healthcare

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Occupational Health News Roundup

Pregnant workers at center of major Supreme Court case; new legislation could help miners with black lung get needed care; thousands of Amazon.com workers in Germany go on strike; and labor advocates oppose changes to the National Labor Relations Board.

That people who work nights have their sleep cycles thrown out of balance has serious consequences but urging a potentially habit-forming, psychoactive drug on an economically stressed, overworked workforce, would seem to be a symptom, at the minimum, of a pharmaceutical industry gone awry. Shouldn’t we instead be figuring out how to reduce the occupational health risks of work schedules?

About one in every 10 U.S. children is living with asthma — that’s closing in on 7 million kids. And while we have a good handle on what triggers asthma attacks and exacerbates respiratory symptoms, exactly what causes asthma in the first place is still somewhat of a mystery. However, new research points to some possible new culprits that are difficult, if not nearly impossible, to avoid.

For eight years, Dora worked at a frozen pizza factory in Romeoville, Illinois, called Great Kitchens. For eight hours a day — sometimes seven days a week — she assembled pizza boxes or arranged cheese and other toppings on pizzas. The consequences of years of such repetitive work surfaced in October 2012, when her hands would go numb and a painful cyst formed on her left wrist. She told her supervisor about the problem, but he said he couldn’t do anything about it — Dora was a temporary worker hired through a staffing agency and so Great Kitchens wasn’t responsible for addressing her injury.

Forget pink or blue. It turns out that the best color for baby may be green. In a new study, researchers found that mothers living in neighborhoods with plenty of greenness — grass, trees and other types of lush vegetation — were more likely to carry their pregnancies to full term and deliver babies at healthier weights.

During the past year, not one state experienced a decrease in adult obesity rates and, in fact, six states are home to even higher rates than before, according to a new report released today.

After nearly a decade of hoping state legislators would pass an earned paid sick time law, advocates in Massachusetts decided it was time to put the question to voters. Now, in November, voters will have the chance to help improve the lives of nearly 1 million workers who can’t earn one, single hour of sick leave and are often left to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one, paying the bills or losing a job.

Next time someone asks you what exactly public health does, repeat this number: 4.3 million. That’s the number of women — mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, grandmothers, daughters and friends — who might have otherwise gone without timely breast and cervical cancer screenings if it weren’t for public health and its commitment to prevention.

Next time you pass a tree, you might want to give it a second thought. Maybe even a hug. One day, that tree might just help save your life.

Occupational Health News Roundup

McDonald’s ruling could be a major turning point for the fast food worker movement; federal commission clarifies rules for pregnant workers; miners with black lung may have been wrongly denied benefits; and a new OSHA whistleblower partnership is launched to support commercial carrier workers.