Occupational Health News Roundup

Whistleblowers often play key roles in uncovering problems, from unsafe working conditions to embezzlement and fraud. Yet when the Project on Government Oversight examined the Inspectors General system, which receives and investigates complaints about federal agencies, it found that IGs too often treat whistleblowers as afterthoughts and fail to protect them from retaliation.

The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe highlights some of POGO’s findings on his Federal Eye blog, and emphasizes the problems that the report found with the websites and call centers that are supposed to make it easy for government employees and anyone else with concerns to report them anonymously.

In other news:

CNN: Although the Department of Defense insists that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan face no long-term effects from exposure to fumes from trash “burn pits” at military sites, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it will study the health impacts.

New York Times: The Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association – two unions that had been engaged in a bitter dispute over the past year – have agreed to reconcile and unite to push for a better healthcare system and a law that will make it easier to unionize workers.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation News Digest: The stimulus package includes $500 million for training healthcare professionals; programs that aim to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce and retrain workers displaced from other industries are among those that will receive extra funds.

Las Vegas Sun: State Senator Maggie Carlton has proposed a bill that would overhaul Nevada OSHA’s structure in an attempt to insulate it from industry influence.

Reuters: Activists say shipbreaking operations in Alang, India already disregard safety and environmental guidelines, and they fear the problem will worsen as the shipbreaking business as owners seek to rid themselves of the financial burden of idle ships.