One-Third of Fukushima Emergency Workers May Have Increased Cancer Risk

The tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 incapacitated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, led to releases of radioactive material and left the nation reeling. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports an increased estimated risk for some cancers for those located in the most contaminated parts of the Fukushima Prefecture and for about one-third of the emergency workers who responded to the disaster. For the general population both inside and outside of Japan, however, WHO reported no observable or anticipated increase in cancer risk. “The primary concern identified in this report is related to specific cancer risks linked to particular locations and demographic factors,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO […]

NSC Pushes for Adequate NIOSH Funding

A new policy position from the National Safety Council (NSC) stresses the importance of providing NIOSH, the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for work-related illness and injury prevention, with adequate, stable funding. NIOSH information and research generate products and services designed to help avert workplace illness, injury, disability and death. Over the last several years, NIOSH has received cuts to its funding and several specific NIOSH programs have been targeted for elimination. NSC especially is concerned about the proposed elimination of NIOSH’s Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AgFF) Program. The government currently is operating under a continuing resolution which funds […]

Worker Electrocution Sparks OSHA Violations for Highway Technologies Inc.

On Sept. 17, 2012, a worker employed by Highway Technologies Inc. was fatally injured while working with equipment that came into contact with overhead power lines during highway work in western Wisconsin. OSHA issued 10 safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $448,000 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Highway Technologies Inc. was performing guardrail and sign installation for a 13-mile stretch of I-94 near Menomonie, Wis., under contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation when the incident occurred. “Highway Technologies failed to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Multiple instances of the […]

Special Focus: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Telecommuting

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made some waves this week when a leaked memo outlined the company’s plans to rein in working-from-home arrangements. This policy sparked conversations surrounding the benefits and pitfalls of telecommuting. The Yahoo memo stated, in part, “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” But not everyone agrees that being physically present in the workplace is best for productivity and employee morale, and many are questioning Yahoo’s decision. “Broad policy changes […]

New Safety Initiative Targets Construction Sites in the U.K.

Great Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a month-long national initiative to identify potentially unsafe practices on construction sites in order to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The initiative will run through March 15. During this safety initiative, HSE inspectors will make unannounced visits to construction sites to ensure high-risk activities are being managed safely. Specifically, HSE inspectors will consider whether: Jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place. Equipment is correctly installed/assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly. Sites are well organized to avoid trips and falls. Walkways and stairs are free from obstructions. […]

Text Neck: The Link Between Texting and Musculoskeletal Injuries

If you spend long periods of time texting each day, your favorite method of communication might end up creating a literal pain in the neck. Doctors even have a term for this ailment caused by too tilting your head forward and down while tapping out text messages: text neck. “People get so focused on these devices that they end up holding their neck and upper back in abnormal positions for a long period of time; enough that other people coined the phrase ‘text neck,’ which is essentially referring to postural pain,” said Chris Cornett, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon and spine specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Orthopaedic […]

Coal Miners to Receive Free Black Lung Screenings from NIOSH

Coal miners in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania soon will have the opportunity to receive free, confidential screenings for black lung from a NIOSH mobile testing unit. NIOSH is offering the screenings beginning in March to provide early detection of pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust. Workers may access NIOSH’s mobile testing unit at conveniently placed community and mine locations. “NIOSH is committed to public health outreach and surveillance for coal worker health,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Early detection of black lung in coal miners, through a screening program that is free and […]

CSB: Pipe Corrosion Caused Chevron Refinery Fire

On Aug. 6, 2012, a hydrocarbon release and massive fire occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, Calif. Following an investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released a joint report with Cal/OSHA pointing to sulfidation corrosion as the cause of the incident. CSB stressed that the petrochemical refiners carefully must examine potential corrosion mechanisms and use the safest possible construction materials to avoid experiencing this type of failure. “The report, resulting from a cooperative effort between the CSB, Cal/OSHA, the United Steelworkers (USW) and Chevron, provides a solid, technical basis for the firm conclusion that the pipe corroded over time from sulfidation corrosion,” said CSB Chairperson […]

Think Checking Your Email Often Will Increase Productivity? Think Again.

Today’s employees are better connected to colleagues and clients than ever before. With smartphones, email, instant messaging, texting and more, workers can communicate faster and more frequently than they could in the past. While it might appear this type of technology can help employees become more productive, in reality, too much communication can spell distraction. A new study from Apex Performance suggests that workers who are bombarded with communications end up distracted and unable to concentrate on a single task. Even more concerning is the fact that these employees typically receive no suggestions or training in how to overcome frequent interruptions from phone calls, emails and text messages to focus […]

NFPA partners with LEGOLAND® California Resort for fire safety education

NFPA partners with LEGOLAND® California Resort for fire safety education Partnership brings important safety messaging to kids and families February 22, 2013 – First responders from all across southern California , their families and California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover were on hand today as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced its’ partnership with LEGOLAND® California Resort to serve as the Park’s presenting fire safety partner, providing lifesaving safety information. The NFPA is sponsoring the Park’s fire safety-themed “The Big Test” live show at the Fun Town Stage where additional fire safety messages have been incorporated. “The Big Test” is the longest running show since the Park opened in 1999 and is an […]