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Early Suicide Warnings, Breastfeeding at Work and Environmental Advocacy: What We’re Reading This Week

July 15, 2022
A look at some workplace safety-related topics in the headlines.

Summer is in full swing. For some, that may mean cannonballing in the local watering hole, feasting on watermelon or camping under the stars. But for many millions of Americans, it means working in hot and potentially dangerous conditions.

On July 10, more than a dozen record high temperatures were recorded in the state of Texas, with the mercury rising several digits higher for the heat index. OSHA has revised its Heat Illness Prevention campaign webpage with resources on the dangers of working in the heat and how to keep workers safe. Now’s a good time to revisit and offer training to workers on how to spot the signs of heat stress. It’s also a good time to order any PPE, fans, tents, sunscreen and anything else to help keep workers cool and safe in this summer sun.

And, if you’re looking to keep some little ones entertained during these summer months, we suggest buying some popsicle moldsor wooden spoons and Dixie cups—and making your own popsicles. Here are some wild and wacky ideas from Country Living and Delish. (Note: There are even some alcoholic versions to try after you tuck the kiddos into bed.)

Until next time, be safe, healthy and cool! 

Early Suicide Warnings

Now, more than ever, people are struggling with their mental health. Unfortunately, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Starting July 16, states are rolling out a new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 988. It’s another way to connect with people in crisis. There isn’t always a long window between when someone is considering suicide and making an attempt. However, there are signs we can learn to look out for to try an connect someone who is struggling with resources.

This article from CNN details some common behavioral, verbal and emotional signs and risk factors to watch out for in family, friends, co-workers and even yourself.

The article also offers guidance on what to do. The most important point: "You're not going to cause someone to be suicidal by asking directly about suicide," said Justin Baker, clinical director of The Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative for Veterans at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "The worst they're going to say is 'no' and not get offended. If they are, still ask them. I'd rather have someone offended at me than dead."

Baker suggests talking to someone using a narrative, person-centered approach, which could mean asking open-ended question along the lines of, "Hey, I've noticed life's gotten overwhelming these past couple days. Do you want to tell me about it?" While the person talks, you can listen and offer to help (sans advice). However, if the person seems more at risk or is in the process of attempting suicide, seek medical care or call 911.

We hope this informative article can help you be more prepared in the event you need to intervene.

Read more here

Breastfeeding While Working

Being a mom is tough. Lately, being a mom of young children has been even more difficult. There is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a national formula shortage, a childcare crisis, new recommendation from American Academy of Pediatrics to breastfeed for two years and no paid family leave.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. senate failed to advance the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, which would have closed a current loophole that and expanded workplace pumping protections for around 9 million women of childbearing age.

Author Cari Nazeer tackles the issue comprehensively and in great detail. Two facts we found astounding are that a quarter of women who give birth in the U.S. are back at their jobs within two weeks, and milk supply is typically established over the first several weeks after birth. Which is why experts often advise breastfeeding parents to pump roughly every three hours in the early months to maintain their supply.

Breastfeeding is a cumbersome process, and certain steps must be followed for sanitation and health purposes, such as refrigerating the milk. Unfortunately, sometimes employees object to storing milk in the office fridge, and employers don’t do enough to protect their breastfeeding employees—even though there are legal obligations to do so.

“A lot of folks are aware of the legal requirements, but they feel like they’re sticking their necks out to even ask for what they’re legally entitled to.” Says Jessica Lee, a senior staff attorney at the University of California’s Center for WorkLife Law to Charter.

Even without federal requirements, employers can take action to improve protections and conditions for breastfeeding parents at the workplace. They can create new policies within existing framework such as employee handbooks. They can develop a paid leave program. They can offer trainings on how to support breastfeeding colleagues and tackle harassment and other discrimination. Until employers or the government take action, breastfeeding will remain a workplace issue for up to half the workforce.

Read more here

Environmental Advocacy

On July 14, environmental advocates gathered virtually to celebrate the Second Annual Green Amendment Day to illuminate how environmental legislation can help frontline communities address toxic pollution, climate injustice, environmental racism and water pollution. The goal is to secure constitutional protection for the inalienable rights of all people to pure water, clean air, a stable climate and healthy environments.

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and Founder of Green Amendments for The Generations, is advocating for states to be the trustee of their natural resources for all residents, invoking a constitutional obligation to uphold environmental rights while holding governmental leaders accountable for acts of environmental and climate injustice committed in their state.

As of this month, three states have passed Green Amendments into law, 12 states advancing Green Amendment efforts and growing interest from a handful of additional states.

The advocacy is timelier than ever, as the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs Environmental Protection Agency that the federal agency exceeded its authority to regulate carbon emissions. The decision will curb President Biden’s efforts to tackle climate change.

Actions taken in the coming years are crucial in the fight to cool down a warming planet before exceeding limits set by The Paris Agreement. Experts say if the climate warms above the limit set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, there will be widespread and irreversible harm to the planet and its inhabitants.

More information, including a recap of National Green Amendment Day, can be found here

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