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Vol. LXVI, No. 20
September 26, 2014
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A Healthier You
NIH’ers Get a Workout, Useful Advice During Safety, Health and Wellness Day

On the front page...

Exercise was a theme for the Aug. 27 event.
Exercise was a theme for the Aug. 27 event.

Life’s a series of choices. We can choose to adopt healthier habits and protect ourselves from common hazards. Along the way, it never hurts to learn some tips that might steer us on a healthier, safer path.

Improving employee health and safety both on and off the job was at the heart of the 3rd annual Safety, Health and Wellness Day held Aug. 27 in Natcher Bldg. NIH staff enjoyed a range of activities organized by the institutes and centers and dozens of outside vendors and even learned a few things.

Continued...

Outside, on the lawn, some stretched out for a yoga class while others learned safety tips for bicycling on busy roads. Inside, staff sweated to Zumba, kickboxing and other fitness classes; some took fitness tests and got pointers on how to maintain or improve their fitness levels. Some lucky folks got chair massages offered by a local chiropractic clinic.

Attendees learn about posture and tips and tools for maintaining a healthy back. Attendees learn about posture and tips and tools for maintaining a healthy back.
Attendees learn about posture and tips and tools for maintaining a healthy back.

“The most important thing you should take away from [today] is that the services and information provided are readily available for NIH employees,” said Chris Gaines, program manager of wellness and retail services at the Office of Research Services’ Division of Amenities and Transportation Services. “There is a wide range of health and wellness activities at NIH that are right at your fingertips for you to take advantage of to promote better health and wellness outcomes.”

Members of the NIH Judo Club offer a demonstration of their discipline.

Members of the NIH Judo Club offer a demonstration of their discipline.

Ever consider getting CPR-certified? NIH offers training free for employees. Just gather 10 colleagues. An instructor from ORS’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety will conduct CPR/AED training for the group right at your office. DOHS offers training for health care providers and lay responders. The session takes a couple of hours, after which you’ll be certified for 2 years. If interested, visit www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/HealthAndSafety/aed.

Advice on safety was not limited to the workplace. “A lot of information we have, you can use at home, such as ladder safety, electrical safety, identifying mold,” said Brett Beall, a compliance assistance specialist with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He said OSHA recently launched a smartphone app that calculates the heat index to help protect people working outside on hot days. “Occupational safety can apply to everyday life. We’re trying to make a safety culture,” he said.

Did you know that medicine can look and taste like candy, while household cleaners or other chemicals can look like juice or other beverages? Help prevent accidental poisoning by keeping items in original packaging, reading labels and keeping medicines out of children’s reach.

Eva Chen (l), senior consultant at the NIH Employee Assistance Program, welcomes visitors to her table.

Eva Chen (l), senior consultant at the NIH Employee Assistance Program, welcomes visitors to her table.

Photos: Ernie Branson

NIH’s Environmental Management System staff shared information about proper disposal of chemical waste. Many unused chemicals can be recycled or used for energy. Labs purchase chemicals by the case, even if the lab just needs a pint, said NIH industrial chemist Crispin Hernandez. He facilitates chemical and reagent exchange for the Free Stuff program (https://stuff.nih.gov), where you can post and exchange items, including unopened chemicals. Making environmentally friendly choices has paid off—Hernandez said his chemical surplus and solvent recovery program has saved NIH about $100,000 from last April to December, and the program is growing.

Staff also heard reminders about personal safety. “The biggest thing is to be aware of your surroundings,” said Cpl. John Coe, a 10-year veteran of the NIH Police. “We live in an electronic age with headphones, texting…It’s a bad combination when someone is walking and another person is driving [and either or both people are distracted]. Recognize what’s around you.” That goes for any suspected problem. “Some people are unwilling to call the police when they see suspicious behavior,” Coe said. “If you see a suspicious person, package or an unusual situation, don’t hesitate to call NIH Police.”

An immersive virtual environment headset was available for testing.

An immersive virtual environment headset was available for testing.

Throughout the day, fitness activities kept staff on their toes while others watched dance and martial arts demonstrations in the auditorium. An instructor with NIH’s Judo Club likened judo to mental chess in that you need to know your opponent. While some train for competition, he said, most participate for the exercise and the tradition.

“Increased exercise, physical activity and a healthier diet can contribute to improved overall health,” said Gaines. “The most important thing is to try and adopt these healthy activities into your daily routine.”

The event was sponsored by ORS, Office of Research Facilities, NIH occupational safety and health committee, IC safety and health chairpersons committee, laboratory sustainability group and NHGRI.

Learn more about employee services—clubs and organizations, fitness and more—through the R&W: www.fedesp.com/nih/.


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