Tag Archives: NIOSH

Occupational Skin Diseases

Occupational skin diseases are one of the most common occupational diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that in the United States more than 13 million workers are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through their skin. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, over 15% of the reported occupational diseases were skin diseases.

 

These diseases include, but are not limited to, contact dermatitis (eczema), allergic dermatitis, skin cancers, and infections. Contact dermatitis, which has symptoms of painful and itchy skin, blisters, redness, and swelling, is the most commonly reported occupational skin disease. Workers in food service, cosmetology, health care, agriculture, cleaning, painting, mechanics, and construction industries and sectors are at risk of developing these diseases.

 

This type of occupational disease is clearly preventable. To control and prevent exposure to chemicals that cause occupational skin diseases, OSHA recommends that employers switch to less toxic chemicals, redesign the work process to avoid the splashes or immersion, and have employees wear protective gloves and clothing.

Let OSHA Do Its Job

OSHA is being prevented from fulfilling its mission.

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul McAndrew, from the Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

In 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety & Health Act (the Act), which created the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Among other things, the Act requires every employer to provide a safe workplace. To help employers reach this goal, OSHA promulgated hundreds of rules in the decade after it was created. OSHA’s rulemaking process has, however, slowed to a trickle since then.  

While the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health recently identified over 600 toxic chemicals to which workers are exposed, in the last 16 years OSHA has added only two toxic chemicals to its list of regulated chemicals. This is because Congress, Presidents and the courts have hamstrung OSHA. For example, in March 2001 the Bush Administration and a Republican Congress effectively abolished OSHA’s ergonomics rule, a rule the agency had worked on for many years. 

These delays and inactions have caused more than 100,000 avoidable workplace injuries and illnesses.

These delays and inactions have caused more than 100,000 avoidable workplace injuries and illnesses. Workers are being injured and killed by known hazardous circumstances and OSHA can’t act.

Congress and the President need to break this logjam – we need to free OSHA to do its job of safeguarding workers.

Heat Illnesses and Workplace Safety

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to develop a heat-related illness. Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. When this happens, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided information to help recognize heat stroke and administer the proper first aid. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech. Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke: (1) call 911 immediately; (2) move the worker to a cool, shaded environment; (3) cool the worker by soaking their clothes with water; (4) spraying/sponging/showering them with water and (5) fanning their body.

Employers should take precautions to protect their workers from heat illness. The CDC offers guildelines, including scheduling hot jobs for the cooler part of the day, acclimatizing workers by exposing them for progressively longer time periods to hot work environments and providing rest periods with water breaks. The CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provide more informational resources at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/.   

Senior Care Workers Are Victims of Wage Violations

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

I found a recent story from California very troubling. The nation’s largest assisted living company agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle claims for underpayment and mistreatment of the workers who take care of the elderly. Lack of proper overtime pay, lack of mandatory meal and rest periods, and improper payment of mandatory training are examples of the mistreatment. 

The victims were the least-paid workers who did the hardest physical labor, according to the story. These people who bathed, fed, and provided the most hands-on care for our frail, elderly loved ones were denied wages and overtime pay for 7 years, according to the terms of the settlement.

Care for the old, frail and disabled is big business. Nearly 750,000 people are receiving assisted living care, according to the ProPublica article. And the industry is just going to expand, as folks are sicker but have higher expectations for care, while also living longer, according to this article from NPR

Fair treatment of our elders’ caregivers is essential. The wages are low, as most difficult jobs often are. Violating employment rules and statutes for businesses to save money and make larger profits seems particularly offensive for these workers. And they are not often protected from or informed of the hazards of their jobs, many of which can have serious consequences for workers’ health and well being, according to these blog posts from respected colleague Jon Gelman, an attorney in New Jersey: Protecting Healthcare Workers is a Goal of NIOSH and NIOSH Acts To Prevent Lifting Injuries For Home Healthcare Workers.

Congratulations to the workers and their representative who stood up to this very large employer that has around 500 facilities in the United States. It takes courage and tenacity to fight battles like this.

All of us who care about workers need to be aware that these are battle worth fighting. And that these battles can be won.

The most dangerous job in the service industry is done mainly by women

Hotel room cleaning is a job that comes with risks

Today’s post comes to us from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York.

Hotels can be a dangerous place to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of all service industry workers, hotel workers have the highest rate of injury at 5%. The average for all service industries is only about 3.4%.

Hotel room cleaners have significantly higher injury rates than other hotel workers, with nearly 8% experiencing Continue reading