What we're talking about Too Hot, So Long Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Too Hot, So Long

Failing to get the time to acclimate to a hot work environment can be deadly. That’s the message I took away from an item in last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Heat illness and deaths among workers — U.S. 2012-2013” reports on 13 occupational heat-related fatalities investigated by federal OSHA.  Nine of the…

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on heat deaths among U.S. workers, underscoring the often-tragic consequences that result when employers fail to take relatively simple and low-cost preventive actions.

On July 5, James Baldasarre, a 45-year old a Medford, Massachusetts US Postal Service employee who had worked for USPS for 24 years, died from excessive heat. According to news reports, shortly before collapsing in the 95-degree heat, Baldasarre texted his wife to say, “I’m going to die out here today. It’s so hot.”  On…

A hot work environment killed at least 13 people in 2012 and 2013 (not counting cases from nineteen states, including California, that operate their own OSHA programs). On The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton writes "the report shows the diversity of jobs and situations in which workers are at risk of suffering a heat-related illness or death." Kim Krisberg says "most of the people worked outdoors, though seven of the cases happened indoors in work settings with a powerful heat source." Nine of the thirteen died in their first three days of being on the job, showing that the human body needs time to acclimate to a hot new schedule. Krisberg continues "heat illness prevention programs were either incomplete or entirely absent from the workplaces in question." Considering that workplaces in the study were as hot as 106° Fahrenheit, and that heat stroke can damage the brain and organs as well as kill you, simple interventions like providing water, shade, and rest should be a top priority for any employer.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Vestigial organs are relics, reduced in function or even completely losing a function. Finding a novel function, or an expanded secondary function, does not make such organs non-vestigial. The appendix in humans, for instance, is a vestigial organ, despite all the insistence by creationists and less-informed scientists that finding expanded local elements of the immune…

It has long been known by humans that female mammals can be attracted with the call of a young in distress. There is a famous documentary film of the Hadza, a foraging group in Tanzania, in which this method is used by young boys to trap Dasssies (rock Hyrax). First you catch a baby Dassie…

Physical Science

When you think of astrology today, you probably think of someone who makes false promises and proclaims either platitudes or fabrications as though they were preordained truths. But for many millennia dating to just a few centuries ago, astrology was anything but. In fact, by many metrics, it was the very beginning of what has…

When it comes to Einstein, the first thought that comes to people’s mind is usually relativity — either special or general — or perhaps his famous E = mc^2. (Except for Anupam Garg; my old classical mechanics professor used to joke that Einstein’s greatest contribution to physics was his shortened summation notation.) But Einstein’s legacy…

Modern media being what it is, I should get out in front of this, so: I am guilty of putting words in Einstein’s mouth. I mean, go watch my TED-Ed video on particles and waves, or just look at the image up top– that very clearly shows Einstein saying words that he probably never said.…

Environment

Writing books and essays about food, I hear a lot of stories about what people ate growing up. Because cooking was mostly women’s work, those stories are almost always about mothers and grandmothers, and how the food made them feel – and how the memories of that food still do make them feel. There’s a…

Just do this: Then go get stoned!

Humanities

Pregnant workers at center of major Supreme Court case; new legislation could help miners with black lung get needed care; thousands of Amazon.com workers in Germany go on strike; and labor advocates oppose changes to the National Labor Relations Board.

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

My bedtime reading for the past week or so has been Steven Gould’s Exo (excerpt at Tor). This is the fourth book in the Jumper series (not counting the movie tie-in novel), and ordinarily wouldn’t be worth much of a review, because if you haven’t read the first three, this book won’t make a lick…

Education

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Politics

Pregnant workers at center of major Supreme Court case; new legislation could help miners with black lung get needed care; thousands of Amazon.com workers in Germany go on strike; and labor advocates oppose changes to the National Labor Relations Board.

Modern media being what it is, I should get out in front of this, so: I am guilty of putting words in Einstein’s mouth. I mean, go watch my TED-Ed video on particles and waves, or just look at the image up top– that very clearly shows Einstein saying words that he probably never said.…

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

Medicine

Quackery has been steadily infiltrating academic medicine for at least two decades now in the form of what was once called “complementary and alternative medicine” but is now more commonly referred to as “integrative medicine.” Of course, as I’ve written many times before, what “integrative medicine” really means is the “integration” of quackery with science-…

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

Regular readers know that I’ve been a big Star Trek geek (more or less) ever since I first discovered reruns of the original Star Trek episodes in the 1970s, having been too young (but not by much!) to have caught the show during its original 1966-1969 run. True, my interest waxed and waned through the…

Brain & Behavior

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Conservationists are trying hard to save the Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) from extinction. With less than 100 animals remaining, a captive breeding program was started at the University of California, Berkeley. As you can imagine from the image below, the geographic range of this fish is smaller than other wild vertebrates. They are only found…

On this anniversary of 9/11 we remember not only the victims but also the heroes of that fateful day including countless first responders as well as their rescue animals that searched tirelessly for victims. The last known living rescue dog from 9/11 is Bretagne, a 15-year old golden retriever who returned to the memorial site…

Technology

I have no doubt IOS 8 will be great. In fact, that rhymes. But the nature of the beast dictates that certain Apple-endemic problems will arise for some people. Handoff Continuity One of the new features is “Handoff” which allows the seamless integration of all of your computing machinery, including regular computers, iPhones, iPads, etc.…

No joke. George (the goldfish) had developed a rather large tumor over the past year and the owners loved the fish so much, they spent $200 to have the life-threatening tumor surgically removed:

Conservationists are trying hard to save the Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) from extinction. With less than 100 animals remaining, a captive breeding program was started at the University of California, Berkeley. As you can imagine from the image below, the geographic range of this fish is smaller than other wild vertebrates. They are only found…

Information Science

Melissa K. Aho and Erika Bennet’s anthology The Machiavellian Librarian: Winning Allies, Combating Budget Cuts, and influencing Stakeholders is pretty good for what it is, in some ways better than I expected. It’s a guide for maneuvering office politics and advancing your agenda, big and small, with the stakeholders and influencers that matters in your…

Is jazz satire possible? Can it possibly be funny or even relevant? This question is more immediate and pressing that you would normally imagine in the wake of serial controversies in the jazz world. It all began at the end of July when The New Yorker posted a article in their humour column by Django…

It’s been quite a long while since I’ve done a “books I’d like to read” post, that’s for sure. This fall seems to be have a particularly exciting list of books so I thought I’d pull some of them together (as well as some older books) here for all our enjoyment. These are all books…

Jobs

Pregnant workers at center of major Supreme Court case; new legislation could help miners with black lung get needed care; thousands of Amazon.com workers in Germany go on strike; and labor advocates oppose changes to the National Labor Relations Board.

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on September 10 at a fracking site near Mannsville, Oklahoma.