Occupational Health News Roundup

As long as the U.S. system has employers bearing the brunt of soaring health insurance costs (or avoiding them by not offering coverage at all), workers, companies, and even charities will be trying out different approaches to affording healthcare. Here are a few approaches that have made the news recently:

  • The new Farmers’ Health Cooperative of Wisconsin brings a healthcare option to farmworkers, who often have a hard time getting insurance.
  • Some employers are offering free drugs to treat their employees’ chronic health conditions, figuring it will pay off in healthcare savings over the long term.
  • Corporate wellness programs designed to lower health insurance premiums raise questions about how much employers will intrude into employees’ lives in pursuit of the laudable goal of improving their health.
  • Seven philanthropies are contributing more than $4.3 million toward medical care for Ground Zero-area workers and residents who developed serious illnesses after the 9/11 attacks.
  • There were a few stories in the news this week related to items from previous Occupational Health News Roundups:

    Kentucky legislators have inched forward on two bills highlighted in last week’s news roundup: A bill designed to make social workers safer on the job, which initially provided no additional funding for staffing, now provides $2.3 million; a mine safety bill has progressed from committee to the House, but its original sponsor insists it has been “hijacked.”

    Employees of Monsanto Chemical Co.’s Dayton Project, who were unknowingly were exposed to radiation as the worked on the atomic bomb in the 1940s, have received special status that will allow them to be compensated under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. Check this roundup for more on that program.

    And on a related note: Based on a pattern of nuclear safety violations at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab, federal nuclear-safety regulators have fined the University of California $1.1 million.

    Here are a few other news stories related to occupational health:

  • New York Times: Many of the workers who come to the U.S. under the current guest worker program face a host of abuses.
  • MSNBC: Firefighters’ personal alarms don’t always work as intended, and the consequences can be deadly.
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hispanic workers often hold jobs in risky industries like construction, manufacturing and farming, and they face a high rate of crippling injuries and death at work.
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: A zookeeper was fatally mauled by a jaguar, and the tragedy has renewed the debate about whether big predator animals should be held in captivity.