Category Archives: Health & Safety

Capture-Recapture Estimates of Nonfatal Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

Source: Leslie I. Boden, and Al Ozonoff, Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 18, Issue 6, June 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We examine reporting of nonfatal injury and illness reporting for the two most important sources of such data in the United States: workers’ compensation data and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

We linked individual case records from establishments reporting to the BLS with individual cases reported to workers’ compensation systems in six states for 1998-2002 and used capture-recapture analysis to estimate the proportion of injuries reported. Data are for private sector workers and exclude mining, railroad and water transportation, temporary employment agencies, membership organizations, and small agricultural establishments.

For injuries and illnesses eligible for income benefits, using conservative assumptions, we estimate that workers’ compensation systems in the six states missed over 180,000 lost-time injuries in the sampled industries, that the BLS survey missed almost 340,000, and that about 69,000 injuries were unreported to either system.

Underreporting of nonfatal occupational injury and illness is substantial in both systems, but particularly in the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Using both sources improves coverage but falls far short of an accurate count for four of the six states. Reporting rates vary widely, so we cannot infer them for the entire United States.

Government, Industry Play the Numbers Game on Worker Safety in Meatpacking Plants

Source: Roger Horowitz, Labor Notes, #351, June 2008

… But today the figures make beef and pork processing look far safer than it is. In the 1990s companies began keeping injured workers on the job, which reduced their reported injury rates and their worker’s compensation claims.

They were aided in 2002 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which changed its recording methods so that the most common injuries in meatpacking are now exiled from official statistics. The result is that today’s government data seriously under-report injury levels in the meatpacking industry….

Emergency Response Guidebook 2008

Source: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (U.S. Department of Transportation)

The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG2008) was developed jointly by the US Department of Transportation, Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico (SCT) for use by firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material. It is primarily a guide to aid first responders in (1) quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident, and (2) protecting themselves and the general public during this initial response phase of the incident. The ERG is updated every three to four years to accommodate new products and technology. The next version is scheduled for 2012.

DOT’s goal is to place one ERG2008 in each emergency service vehicle, nationwide, through distribution to state and local public safety authorities. To date, nearly eleven million copies have been distributed without charge to the emergency response community.

Full Version (PDF; 2.6 MB)

Enduring Mental Health Morbidity and Social Function Impairment in World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and Cleanup Workers: The Psychological Dimension of an Environmental Health Disaster

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

Workers’ service in 9/11 recovery operations is associated with chronic impairment of mental health and social functioning. Psychological distress and psychopathology in WTC workers greatly exceed population norms. Surveillance and treatment programs continue to be needed.

Full text (526 KB)

Health-Care-Associated Infections in Hospitals: Leadership Needed from HHS to Prioritize Prevention Practices and Improve Data on These Infections

Source: Governmental Accountability Office, March 31, 2008

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health-care-associated infections (HAI) are estimated to be 1 of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. HAIs are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions. GAO was asked to examine (1) CDC’s guidelines for hospitals to reduce or prevent HAIs and what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does to promote their implementation, (2) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) and hospital accrediting organizations’ required standards for hospitals to reduce or prevent HAIs and how compliance is assessed, and (3) HHS programs that collect data related to HAIs and integration of the data across HHS. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from CDC, CMS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and accrediting organizations.

Full report
Testimony

Current Treatment Options for Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection

Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases

During the past decade, there has been a marked increase in the prevalence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in the United States and elsewhere. The most common such infections are those involving the skin and skin structures. Although a number of these lesions (including small furuncles and abscesses) respond well to surgical incision and drainage, oral antimicrobial agents are commonly used to treat these infections in outpatients. Unfortunately, with the exception of linezolid, none of the agents presently being used in this fashion has been subjected to rigorous clinical trial. Thus, current therapy is based largely on anecdotal evidence. For more-serious infections requiring hospitalization, parenteral antimicrobials such as vancomycin, teicoplanin, daptomycin, linezolid, and tigecycline are presently available and have demonstrated effectiveness in randomized, prospective, double-blind trials.

Full article

Perceived Insufficient Rest or Sleep — Four States, 2006

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC), February 29, 2008

From the press release:
About 10 percent of adults report not getting enough rest or sleep every day in the past month, according to a new four-state study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention′s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The data from the four states-Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Rhode Island-may not reflect national trends. But an additional study conducted by CDC utilizing data from the National Health Interview Study indicated that across all age groups the percentage of adults who, on average, report sleeping six hours or less has increased from 1985 to 2006.

Nationwide, an estimated 50 to 70 million people suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. Sleep loss is associated with health problems, including obesity, depression, and certain risk behaviors, including cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking.

Healthcare Workers in Non-Hospital Settings at Substantial Risk of Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Source: At the Frontline, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Vol. 3 no. 1, February 2008

In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers from the Mailman School assessed the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens among non-hospital based registered nurses (RNs), and found that nearly one out of ten of the more than 1,100 nurse participants reported at least one needlestick injury in the previous 12 months. Findings of the study are published in the December issue of Industrial Health.

According to Robyn Gershon, DrPH, professor of Sociomedical Sciences and the study’s principal investigator, “These rates of exposure are surprising since they are similar to rates reported for hospital-based nurses, even though hospitalized patients generally have high levels of acuity of patient care (i.e., more procedures, including more invasive procedures), than are typically performed in community healthcare settings.” But, as Dr. Gershon and colleagues point out, these findings are not completely unexpected since patient care, including more complex types of care, is increasingly delivered at non-hospital based healthcare facilities, including out-patient clinics, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, patients’ homes, and public health clinics.

He Says His Agency Is At Fault: Record-Keeping Chief Says OSHA Lets Companies Underreport Injuries

Source: Kerry Hall and Ames Alexander, Charlotte Observer, February 11, 2008

Bob Whitmore is doing what few career government employees dare — publicly criticizing his own agency.

Whitmore, an expert in record-keeping requirements for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said OSHA is allowing employers to vastly underreport the number of injuries and illnesses their workers suffer.

The true rate for some industries — including poultry processors — is likely two to three times higher than government numbers suggest, he said.

Studies Suggest Higher Risk for Contingent Workers Than in Traditional Employment, NIOSH Researchers Report

Source: NOISH Update, February 5, 2008

Studies in the U.S. and Europe suggest that contingent workers such as part-time, temporary, or contract workers are at higher risk for occupational injuries and illnesses than workers in traditional employment situations, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report.

Several possible reasons for the higher risk are suggested in the increasing scientific evidence, and warrant further scientific investigation, the researchers stated. The article, “Contingent Workers and Contingent Health: Risks of a Modern Economy,” by Kristin J. Cummings, M.D., M.P.H., and Kathleen Kreiss, M.D., was published in the January 30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.