Recent DrPH Alumna Publishes Review of Heat-Related Worker Deaths

A review of heat-related worker deaths, compiled by Milken Institute School of Public Health DrPH alumna Diane Gubernot, as part of her dissertation, was published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.  Soon after the paper was published, an article about it appeared in the Bloomberg BNA Occupational Health & Safety Reporter, a trade publication. 

The newly published paper, "Characterizing Occupational Heat-Related Mortality in the United States, 2000-2010: An Analysis using the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Database," is the second of three papers that comprise Gubernot’s recently completed dissertation. Environmental and Occupational Health Emeritus Professor Kathy Hunting and Professor David Michaels (currently on leave) were co-authors, along with a researcher from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The paper used Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2000 through 2010 to compile what the authors believe to be the first-ever review of work-related deaths attributed to heat.  The researchers found the highest fatality rates among agricultural and construction workers.  The rate for agricultural workers, a category that includes fishing and hunting, was 3.06 deaths annually for every 1 million workers, according to their calculations.  The construction industry rate was 1.13.

Gubernot told Bloomberg BNA that the 359 reported deaths should be considered a minimum because some deaths, such as those that took place hours after employees left their jobs, may not have been attributed to conditions at work.

Gubernot has worked for the Food and Drug Administration for almost 25 years.  Since last October, she has been the Team Lead for the Post Response Team of FDA’S CORE (Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation) Network.  When the investigation and response to a foodborne illness outbreak is complete, her team is responsible for collaborating with internal and external FDA partners on recommended activities for prevention controls/food safety, research, education/outreach, and process improvement.

Photo credit:  National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health