. A presentation about home care workers could end with a slide that presents 4 ways in which the discussed problems or solutions would be affected by climate change conditions, such as possible heat stress for patients in their home or disruptions in transportation for access to food or care services.
  2. A presentation about surveillance or workers compensation systems could end with a slide that presents ways that these systems may fail to capture problems created for workers as a result of changed climatic conditions and consequences.
  3. Any industry-specific presentation could address ways existing hazards are exacerbated by climate change impacts.
  4. Presentations about worker H&S training could include a slide about curriculum modifications that will be needed to cover the new risks workers will face due to climate change.
  5. Presentations about efforts for new policies or legal protections could also include recommendations that incorporate specific requirements to protect workers from the new risks caused by climate change.
  6. Presentations about specific worker-populations, such as low-wage, informal, temp, women, teens, immigrants, elderly, could add several points about how climate change conditions will add to the occupational health and safety protection needs of these groups.

Calling upon ourselves to engage in an exercise of imagination and exploration will help us all see what we need to do to protect workers from these hazards in the next century.


Program Planner Contact Information:

Amber Mitchell, DrPH, MPH, CPH
International Safety Center
1098 Oakpoint Circle
Apopka, FL 32712
Phone: 713-816-0013

Natalie Schwatka, PhD
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health & Center for Health, Work and Environment
Colorado School of Public Health
13001 e. 17th pl, 3r
Mail stop B119 HSC
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone: 303-724-4607

Alfreda Holloway-Beth, PhD, MS
Health of Studies
Chicago State University
9501 South King Dr
DH 120B
Chicago, IL 60628
Phone: 7739953846

Mark D. Catlin, BS BA
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
1800 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 730-7290