Why Is This Job Killing Me?; Protect Yourself from the 10 Leading Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

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Work Smarter, Work Healthier!

What you don't know about your workplace could kill you. What you learn in this book could save your life.

  • Recognize the silent ...
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Overview

Work Smarter, Work Healthier!

What you don't know about your workplace could kill you. What you learn in this book could save your life.

  • Recognize the silent killers
  • Create safer workplace environments
  • Improve your health and your job performance

Did you know that every nine minutes someone is killed by their job? In this groundbreaking book, two experts in the field of occupational safety tell you what's wrong at the workplace, who is at risk, and what you and your employer can do to create a safer working environment. Learn how to protect yourself from the top ten job-related illnesses and injuries—from respiratory disease to cancer, from reproductive disorders to musculoskeletal injuries and trauma. And discover:

  • four steps to risk assessment in the workplace
  • the easiest method of reducing exposure to toxic substances
  • how to recognize "sick building syndrome" and what to do about it
  • how to prevent back injuries, sprains, strains, inflammations, and dislocations

It's all here in the book that offers real solutions for real problems that affect you on—and off—the job. You'll find practical—and legal—know-how, suggestions for employers, a complete list of occupational health resources with addresses and Web sites, and more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440234869
  • Publisher: Dell Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/13/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.33 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

The husband and wife team of John Kachuba and Mary Newman together have over twenty-five years of combined professional experience in the field of occupational safety and health. Together they run Healthcare Environments, Inc., an international safety and health consulting company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Mary Newman received her doctorate in industrial hygiene. Before founding Healthcare Environments, Inc., she was a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service station with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She is the author of numerous NIOSH documents.

John Kachuba has worked in the health care industry for over fifteen years. He is a freelance writer and has written for The Health Care Supervisor and the Journal of Healthcare Protection Management, among others.

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Read an Excerpt

When I was a boy, my uncle told me about the canary. On a tour of the abandoned Pennsylvania coal mine in which he had spent most of his working life, he told me that when the canary stopped singing it was time to get out of the mine.

Anyone who has ever owned a canary knows that the little birds are nonstop singers. Coal miners used to take a canary with them down into the mines. If dangerously explosive gases were present in the mine, their fumes killed the bird and silenced his song. The miners were warned by the silence that their own lives were in danger.

Miners no longer use canaries. Modern technology has provided more sophisticated warning systems. Yet, accidents still occur. Carelessness, lack of training, physical exhaustion, cost-cutting, defective equipment, and improper work practices are some of the factors that contribute to occupational injuries and illnesses in mines and many other industries. Millions of Americans suffer from job-related illnesses or accidents.

I know what you're thinking. "What has this got to do with me? I don't even know a miner."

There are many high-risk jobs that can cause injuries and death besides mining. Logging, fishing, construction, farming, and fire fighting are just a few. But you don't have to be employed in high-risk jobs to experience occupational accidents and diseases.

Secretaries, computer operators, writers, musicians, and assembly line workers may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome--a painful disorder of the wrist caused by repetitive motions and correctable only through surgery. Teachers, office workers, and store clerks are sometimes inflicted with headaches, allergies, and asthma caused by poorindoor air quality. Painters and factory workers may suffer from headaches or depression as a result of their use of solvents, cleaners, and degreasers. Some of these materials may also cause cancer. Doctors, nurses, aides, and other hospital workers are daily at risk of contracting hepatitis, AIDS, and other infectious diseases. Sales and customer service workers strain their eyes watching video display terminals all day. Even salesmen, talking on cellular car phones, may be at some risk of developing cancer of the brain caused by electromagnetic radiation. The same may be true for police officers using handheld radar detectors.

In short, anyone who works for a living is risking his good health, perhaps his life, because of job-related illnesses and injuries. There is no reason why millions of Americans each year should become ill or injured on the job. The risk to our health and well-being, caused by an unsafe workplace, is something we have come to take for granted, believing that the conditions cannot change, that's just the way it is.

We have been lulled by our own ignorance and the interests of corporate profitability into a sense of false security about the workplace. We believe it is handguns, crime in the streets, auto accidents, high-cholesterol diets that will do us in, not our jobs.

The canaries would sing the truth. They would tell us that we have to take responsibility for the 56,000 Americans who will die this year from job-related accidents or illnesses. Many more will be injured, maimed, or left with the seed of a fatal disease growing within them.

Where are the canaries? Who will warn us?

--John B. Kachuba


The Invisible Environment

Every nine minutes, someone is killed by their job.

