Occupational Health News Roundup

For Memorial Day, news stories highlighted the importance of hearing, remembering, and responding to the stories of those who’ve served our country. The San Diego Union-Tribune profiled “four seemingly ordinary people who led extraordinary lives” in past wars; in the Washington Post, Edward G. Lengel suggests that a failure to listen to World War I veterans signaled an unwillingness to hear horrific tales. In the New York Times op-ed section and Outposts blog, respectively, Helen Benedict urges us not to overlook the nearly one-third of female veterans who say they’ve been sexually assaulted or raped while in the military, and Timothy Egan says we all need to feel the impacts of the current Iraq conflict, rather than having it be “so out-of-sight, so stage-managed to be painless and invisible.”  

The Washington Post profiled two groups of people who heard stories of veterans not getting the services they deserve – and responded by volunteering their time and skills to fill the gaps. Volunteer buglers are playing taps at military funerals, and private mental health counselors are donating free services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems.

In other news:

New York Times op-ed: Elias Dominguez suffered severe, permanent brain damage after his employer ordered him to clean cyanide waste from a tank without proper protection – but under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, an employer can only be charged with a crime if the employee dies.

Washington Independent: After a long fight, Burger King has agreed to pay farmworkers an extra penny per pound for tomatoes.

Washington Post: The Supreme Court has ruled that the law protects both private-sector and federal workers from retaliation when they complain about discrimination.

Los Angeles Times: The Federal Aviation Administration barred pilots and air-traffic controllers from using the anti-smoking drug Chantix, after the Institute for Safe Medication Practices expressed concern about its use in “settings where a lapse in alertness or motor control could lead to massive, serious injury.”

The Republican (Massachusetts): The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the state Department of Health to establish a maximum number of patients that could be assigned to any one hospital nurse (via RWJF News Digest).