News roundup: Health wonks, aging issues, apps, ACA, women & more items of note

June 20th, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

Health Wonkery – Sarah Sonies and Jennifer Salopek have posted Health Wonk Review: Rhetorical Question Edition at Wing of Zock, covering such topics as such topics as costs, insurance, policy, money, and more. Get your fix of health wonkery now – the next edition won’t be until mid-July.
Aging workforcePoor eyesight was the likely culprit in fatal 2012 train wreck. which claimed the lives of 3 Union Pacific crew members in Oklahoma. The driver – who repeatedly complained about his vision over the years – was one of the fatalities. Among his complaints: “… the engineer suffered from glaucoma and cataracts for much of his life, and in the three years leading up to the crash, he made about 50 visits to eye doctors and underwent about a dozen procedures. He had even complained about not being able to distinguish between the red and green stop and go signals that govern train traffic.” The National Transportation Safety Board determined that poor eyesight was the probable cause of the collision. “The board also proposed 16 safety recommendations for the railroad industry, unions and oversight agencies. Many of the recommendations deal with beefing up the frequency and quality of medical screenings for workers who have safety-sensitive positions. It also proposed implementing a workplace culture in which safety is placed above silence.”
There’s an App for That – NIOSH recently announced a new Ladder Safety smart phone app, saying that “This new app uses visual and audio signals to make it easier for workers using extension ladders to check the angle the ladder is positioned at, as well as access useful tips for using extension ladders safely.” it’s free and available for iPhone and Android devices.
Health Reform updates – For health reform updates with a slant to the impact on workers comp, you can’t do better for a guide than our friend Joe Paduda’s informed commentary on his blog, Managed Care Matters. His most recent post on the topic: Implementing health reform, random report 1. If this is an issue on your radar, check back with him often.
Health Care Innovation – We’re fans of Dr. Atul Gawande on this blog so we were pleased to learn that he is launching a health care innovation lab. If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Gawande, this excerpt from the link offers a bit of insight: “Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has been named one of the world’s most influential thinkers. The surgical checklist he promotes has been gaining traction worldwide since 2008, when it’s use in a World Health Organization project reduced deaths during surgery by nearly 50 percent. The list is a set of questions everyone in an operating room answers, starting with: Do we have the correct patient? What operation are we performing? And is the site marked?” We look forward to developments. (Hat tip to Tinker Ready for the pointer – her Boston Health News blog is worth keeping an eye on.)
Women & comp – At CompTime, Roberto Ceniceros has a post on Working moms and workers compensation, citing a recent Pew Research Report on “Breadwinner Moms.” The implications of the report are significant, Ceniceros notes, because according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health “women face different workplace health challenges than men.”
Massachusetts employers take note – Employment law attorneys Paul G Lannon and Matthew Mitchell post that Massachusetts employers may be liable to out-of-state employees misclassified as independent contractors on JDSupra Law News. They look at a decision issued May 17, 2013, Taylor v. Eastern Connecticut Operating, Inc.. They offer several lessons employers should take from this ruling – first and foremost being awareness that Massachusetts independent contractor and overtime pay statutes may apply to non-residents working outside the state.
Lead-poisoned workers – At The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton provides accumulating evidence that thousands of workers are poioned by lead each year, and a preponderance of those who are sickened are hispanic workers. The exposure is highest in battery manufacturing, secondary smelting/refining non-ferrous metals, and painting. She cites recent related cases from OSHA inspections and violations as well as a recent report by the California Department of Public Health, along with the most recent national assessment.
More on Lab Safety – Following up on yesterday’s post about academic lab safety, we point to this article in Chemistry World on Laboratory Safety Goes Digital. The article talks more about the Dow Lab Safety Academy.
From the “Bad Idea” file – Reports from Japan say that some companies are using banishment rooms as an alternative to termination.
More news of note

NIOSH issues a video alert on counterfeit and altered respirators