A little quick math and that number translates into 56,000 deaths each year, almost as many deaths in one year as the number of American fatalities in Vietnam throughout the war's duration. In 1994, employers reported 6.3 million disabling work injuries and 515,000 cases of occupational disease.

Americans today are very health conscious. We try to improve our health by dieting and exercise, by giving up tobacco and alcohol, and by reducing our cholesterol levels and blood pressure, but we pay little attention to substances and activities at our jobs that can kill us outright or deliver us a slow, lingering death. Worst of all, we do not even recognize these silent killers.

We know how poorly or well we treat our bodies and we understand the dangers to our health caused by pollution and the destruction of our natural environment. We read about the threat to virgin forests and the spotted owl, wetlands and manatees, and we do what we can to help. We donate money or join the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, or any one of hundreds of organizations dedicated to saving our natural environment and natural resources. We mobilize in grassroots groups to stop local threats to the environment, such as unwanted toxic waste sites, oil pipelines, dams, and the desecration of wilderness areas. We do all these things because we understand that a poisoned environment will poison us. But we ignore our workplace environment.

Even those experts who should be warning us about workplace hazards remain dangerously ignorant of them. Environmentalists easily recognize hazards to plants and animals caused by soil erosion, air and water pollution, and deforestation. They blame industry for much of this damage yet they seem unable to include the workplace environment in a broader definition of "environment." They see industrial pollutants pouring into rivers, leaving fish belly-up, but they fail to see the many workers, exposed to these same pollutants on the job, who will die or suffer serious health consequences as a result of their exposures.

They do not see the thousands who will be stricken with respiratory diseases, cancer, neurological diseases, reproductive disorders, and a host of other ailments simply as a result of working. There is an interconnectedness between the natural and workplace environments that must be put into perspective. The interconnectedness lies in the fact that we cannot separate our lives neatly into one environment or the other. What we do at our jobs, the pollutants and destruction that we create through our work, will have a damaging impact upon the natural environment that boomerangs back to us in the form of serious health effects caused by poisoned air and water, pesticide-sprayed fruits and vegetables, depletion of the ozone layer, and a host of other ailments. Controls must remain in place to protect our natural environment from industrial damage, not only to protect our plant and animal life, but to protect our lives.

The disasters at Bhopal and Chernobyl, in which thousands died, left behind many more with serious health effects, and the surrounding countryside was contaminated, never to be used again. These serve as tragic examples of industrial destruction. They remind us that what goes wrong in our workplace environment can destroy the natural environment and surrounding communities as well. Occupational safety and health must become the concern of everyone.

But we must understand that the greatest risk to our health occurs every day, in the workplace. We do not need tragic, headline-making accidents in order to become a victim of an unsafe workplace. In most cases, toxins in the workplace are insidious, nibbling away at our health bit by bit. Frequently, we do not find out what is happening to us until it is too late. Sometimes we never find out at all.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2001

    Find Out About Workplace Hazards

    Mary Newman and John Kachuba have made the subject of workplace health and safety interesting and accessible in their book Why Is This Job Killing Me? They present ten categories of workplace dangers, each introduced with a story of a person who experiences an injury or illness. Twenty year-old Dennis wrenches his back believing he didn¿t need the back-support belts supplied by his employer. Karen has successive miscarriages due to chemical exposure. Fifty-six year old Mike dies of carbon monoxide poisoning working with machinery in a confined space. Shirley gradually suffers hearing loss, diminishing her job-effectiveness. Conditions increasing the risk of accidents, cancer, nervous system disorders, respiratory problems, and stress are all examined and supported with recent research. Occupational health and safety guidelines and regulations are cited. The effect of reading the book is an increased awareness of potential problems and a realization that each person can have an impact on the safety of his or her work environment. For employers, it serves the same purpose, with clarification of the lines of responsibility. The book is definitely not anti-employer or inflammatory in any way. It encourages employees to follow the proper chains within the workplace if a hazard is discovered, but also gives specific information on how to follow up if an employer does not respond. I like the level tone the authors take, noting that while some workplace hazards are a result of intentional rejection of known safe practices by unscrupulous employers, the vast majority of employers want a safe environment for their workers. The book ends with a chapter on how to get help with workplace issues. Each chapter has a list of references and a thorough index is found the back. Why Is This Book Killing Me? is appropriate for a wide range of readers, from those who want general information on workplace health issues to those interested in the specifics of health regulations and medical risks. It is fully grounded in science, yet compellingly readable.

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