Occupational Health News Roundup

It’s become increasingly evident over the past few years that many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have sustained mild traumatic brain injuries, often from being in the vicinity of a powerful blast. (See last month’s New York Times article for details.) Symptoms can range from dizziness and persistent headaches to hearing problems and memory loss.

Now, USA Today reports, the government is substantially increasing benefits for veterans suffering from milder forms of brain injuries. A regulation announced this week modifies a 1961 rating schedule for mild brain trauma. Doctors have a learned a great deal about brain injuries in the intervening decades, including that some injuries don’t show up on scans but still can cause problems that interfere with veterans’ lives and livelihoods.

In other news:

Washington Post: Somaly Mam was sold into a Phnom Penh brothel at age 16; after escaping, she committed herself to fighting human trafficking. She came to Washington earlier this month to urge Congress to pass an anti-trafficking law.

New York Times: Virtually every career employee of the Long Island Railroad applies for and gets disability payments soon after retirement, a Times investigation found. The reasons include an unusual LIRR contract and the federal Railroad Retirement Board, which almost never turns down a disability claim.

Environmental Health News: Researchers studying Vietnam veterans report that those exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange developed prostate cancer at twice the rate of their unexposed counterparts and had more than three times the rate of metastasized cancer.

Marketplace: Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a hard time finding jobs.

EHS Today: Instead of just reacting to problems, occupational health professionals should think about what constitutes true safety success.