Occupational Health News Roundup

On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the toll on members of the military is substantial: at least 3,988 U.S. personnel have died in Iraq and 29,395 more have been wounded. iCasulties.org estimates the total number of Coalition force fatalities at 4,298 and Iraqi Security Force fatalities at 6,727.

What these numbers don’t reveal is the toll on wounded soldiers, their families, and their communities. Veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and mental health problems often have to fight to get the care they need from a system ill-prepared to provide it; meanwhile, mental and physical hardships contribute to economic problems and even homelessness, making the return to health even more difficult. In some horrifying cases, PTSD-suffering veterans turn their guns on family or community members. Here are a few of the articles from the past few months about war’s toll on veterans and those around them:

New York Times: The Plight of American Veterans
The American Prospect: What Happened to Mental Health Care for Vets?
NPR: Private Attorneys Fight for Disabled Veterans
New York Times: When Strains on Military Families Turn Deadly
Washington Post: Soldier Suicides at Record Level
AP: Pentagon Reports Increase in Harassment
AP: New Generation of Homeless Vets Emerge
USA Today: Army Task Force Finds Gaps in Brain-Injury Care
NYT: Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles
McClatchy: Payments Vary Greatly for New Veterans with Mental Illness
NPR: Army Dismissals for Mental Health, Misconduct Rise
AP: Wounded Vets Also Suffer Financial Woes

In other occupational health and safety news:

New York Times (also here): A construction crane collapse in Manhattan killed six construction workers and injured others.

Houston Chronicle: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is questioning whether the government’s proposed criminal plea deal with BP over its Texas City refinery explosion (which killed 15 workers in 2005) would protect workers or deter future misconduct.

Washington Post: The Federal Aviation Administration’s inspector general and a grand jury are investigating whether an agency decision to hire mentally disabled workers for work on an asbestos-containing shack was made in order to circumvent proper procedures.

Occupational Hazards: Changing employee perceptions about same-level slips and falls is an important step in preventing them.

NIOSH: Needlesticks put surgical personnel at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens; using blunt-tipped needles in certain sutures can reduce the risk of needlestick injuries.