Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Companies Like Walmart Are Fighting to Keep Workplace Injuries Secret

Today’s post was shared by Mother Jones and comes from www.motherjones.com

Andrew Francis Wallace/ZUMA

Nearly four years ago, while lifting pallets of blankets during an overnight stocking shift at Walmart, Barb Gertz began to notice a dull pain in her arms. She kept on lifting and stocking, but by the time her lunch break rolled around she could no longer raise her arms. Her doctor told her she had tendinitis in her biceps, and that it was most likely caused by her job. Walmart disagreed. The retailer contested Gertz’s workplace-injury claim—and won.

If Gertz had worked in a factory, she could have bolstered her case with evidence from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s national database of manufacturing workplace injuries. But no such database exists for retail workers like Gertz. A new regulation that OSHA is scheduled to finalize this year would change that. OSHA wants to create a public database of workplace injury and illness data from all industries, not just manufacturing. This would help workers, the government, researchers, and journalists identify companies with safety problems. But the trade groups that represent some of America’s biggest chains—including Walmart, Target, and McDonald’s—are fighting back hard.

The National Retail Federation—a group that represents Walmart, McDonald’s, and The Container Store—spent $2.4 million lobbying on this measure and other issues between January and September of last year. In a letter to OSHA last March, the group complained that the rule would require…

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Nearly all respirable coal dust samplings comply with new mine dust rule

End Black Lung Now

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.dol.gov

News Release

Dust levels in underground coal mines continue to trend downward with new low in 2014

ARLINGTON, Va.Chester Fike was just in his 30s when he was diagnosed with black lung. As the disease progressed, the West Virginia coal miner was eventually so incapacitated that a simple walk with his family was impossible. In the summer of 2012, four months after a double lung transplant raised hopes for a second chance, Fike lost his fight for life at 60.

In an effort to spare others the same fate, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a final rule, which took effect in August 2014, to lower miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust in all underground and surface coal mines. From Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014 — the first phase of the rule — more than 23,600 dust samples have been collected, and results show that about 99 percent of samples are in compliance. Since MSHA launched its "End Back Lung — Act Now" campaign in 2009, the yearly average of respirable dust levels of designated mining occupations in underground coal mines has fallen every year and, in 2014, reached the lowest level ever recorded.

"These results show that the new dust rule is working, and miners should be breathing cleaner air at coal mines," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Despite concerns from some in the mining industry, most of the valid samples collected have met compliance levels….

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New York State Department of Health Completes Review of High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.health.ny.gov

Acting DOH Commissioner Zucker Recommends Activity Should Not Move Forward in New York State

DEC Commissioner Martens Will Issue a Findings Statement Early Next Year to Prohibit High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

The state Department of Health has completed its public health review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and Acting DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker recommended that high-volume hydraulic fracturing should not move forward in New York State. Dr. Zucker announced his findings and recommendations today at a Cabinet Meeting in Albany.

“I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered,” said Dr. Zucker. “I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, ‘would I let my family live in a community with fracking?’ The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.”

In 2012, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens asked the DOH Commissioner to conduct a review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (SGEIS). Dr. Zucker’s report fulfills that request.

As a result of Dr. Zucker’s report, Commissioner Martens stated at the Cabinet Meeting today that he will issue a legally binding findings statement that will prohibit HVHF in New York State at this time.

“For the past six years, DEC has…

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Florida has a Large Percentage of Medicare’s top “Controlled-Drug” Prescribers

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from flojcc.blogspot.com

Today’s post is authored by Judge David Langham and shared from flojcc.blogspot.com/

A story was recently published on the WUSF website, Health News Florida. It says that the “prolific prescribers” of some medications are facing “Medicare scrutiny.”

A chart in the story reflects the distribution of 192 top prescribing medical providers in 12 states. Of these, 52, or 27% are located here in the Sunshine State. 

The article notes that in 2012, “Medicare covered nearly 27 million prescriptions for powerful narcotic painkillers and stimulants with the highest potential for abuse and dependence.” 

Despite efforts at addressing narcotic use, the article notes that this was a “9 percent” increase compared to 2011. 

Thankfully, though Florida has the largest volume of providers represented in this chart, the top prescriber is not in Florida. Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal of Huntsville, Alabama has that distinction. He prescribed “more than 14,000 Schedule 2 prescriptions in 2012.” This amounted to “more than 80 percent of his Medicare patients” receiving “at least one prescription for a Schedule 2 drug, in many cases oxycodone.”Apparently he is no longer a physician, the article notes he “surrendered his medical license” in 2013. 

The prescription practices are a “real area of concern” for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to the director, quoted in the article. 

The article suggests that data in existing resources can…

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Is There a Link Between Firefighting and Cancer? – Epidemiology in Action

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from blogs.cdc.gov

Today’s post is shared from cdc.gov/

Epidemiology is the art and science of using data to answer questions about the health of groups. In occupational epidemiology, we use that data to understand how work affects health. This blog entry is part of a series that shares the stories behind the data.

