Safe Workplaces

Real-life experience, without the risk

The UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) will soon incorporate virtual reality (VR) into our worker health and safety training programs—a kind of digital “apprenticeship” that could save real lives on the job.

Starting next year, DEOHS will pilot-test VR simulation in some training courses for construction workers and others on how to work safely in confined spaces—think construction pits, tunnels and storage containers.

Co-piloting a program to launch careers

[Reprinted with permission from the fall 2018 edition of Northwest Public Health magazine.]

Jenna Buchanan is on a mission to improve the culture of safety at Boeing. She seeks to learn lessons not only from accidents but also from close calls.

Buchanan is a 2007 graduate of the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) in the School of Public Health. She recalls how a reporting system and quick action at Boeing helped to protect an aircraft mechanic from a potentially fatal fall.

Nothing about us without us

There is a hidden cost to the fresh fruits and vegetables you buy at your local market.

The estimated 2.5 million US farmworkers who harvest that produce are among America’s most vulnerable workers. They face environmental hazards on the job and in their housing and limited access to health care. Too often, they live on the margins of society without a voice to shape decision-making and policies that could improve their lives.

A champion for worker safety

Stanley Freeman joined the University of Washington in 1977 for what was supposed to be a one-year stint to launch an industrial safety program. That short-term job turned into a 20-year career as he discovered his passion for teaching.

Freeman, senior lecturer emeritus in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), died April 5 shortly after his 90th birthday. His memorial service will be held Thursday, Aug. 2.

Stay heat safe

What’s the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

What’s the "half-half" rule for staying hydrated?

Which two common medical conditions put you at greater risk for heat illness?

With our Pacific Northwest summer now in full sizzle, people who work outdoors should take extra precautions to keep themselves safe in the heat.

Seeing is believing

Picture-perfect produce at your local market is the surest sign of summer in the Pacific Northwest. 
Those berries, cherries and other fruits and vegetables arrive in stores Instagram-ready thanks in part to farm laborers who apply pesticides to agricultural crops throughout the year.

Risky business

Eating salmon may be good for you, but catching them for a living could be hazardous to your health.

Commercial salmon fishermen in Alaska suffer from hearing loss at more than five times the national rate and also face higher rates of other serious health problems, according to a new study led by a researcher in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) and others from the School of Public Health.

Making workplaces safer through science

Vanessa Vargas showed up for her first day at her new job with her heart pounding so loud it nearly drowned out the sound of construction equipment at the Seattle building site where she had been hired as a carpenter apprentice.

Vargas was the youngest person on the work site, the least experienced—and the only woman.

“My adrenaline’s going, and I’m just trying to be careful of every move I make so I look like I know what I’m doing,” Vargas recalled. “You don’t want to make any mistakes.”

Safe Workplaces

Promoting on-the-job safety and health

We bring extensive research expertise to our work on occupational health, and we put that expertise into practice through an array of services we offer to improve workplace safety and health.