Archives for February, 2012

When the Academy Awards reminded me of the death of a day laborer

The topics for my blog posts sometimes come from unusual places. This post is one of these. It popped in my head as I watched Natalie Portman announce the nominees for best actor during Sunday night’s Academy Award broadcast. The snippet featuring Demián Bichir in “A Better Life” reminded me of a worker-fatality report that…

by Kim Krisberg Walking around a public health laboratory is seriously cool. Giant humming machines, rows of test tubes and small, round dishes containing specimens with hard-to-pronounce names, biohazard warnings and emergency shower stations, an egg incubator and liquid nitrogen generator, people in protective gear with bulky white hoods and face shields. Oh, and boxes…

There’s a growing body of research linking childhood trauma (abuse, neglect, family dysfunction, etc.) to impaired brain development and functioning. Maia Szalavitz at TIME’s Healthland blog describes the findings of new study by Harvard researchers (published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences): Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans…

Worker fatality in my hometown results in $12,000 penalty, third chance for employer to improve safety

On July 27, 2011, just a few miles from my home in San Marcos, TX, Mr. Margarito Guardado Resinos, 34, and Mr. Nelson Pineda were working together to erect a pre-engineered steel building frame on property owned by Thermon Manufacturing. The workers were employed by Jetka Steel Erectors of Katy, TX, a firm hired by…

Public health advocates challenge “except in agriculture” exclusions

Agricultural exceptionalism is a term used to describe the special status awarded to employers and firms involved in agriculture. Proponents argue that the special status is necessary because (1) agricultural products contribute to broad national goals (e.g., providing safe and affordable food, preventing hunger); and (2) farming is inherently risky because of the uncertainty of…

Occupational Health News Roundup

Earlier today, US Attorney Booth Goodwin charged Upper Big Branch mine superintendent Gary May with “conspiring to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement efforts” at that mine. Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia was the site of numerous health and safety violations leading up to the April 5,…

By Kim Krisberg Friday wasn’t a great day for public health. That day, Congress voted to raid the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to the tune of $5 billion. The move comes as part of a deal to delay scheduled cuts to Medicare physician payment rates and was part of a legislative…

by Kim Krisberg Amanda DeSimpelare was always interested in science, but she was wary of what a career in the field would be like. She pictured herself being tucked away in a laboratory all day. It wasn’t too appealing. Then, in the summer of 2010, she discovered public health. “When I pictured science before, I…

What’s taking so long?

“What’s taking so long?” might be uttered by a youngster waiting for a parent to assemble a swing set, or an art patron waiting for a conservator to restore a masterpiece. When the wait is finally over and the eager child or art lover see the final product, they realize the time was well spent.…

by Elizabeth Grossman What’s being called the first-ever such criminal conviction, an Italian court has returned a guilty verdict against owners of Eternit, the Switzerland-based building materials company. Two weeks ago, W.R. Grace announced its bankruptcy case settlement for the residents of Libby, Montana where the company’s vermiculite plant exposed residents to deadly asbestos fibers…