Occupational Health News Roundup

Firefighters have been doing amazing work in California, where destructive wildfires are now largely under control. In the San Deigo Union-Tribune, Tony Manolatos describes daring rescue work by helicopter pilot Mike Wagstaff, while the LA Times’ Janet Wilson relates rookie firefighter Jason Carl’s harrowing experience of being trapped by a wall of flame. CBS reports on the more than 3,000 prison inmates who’ve been fighting the fires for $1 an hour, and Raja Jagadeesan and Dan Childs of ABC highlight the long-term health effects that firefighters can face.

In other news:

Observer (UK): Indian children working in conditions close to slavery appear to still be making clothing for the Gap, despite the company’s rigorous social audit systems.

Associated Press: 3,000 workers harvest salt from Uganda’s Lake Katwe, without equipment to shield themselves from the water’s corrosive effects.

News & Observer (NC): The Farm Labor Organizing Committee is working to unionize North Carolina tobacco workers, with a focus on RJ Reynolds; FLOC is particularly concerned about tobacco workers because they’re vulnerable to rashes and illnesses caused by nicotine in the plants, as well as the normal hardships of farm work.

Forbes: Researchers studied information from the Veterans’ Administration for the years 1999 to 2004, and found almost 808,000 veterans diagnosed with depressive symptoms; 1,683 of those veterans took their own lives, and the youngest group (ages 18-44) was at higher risk of suicide. The VA has a special toll-free suicide hotline specifically aimed at veterans at 1-800-273-TALK.

Occupational Hazards: Workers in healthcare facilities, schools, correctional facilities and daycare centers are often at the highest risk of being exposed to staph infections – and recent outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus make it particularly important to stop transmission.