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Occupational Health News Roundup

The White House is poised to take action on workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers; Washington farmworkers make history with wage settlement; and OSHA investigates Amazon.com fulfillment centers after two worker deaths.

Recent pieces include suggestions for ending drunk driving and reducing poverty; the limits of education as a path to greater equality for African-Americans; and “the corporate crusade against low-wage workers.”

Childhood lead poisoning is one of those health risks that everyone has likely heard about, but many probably think it’s a problem of the past. However, a recent study reminds us that in just one state — Michigan — the effects of childhood lead poisoning cost about $330 million every year. And that’s a conservative estimate.

Following the deadly April 17, 2013 explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant – and a series of other catastrophic incidents involving hazardous materials – President Obama directed federal agencies to improve chemical facility security and safety. Their report makes recommendations but does not mandate any immediate action. Meanwhile, dangerous chemical releases occur at workplaces around the US almost daily.

“He gave us the truth of what happened to our loved ones”

Investigator Jim Beck got to the bottom of what happened at the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster. He died last week from cancer.

A new IRS rule is likely to discourage employers from scrapping their health plans and sending workers to get health insurance from exchanges. Given that a reliance on employer-sponsored insurance disadvantages some workers and contributes to job lock, do we really want employers to keep being such a significant source of insurance coverage?

Five million dollars. That’s how much the fast food industry spends every day to peddle largely unhealthy foods to children. And because studies have found that exposure to food marketing does indeed make kids want to eat more, advertising is often tapped as an obvious way to address child obesity. Fortunately, a new study finds that the public agrees.

Not an “accident”: Chris Williamson suffers fatal work-related injury in Florence, Alabama

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality. This one occurred on June 4 on an electrical pole in Florence, Alabama.

Evidence from decades of research has convinced many public health professionals that there is no single factor more important to healthy living than a minimum standard of income and no single factor more harmful to health than persistent poverty.

Researcher Christopher Wildeman has spent his whole career describing and quantifying the more unpleasant parts of people’s lives and his latest study on the surprising prevalence of childhood maltreatment is no exception. Still, there is a bit of a silver lining.