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The cliche "it's a jungle out there" may never have been more true, as safety experts identify an increasing number of workplace hazards that threaten to cut short careers or even lives.
Nor are the hazards limited to blue-collar workers, as the incidence of sick building syndrome and repetitive stress injuries continue to increase among white-collar workers.
Roger Cook, executive director of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety, says many working conditions today are nothing more than assaults on the body.
The organization holds safety workshops, conferences and a series of courses for more than 80 labor union locals. He says that every industry or job has hazards, that exposure is not limited to those in heavy industry or those who work with hazardous materials.
"The nurses' local has concerns from lifting problems to exposure to ethylene oxide (a gas used for sterilizing some equipment), and anesthetic gases are also hazardous," Cook says. "There also are airborne or blood-borne pathogens, including AIDS, TB and hepatitis B. …