Workplace Violence

MassCOSH guide aids clinicians in preventing workplace injuries and illnesses

12.15.2005

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
Novemebr/December 2005 Edition

The MNA is happy to help the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health spread the word about the following guide for primary care providers. MassCOSH, and the many organizations that are its members and associates, do valuable work related to protecting workers in all industrial and professional sectors, including health care and education. We thank them for their hard work and their accomplishments. Regardless of who is providing your care following a work-related injury or illness, suggesting that they have a copy of this guide available for reference would be a benefit to you and to other patients.

If you are hurt on the job due to an exposure to an environmental hazard, your primary care provider may not recognize this as the source of your problem. MassCOSH and the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility want to change that.

Together, the two organizations recently unveiled a new guide that aims to help community health providers recognize symptoms and serve patients who are suffering from work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Many of our patients come to the health center each day with job-related illnesses and injuries,” said Davida Andelman, director of community health. “This guide will be a very helpful tool for our providers, so our patients not only get appropriate treatment but also the resources they need so they don’t return to the same unsafe working conditions.”

The guide, entitled Addressing Work-related Injuries and Illnesses: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, offers clinicians practical advice for raising awareness of common occupational and environmental hazards. It can also assist providers in referring patients to sources of support for addressing underlying causes of injury and disease.

Recognizing that occupational and environmental exposures and conditions may affect health can help primary care physicians prevent the onset and progression of illness and potential disability in their patients, as well as help protect others in the same workplace or environment. Patients may be exposed to hazardous materials in the workplace, school, home, or other settings (e.g., while traveling or during recreational activities). An occupational/environmental history and assessment should consider each of these. In many cases significant exposures may occur without symptoms or recognition of the hazard. As in most clinical matters, the more a physician knows about the patient’s life experience, the easier it is to identify relevant hazardous exposures.

Included in the guide are:

  • A sample questionnaire regarding occupational and environmental health history
  • A series of occupational profiles for occupations common among low-wage or immigrant workers
  • A series of health effects profiles for potentially work-related health problems commonly seen in the primary care setting
  • Fact sheets including information on workers compensation, prevention tools and employer interactions, mandatory reporting requirements, and other resources
  • Patient handouts on workers compensation, workers rights and more

To obtain a copy of the guide, call Manuel Mariano at 617.825.7233, x3 or Marcy Goldstein-Gelb at 617.825.7233, x15.