Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Authors: You really can be sick of work

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lots of people grumble about their jobs.

        Two Loveland writers want workers to know that their jobs may be making them sick. Writer John Kachuba and his wife Mary A. Newman, an industrial hygienist, have written Why Is This Job Killing Me? (Dell Health; $6.50) to help workers identify the hazards that can cause illness and death at work.

        “We're not trying to be sensationalist,” says Mr. Kachuba. “The title is catchy, but we're just trying to create awareness. No matter what type of job you have, everybody has the potential to have their life adversely affected by the workplace. The goal is to identify what's out there before it does some serious harm.”

        According to the authors, about 56,000 people are killed on the job each year and many more are disabled. More than half a million develop occupational diseases.

        Among the most common work-related ailments are breathing problems and lung disease, physical injury and trauma, workplace violence, cancer (some of which develops slowly over decades), neurological disorders, reproductive problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems and conditions linked to exposure to toxic chemicals, poor-quality indoor air, bad ergonomics, chronic stress and the like.

        They wrote to the book so average workers — those without medical or scientific backgrounds — could have access to information that's available about dangerous and sickly conditions at work.

        “There are a lot of medical textbooks and science books written for the professional industrial hygienists, but there's really no place to go for the average person to get information on safety and health,” Mr. Kachuba says.

        Many people who work in dangerous conditions are afraid to speak up for fear of losing a job, Ms. Newman acknowledges. But some problems can be handled by talking to supervisors or managers.

        Sometimes, people risk being labeled “complainers” if they insist on their employer acknowledging and improving known health risks or stressful environments, she says.

        Some solutions are easy, she says. One example: A company used tape for a project when they found that the glue workers were using contained hazardous materials.

        They also encourage people to make their personal physicians aware of work-related conditions, things like exposure to lead, chemicals, airborne particles and the like.

        “By creating awareness, you can prevent things before they get worse,” she says. “If you're aware of early signs, of if you're aware that some things can cause problems, you can take the proper precautions.

        “No workplace can be perfect,” Ms. Newman says, “but some things can be very easily corrected. We'd like to create the awareness so people can take initial steps to make things better.”

        • What: John Kachuba and Mary A. Newman sign their book Why Is This Job Killing Me? (Dell Health; $6.50)

        • When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday during Local Authors Night at Borders Books & Music, 4530 Eastgate Blvd., Eastgate (943-0068), and 7 p.m. Nov. 24 at Borders in Northgate, 9501 Colerain Ave. (245-9898).


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