Firefighters face numerous hazards in the line of duty. The risks of acute and potentially fatal injuries and stresses from the dangerous environment of a fire scene are well known. In addition to these hazards, fires generate toxic contaminants, including some agents known or suspected to cause cancer. Less is known about the potential long-term health effects firefighters may experience as a result of work-related exposures. In particular, do firefighters face a higher risk of cancer than is found in the general population?

In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) embarked on a multi-year effort to conduct a large-scale study to better understand the potential link between firefighting and cancer. The research was a joint effort led by NIOSH researchers and conducted in collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the University of California at Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and supported, in part, by the U.S Fire Administration.

Higher Cancer Rates

The study found that a combined population of firefighters from three large U.S. cities showed higher-than-expected rates of certain types of cancer…

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Did You Fail To Register To Vote?

In North Carolina, you can no longer register to vote on the same day that you vote.  That means if you were not registered to vote by October 10 you will not be allowed to vote in the November 4th election. If you have not voted in recent elections, or you have moved or changed your name, you must register or update your registration with an Official Registration Form to ensure you are able to vote in the next election.

  • To check your voter registration status go to www.ncsbe.gov/webapps/voter_search/
  • If you are not registered to vote, go to www.ncsbe.gov to fill out the online registration form. If you can’t access the form online you can get a copy from the County Board of Elections, Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Services or Employment Security Commission.
  • Mail your application (with your original signature, not a copy) to your County Board of Elections. To find your local County Board of Elections go to www.ncsbe.gov/webapps/CBESearch/ and click on your county of residence.
  • 1-2 weeks after mailing in your application you should receive a voter registration card. If you don’t receive it, call your local County Board of Elections.

For the next election, don’t wait until the last minute to be sure you are properly registered and remember that in 2016 you must produce a photo ID. Acceptable forms of photo ID in 2016 will be:

  • N.C. driver’s license, learner’s permit or provisional license
  • N.C. special ID card for non-drivers
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military or veterans ID
  • Tribal card from federally or state recognized tribe
  • Out-of-state driver’s license (only valid if voter registration occurred within 90 days of the election)

All IDs must not be expired when voting in 2016, except for voters over age 70 who will be able to present an acceptable, expired ID so long as it was unexpired on the voter’s 70th birthday. Military and veterans’ IDs will also be acceptable even if they have expired.

Can A Gout Attack Be Triggered By Workplace Trauma?

Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. Gout occurs when sharp, needle-like urate crystals, formed from high levels of uric acid in the blood, accumulate in a joint, causing inflammation, swelling and intense pain. Uric acid is found naturally in the body, as well as in certain foods, and sometimes the body either produces too much uric acid or the kidneys do not filter enough uric acid out of the blood, leading to a gout attack.

While obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise are the most common causes of gout, there are other interesting potential causes as well. According to Lawrence Brent, MD, head of the division of rheumatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, a gout attack can be triggered by injury. In a 2010 article on the subject, Dr. Brent wrote that, “Injury doesn’t have to be severe. Just twisting your ankle or foot might trigger an attack of gout.”  This appears to be because urate crystals form more readily in an injured joint, regardless of whether the injury was recent or not.  Even an older injury that has resulted in osteoarthritis can be a trigger for gout attacks. There may also be a correlation between medications that are often taken for injury or arthritis and a gout attack, as aspirin, narcotics and diuretics can can cause a rise in uric acid levels in the blood and result in a gout attack.

For more information on the causes of gout, go to www.everydayhealth.com/gout/what-triggers-your-gout-attacks.aspx

US officials expected to announce Ebola screening at airports

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.cidrap.umn.edu

Federal officials are finalizing details on Ebola screening steps for travelers arriving at US airports, which may be announced in a few days and may resemble the kinds of questions that outbreak countries are asking departing passengers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said today.

The risk of another travel-linked Ebola case, such as the one in Texas, can never be reduced to zero until West Africa’s outbreak is extinguished, he said at a media telebriefing today. But he said the CDC and other government agencies are taking a hard look at additional steps, focusing on ones that won’t hamstring the response process underway overseas.

The three main outbreak countries have so far screened about 36,000 people departing on airlines, with three fourths of them bound for destinations outside the United States. The CDC has trained airport screeners in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which have flagged 77 people with fever and 3 people with other symptoms. As far as the CDC knows, none of the people with fever had Ebola, and most had malaria, a common illness in that part the world, Frieden said.

"I can assure you we will take additional steps, and the details will be worked out and announced in a few days," he added.

Senator suggests screening steps

US Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., issued a statement today saying he spoke with Frieden about tougher screening at US airports and is pleased that the CDC is preparing to…

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