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Vol. LXV, No. 20
September 27, 2013
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Safety & Wellness
Staff Get Moving, Learn Healthy Habits at Expo in Natcher

ORWH’s Angela Bates (l), a co-chair of the Expo, generates electricity on a stationary bike.

ORWH’s Angela Bates (l), a co-chair of the Expo, generates electricity on a stationary bike.

Some came to tango. Others got a lesson in self-defense. Some came to Zumba, while others tested their fitness levels.

At the 2nd annual Safety, Health and Wellness Expo, held at Natcher Bldg. on Aug. 28, participants danced, worked out, got health screenings, watched martial arts demonstrations and interacted with dozens of safety and wellness experts.

The Office of Research Services partnered with numerous institutes and centers and out side agencies to host this employee appreciation event. The goal is to help build a culture in which safety and health become a round-the-clock mindset.

“Off-the-job health and safety is as important as, and overlaps with, an on-the-job health and safety focus,” said Larry Johnson, chief of the Community Health Branch, ORS. “[We want staff to] understand that maintaining or improving good health, physical fitness, nutrition and safety practices will prevent or reduce injuries and illnesses.”

Staying safe at work and at home involves a bit of knowledge and preparation. Safety education stations lined the Natcher hallway with tips on lab safety, from wearing protective gear to proper chemical storage and protection from hazards such as fire and radiation. The Department of Labor’s OSHA displayed pictograms designed to alert about toxicity dangers. Other helpful information touched on CPR basics, ergonomics and pedestrian safety.

Ana Marie Jenkins gets NIH’ers moving with her step aerobics and Zumba classes. Massage therapists from the Sang Chiropractic Center work out the kinks on sore muscles.
Ana Marie Jenkins gets NIH’ers moving with her step aerobics and Zumba classes. Massage therapists from the Sang Chiropractic Center work out the kinks on sore muscles.

Judith Healy, an industrial hygienist at the Defense Intelligence Agency, talked with NIH’ers about workplace safety. “Have a plan,” she advised. “All equipment has a procedure so you need to know what protective equipment you need before operating it. Do a hazard analysis to prevent injury and don’t take shortcuts, because that’s how people get hurt.”

Members of the R&W Judo Club demonstrate this Japanese martial art in the auditorium.

Members of the R&W Judo Club demonstrate this Japanese martial art in the auditorium.

It’s also important for supervisors to oversee worker safety. “Supervisors must brief and train employees in advance so a new procedure doesn’t start without the employee knowing the rules and hazards,” said Healy. “Supervisors must lead by example.”

Meanwhile, the downstairs level of Natcher was transformed into a health fair. In the auditorium, some staff tried out country line dancing and tango dancing; some watched judo and other martial arts demonstrations. Conference rooms were converted into exercise classrooms offering yoga, Zumba, kickboxing and spinning. In one room, health screenings checked employees’ blood pressure, vision, skin and bone density. Farther down the hall, NIH’ers lined up to receive chair massages.

In another room, fitness assessments tested body mass index, strength and flexibility. Robert Geter, personal trainer and manager of the Rockledge Fitness Center, conducted the assessments and underscored the importance of exercise. He said NIH fitness center users enjoy the convenience of classes so close by. “They come down for the class, freshen up, then get back to work.” To maximize healthy results, he advocated a combination of aerobics, strength training and eating right.

Staff sampled healthy foods, from grilled fruit kebabs to apple farro salad with chicken. These and other fast, healthy recipes are posted at www.ors.od.nih.gov/pes/dats/wellness/Documents/superfoods%20recipes.pdf.

Rebecca Coa, coordinator of the Fit+ Program, and Ahmed Gadallah, CrossFit Mutation coach, staff an info table.

Rebecca Coa, coordinator of the Fit+ Program, and Ahmed Gadallah, CrossFit Mutation coach, staff an info table.

Photos: Bill Branson

Several ICs offered wellness tips. NEI staff advocated the importance of dilated eye exams. The results alert us to early stages of common eye diseases for which there often are no warning signs. NIDCD offered colorful fact sheets to educate about protecting our ears from excessive and prolonged loud noise.

“Get engaged and lead by being a positive example,” said Johnson. “Be healthy, safe and happy and others will react in the same manner.”


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