Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Less than half of essential workers willing to report to work during a serious pandemic

30.09.2010
12 percent of workers would choose to quit or retire rather than report for work

Although first responders willingly put themselves in harm's way during disasters, new research indicates that they may not be as willing— if the disaster is a potentially lethal pandemic.

In a recent study, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that more than 50% of the first responders and other essential workers they surveyed might be absent from work during a serious pandemic, even if they were healthy.

The study, reported online in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, involved over 1100 workers recruited from six essential workgroups, all located in the New York metropolitan area. The workgroups included hospital employees, police and fire department personnel, emergency medical services workers, public health workers, and correctional facility officers.

The researchers found that while 80% of the workers would be able (i.e., available) to report to duty, only 65% were willing. Taken together, less than 50% of these key workers were both willing and able to report to duty. According to the lead author, Dr. Robyn Gershon, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and Associate Dean for Research Resources at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and Faculty Affiliate at Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, "these data indicate that non-illness related shortfalls among essential workers could be substantial."

In anonymous surveys, workers reported on their willingness to work during a serious pandemic; the percent willing ranged from a high of 74% (public health workers) to a low of 56% (correctional workers). The researchers found that motivation to work during a serious pandemic was associated with workplace safety measures and trust in the employer's ability to protect workers from harm. Workers were also more willing to report to duty if their employer provided them with respirators and pandemic vaccine and had an established pandemic plan. Willingness was also tied to past experience; essential workers who had responded to a previous disaster were significantly more willing to report during a pandemic.

The researchers found that workers' ability or availability to work during a serious pandemic was closely linked to their personal obligations. Referred to as "dilemmas of loyalty," otherwise healthy essential workers might stay at home to care for sick family members or their children—if schools are closed. Organizational policies and programs that help workers meet their personal obligations will also increase workers' ability to work. "Even something as simple as ensuring that workers can communicate with their families while they are on duty, can have a big impact on both ability and willingness," reports Dr. Gershon.

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made workplace pandemic planning and training materials readily available, the Columbia study did not find much evidence of preparedness. Only a small proportion of the workers (9%) were aware of their organization's pandemic plans, and only 15% had ever received pandemic influenza training at work. As Dr. Gershon notes, "the study findings suggest that these preparedness steps are important in building worker trust. Workers who trust that their employers can protect them during a communicable disease outbreak will be significantly more likely to come to work and perform their jobs– jobs that are vital to the safety, security and well-being of the entire community."

To help ensure adequate staffing levels, employers should focus preparedness efforts on worker protection and the development of policies that facilitate the attendance of healthy workers. The authors suggest a number of relatively straightforward strategies that employers can take to support employees' response during pandemic outbreaks. These include:

Prepare a plan to quickly and easily vaccinate essential workers and their families, so that when a vaccine is available it can be readily distributed.

Discuss respiratory protection needs with public health officials. They can provide guidance on the need, feasibility, and use of these safety devices.

Guidance on planning is available from CDC-funded Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Centers, such as the one at Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922 as one of the first three public health academies in the nation, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,000 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renown research centers including the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and the Center for Infection and Immunity.

Stephanie Berger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>