Dog Bites and Anthrax Exposure: All Part of the Job

Some occupations come with unexpected hazards

By Dana Wilkie May 27, 2016
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  • Across the country, workers of all types face occupational risks you may have never considered.

  • Postal carriers suffer muscle injuries from all that walking, and develop shoulder problems after years of carrying heavy bags of mail.

  • National Football League players are at greater risk than the general population for high blood pressure, while retired players are more prone to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea, as well as elevated blood pressure, insulin and cholesterol levels.

  • Actors should be wary of wayward props, sets and malfunctioning costumes. Actress Hilary Swank needed stitches after co-star Gerard Butler's suspender snapped and hit her in the face.

  • Yard workers beware: tending to rose bushes can lead to lung problems, infections of the nervous system and chronic skin infections from a fungus that can grow on roses.

  • Research shows truck drivers were found to be affected by significant issues that can impact mental health, such as loneliness, depression, chronic sleep disturbances, anxiety and other emotional problems.

  • Scalpel cuts and blood-transmitted diseases are occupational hazards for a surgeon. So are spinal misalignment and disc degeneration, which surgeons can develop after standing hunched over operating tables for hours on end.

  • People who play the violin or viola for a living can suffer from "Fiddler’s neck," which is characterized by cysts, inflammation and scarring on the neck where the instrument rests.

  • Nuns are more likely to develop breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. The theory is that because of their vocation, they have never experienced pregnancy and have never breastfed, factors which may lower a woman's risk of certain kinds of cancers.

  • Research suggests a significant minority of journalists are at risk of developing long-term psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse after witnessing traumatic events.

  • Workers who sort wool after it's been sheared from sheep may inhale anthrax spores from sheep hides, which happens because the creatures ingest Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax-causing bacteria that occurs naturally in soil.

  • As for postal carriers? At least 6,549 of them were attacked by dogs in 2015, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal carriers weather rain and snow, suffer muscle injuries from all that walking, and develop shoulder problems after years of carrying heavy bags of mail.

Not only that, 6,549 of them were attacked by dogs in 2015, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Across the country, workers of all types face occupational risks you may have never considered.

For instance, most people recognize that professional football is a dangerous sport. But players face more than the risks on the field. National Football League players are at greater risk than the general population for high blood pressure, while retired players are more prone to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea, as well as elevated blood pressure, insulin and cholesterol levels. Retired linemen have been shown to have higher mortality rates than the general public.

Sure, movie actors who perform their own stunts risk hurting themselves. But did you know that malfunctioning costumes can also inflict injury? When actress Hilary Swank was filming the romantic comedy “P.S. I Love You,” co-star Gerard Butler’s suspender snapped and hit her in the face. She needed three stitches on her forehead.

Yard work—whether it’s mowing lawns or pruning hedges—certainly has its hazards. Few people, however, realize that tending to rose bushes can lead to lung problems, infections of the nervous system and chronic skin infections from a fungus that can grow on roses.

Bad weather and irresponsible motorists can put the career truck driver in danger of having an auto accident. But truck drivers are in danger of something else, too: mental illness. According to July 2012 research published by the National Institutes of Health, truckers were found to be affected by significant issues that can impact mental health, such as loneliness (27.9 percent), depression (26.9 percent), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6 percent), anxiety (14.5 percent) and other emotional problems (13 percent)—all because of high occupational stress, low access to and use of health care, and limited social support.

Scalpel cuts and blood-transmitted diseases are occupational hazards for a surgeon. So are spinal misalignment and disc degeneration, which surgeons can develop after standing hunched over operating tables for hours on end.

People who play the violin or viola for a living can suffer from “Fiddler’s neck”—which is characterized by cysts, inflammation and scarring on the neck where the instrument rests.

Workers who sort wool after it’s been sheared from sheep may inhale anthrax spores from sheep hides, which happens because the creatures ingest Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax-causing bacteria that occurs naturally in soil.

Surprisingly, it has been found that nuns are more likely than other women to develop breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. The theory behind this is that because of their vocation, they have never experienced pregnancy and have never breastfed, factors which may lower a woman’s risk of certain kinds of cancers.

The American Psychiatric Association classifies journalists as “first responders” who, like police officers and firefighters, often witness traumatic events. The association says that research suggests a significant minority of journalists are at risk of developing long-term psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse.

As for postal carriers? The dog attacks that occurred in 2015 “ran the gamut as it relates to severity,” said Theresa Doherty, a Postal Service spokeswoman.

“Nearly half of the claims did not require medical care, days away from work or restricted duty,” she said. “The other half ranged from simple outpatient care to longer-term care and extended periods of disability. During the calendar year we did not have any fatalities or amputations from dog attacks; however, there were many hospitalizations.”

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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