Occupational Health News Roundup

Earlier this month, a bill that would have provided medical benefits and compensation for 9/11 first responders passed the House but couldn't overcome a Republican filibuster. (Remember the old days of majority rule in the Senate, when 51 votes was enough to pass most legislation? We're in a different era now.)

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York have now made alterations to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and hope it will now be able to attract enough Republican votes. The overall cost of the bill has dropped from $7.4 billion to $6.2 billion as a result of the settlement reached last month with Ground Zero workers, and it will now be funded through a 2% excise fee on certain foreign companies receiving US government contracts and two other revenue-raising measures.

Senator Schumer's upbeat assessment is that "we believe we are on a path to victory by the end of this week." The bill's chances have probably been helped by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, who invited four first responders onto his show.

Update, 12/23: The Senate passed the bill by voice vote and the House passed it 206-60.

In other news:

The Oregonian: A judge has denied KBR's request for a review that could have stopped the lawsuit of 36 Oregon veterans who are suing the contractor over their exposure to hexavalent chromium while guarding KBR operations in Iraq.

McClatchy Newspapers: The Department of Veterans Affairs will consolidate claims related to water contamination at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, which many former base residents say is responsible for cancers and other diseases that have disabled them. (See this recent Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger story for more about the former Camp Lejeune residents who are searching for resolution.)

Sacramento Bee: The company that makes the Brazilian Blowout hair-smoothing treatment is suing the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which tested the product and found it to contain high levels of formaldehyde.

NIOSH: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is inviting public comment on its draft "Current Intelligence Bulletin: Occupational Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofibers"; the deadline for written comments is February 18, 2011.

EHS Today: Workers in the construction, delivery, utility, and public safety industries (among others) are exposed to cold for extended periods of time as they work outdoors. Knowing what precautions are necessary and how to identify and assist those suffering from frostbite and hypothermia is important.

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The Democrats have used the filibuster tactic when it suited their purposes also. The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, like most congressional bills lately, has a solid foundation and a good purpose but has become inflated. It opens the door for tremendous abuses in compensation claims. Is this the price we have to pay in order to do good?

This bill is good news to all 9/11 first responders. Finally our useless congress does something right.
However, I do not understand why is it that the first responders are not covered under workers comp?
Another major issue: why is it that they were allowed to work without proper protection? I thought OSHA was at ground zero monitoring health and safety issues.
Better planning would have protected workers and possibly fewer would not have to suffer through terrible health issues. They violated the 6 P rule
Proper planning prevents piss poor performance