Occupational Health News Roundup

In the Washington Post, Petula Dvorak describes the jobs of social workers in the nation’s capital:

As guardians watching over thousands of the city’s imperiled children each year, social workers confront armed drug dealers, push past stoned parents, shrug off cockroaches, sit on urine-soaked couches and hug kids covered in scabies. …

Often, the most seasoned caseworkers have been with the agency just five years. According to a 2003 General Accountability Office study, the average tenure of caseworkers nationwide is less than two years, mainly due to low salaries, high caseloads, the risk of violence, low pay and insufficient training. In the District, a caseworker’s annual salary averages about $40,000. 

Last year, Kentucky passed a law requiring new safety measures for social workers after social services aide Boni Frederick was fatally beaten and stabbed while on the job (Occupational Hazards has a summary). In other news:

  • New York Times: According to an internal military study, hundreds of U.S. marines may have been killed or wounded by roadside bombs in Iraq because of Marine Corps officials’ refusal of an urgent 2005 request for blast-resistant vehicles from battlefield commanders.
  • Associated Press: Attorneys for victims of the deadly explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery are asking U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to reject the company’s proposed $50 million plea deal.
  • Minnesota Public Radio: Another pork plant worker has developed the same puzzling neurological symptoms afflicting 12 other workers. This worker, like the others, has been exposed to pig brain tissue, but was not stationed by the high-powered air compressor system thought to be a factor in the others’ exposure.
  • NIOSH: There is growing evidence that contingent workers – those working part-time, temporary, and contract jobs – are at higher risk for work-related injury, illness, and death.
  • Occupational Hazards: The Charlotte Observer’s six-part series on health and safety problems in poultry plants got the attention of several Members of Congress, some of whom are planning hearings on worker safety in the poultry industry.

Comments

  1. #1 Martha
    February 22, 2008

    Social Workers and Parole Officers do face these safety threats in all states and they are serious, but in Washington State there is no safety threat as serious or widespread as workplace bullying, or status blind harassment. By not showing a “protected group” the bully continues to mistreat the worker/officer because technically it is still legal to do so.
    – – – – – –
    We’ve noted abusive supervisors get away with constant and merciless harassment. The whole agency tends to lock-step with the abuser rather than the employee. It’s no wonder the average career is only a few years!
    – – – – – –
    Instead of being in a team, a harassed, belittled or demeaned employee steps out into the field to face – whatever – and they are further compromised by suffering from the trauma that occurred in the office.

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