Category Archives: Health & Safety

OSHA–the (not quite) lost films

Source: OSHA, 1980

If ever there was evidence of a sea change in labor relations, it is these lost OSHA films from late in the Carter administration. The life of these films was short: made in 1980 and destroyed in 1981. They’re great 30 minutes movies commissioned by OSHA, have Studs Terkel on narration, Johnny Paycheck on the soundtrack, and discuss both the history and significance of occupational disease and regulation. They actually show workers taking the issues into their own hands and using government regulations and agencies to prevent occupational disease and injury. The films are:
“Worker to Worker,” “Can’t Take No More,” and “The Story of OSHA.”

When Reagan appointed Thorne G. Auchter to head OSHA in 1981, he apparently had the films recalled and destroyed. A few renegade union folks withheld their copies, which circulated in bootleg fashion. They are now available on the internet and are a fabulous resource for both teaching and research.

– Link to the films on the Internet Archive

– Link to the films on YouTube

Occupational Safety and Health Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 9: Occupational Safety and Health Statistics, Updated September 17, 2008

Data on safety and health conditions for workers on the job have been produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since before World War I. The first report issued by the BLS summarized industrial accidents in the iron and steel industries during the war period, presenting information on the frequency and severity of injuries, the occupation of the injured workers, and the nature of their injuries.

U.S. Policy Regarding Pandemic-Influenza Vaccines

Source: Julie Somers and Philip Webre, Congressional Budget Office, September 2008

The possibility of an influenza pandemic is cause for concern among policymakers, public health experts, and the world’s populations. Against that prospect, in 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a plan that includes a series of measures, first to monitor the spread of disease in the event of a worldwide outbreak and then to facilitate a rapid response. That second step includes developing influenza vaccines and expanding the nation’s capacity for producing influenza vaccine; creating stockpiles of antiviral drugs and other medical supplies (to avert an influenza pandemic or minimize its effects); coordinating federal, state, and local preparations; and planning for public outreach and communications.

HHS’s plan has two specific goals that relate to vaccines. The first goal is to have in place by 2011 domestic production capacity sufficient to supply vaccine to the entire U.S. population within six months of the onset of a pandemic. The second goal is to stockpile enough doses of vaccine to inoculate 20 million people as soon as possible after the onset of a pandemic.

This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper, which was prepared at the request of the
Senate Majority Leader, focuses on the government’s role in the vaccine market that stems from HHS’s plan. It provides information on the current state of readiness, the additional expenditures likely to be necessary to achieve HHS’s vaccine-related goals, the expenditures that are likely to be needed to maintain preparedness, and the approaches of other countries as they too face the prospect of an influenza pandemic.

National MRSA Education Initiative: Preventing MRSA Skin Infections

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), 2008

The goal of the National MRSA Education Initiative is to help Americans better recongnize and prevent MRSA skin infections.

Why is this important? Recent data show that Americans visit the doctor approximately 12 million times each year to get checked for suspected Staph or MRSA skin infection.

The good news is that a few simple steps can prevent and reduce the spread of MRSA.

Managing the Threat of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Home Care

Source: Sheila Grossman and Diana DeBartolomeo Mager, Home Healthcare Nurse, Vol. 26 no. 6, June 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Severe fatal complications such as pneumonia, cutaneous abscesses, empyema, necrotizing fasciitis, and sepsis can result from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) even for healthy people. An overview of managing the threat of MRSA in home care is presented. The home healthcare nurse can be proactive with MRSA infections by following and teaching strict medical asepsis while assessing the slightest signs and symptoms indicating that a patient is deteriorating or not responding to the prescribed antibiotic or wound care. This article aims to increase awareness of community-acquired (CA)-MRSA, to offer suggestions for preventing CA-MRSA, and to describe methods for managing this infectious process in the home.

Spin Cycle: Product Defence – How Industry Money Protects Killer Chemicals

Source: Hazards news, 23 August 2008

It happens all the time. When a study is published linking a workplace chemical to serious disease, a scientist working for the industry disputes the finding. Writing in the current issue of Hazards magazine, US academic David Michaels reveals industry has taken its lead “directly from the tobacco industry’s playbook”, employing the same tactics and the same public relations firms.
See also:
Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP)

Exposure to Stress: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals

Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Publication No. 2008-136, July 2008

Occupational stress has been a long-standing concern of the health care industry. Studies indicate that health care workers have higher rates of substance abuse and suicide than other professions and elevated rates of depression and anxiety linked to job stress. In addition to psychological distress, other outcomes of job stress include burnout, absenteeism, employee intent to leave, reduced patient satisfaction, and diagnosis and treatment errors.

The purpose of this brochure is to
• identify the sources of occupational stress
• identify the adverse health effects of occupational stress
• recommend work practices to reduce occupational stress

Newly Detected Air Pollutant Mimics Damaging Effects Of Cigarette Smoke

Source: Pollution Online, August 19, 2008

A previously unrecognized group of air pollutants could have effects remarkably similar to harmful substances found in tobacco smoke, Louisiana scientists are reporting in a study scheduled for presentation today at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Inhaling those pollutants exposes the average person up to 300 times more free radicals daily than from smoking one cigarette, they added.

Air Pollution Damages More Than Lungs: Heart And Blood Vessels Suffer Too

Source: Pollution Online, August 18, 2008

According to an article published in the August 26, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), air pollution has both short- and long-term toxic effects that injure the heart and blood vessels, increase rates of hospitalization for cardiac illness, and can even cause death.

When pollutants are inhaled, they trigger an increase in “reactive oxygen species”–superoxiding molecules that damage cells, cause inflammation in the lungs, and spark the cascade of harmful effects in the heart and cardiovascular system. Recent research suggests that ultrafine air pollutants, such as those coming from car exhaust, may pass into the blood stream and damage the heart and blood vessels directly. Hearts directly exposed to ultrafine air pollutants show an immediate decrease in both coronary blood flow and the heart’s pumping function, as well as a tendency to develop arrhythmias, according to studies conducted at the Heart Institute.