News Roundup: Fatalities, Opioids, Extreme Heat, 33 Minutes of History & More

August 28th, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

Bucking the trend – There is good news in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2012: Worker fatalities in 2012 was the second lowest preliminary total since the census was first conducted in 1992. A preliminary total of 4,383 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2012, down from a revised count
of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011. But bucking this positive trend, there were a few troubling indicators:

  • Fatal work injuries involving workers under 16 years of age nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012–the highest total since 2005
  • Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector increased 5 percent
  • Fatal work injuries in the private mining sector rose in 2012, led by an increase in fatal injuries to workers in oil and gas extraction industries. Fatal work injuries in oil and gas extraction industries rose 23 percent to 138 in 2012, reaching a new high for the series

Opioids Research – An article by Richard Victor of WCRI is featured in CFOFive Ways to Curb Workplace Drug Risks – “Significantly reducing the use of unnecessary narcotics in the treatment of injured workers is the task of all stakeholders in the workers’ compensation system: employers, labor, physicians, hospitals, insurers and public policymakers. But reforming a statutory system like workers compensation takes time. Fortunately, employers can take some beneficial actions immediately. A look at the latest research provides the insight needed for all to do the right thing. The WCRI study, Longer-Term Use of Opioids, identified a number of states where workers were most likely to be taking opioids long after their injury.” Also see: Preliminary data from Joe Paduda’s Opioids in Workers’ Comp survey.
Healthcare violence – NIOSH offers free free on-line Violence Prevention Training for Nurses. NIOSH partnered with nursing and labor organizations, academic groups, other government agencies, and Vida Health Communications to develop the training, which incorporates text and videos depicting workplace violence incidents, testimonials from real nurses, and module quizzes. Nurses can also receive free continuing education credits for completing the online course. The course has 13 units that take approximately 15 minutes each to complete.
Extreme Heat – What links these workers: a Medford, Massachusetts US Postal Service employee; a farm worker in Tulare County, California; an employee of a plumbing and HVAC company in Louisiana; a landscaping company employee in Wisconsin; a construction worker in Indiana; a recycling company employee in New York City, and a spa employee in New Jersey? They all died of heat exposure this summer while on-the-job. OSHA lists 16 possible heat fatalities between June 6 and July 26, 2013, when a heat wave engulfed much of the US. OSHA says that heat has killed, on average, more than 30 workers a year since 2003. Elizabeth Grossman posts
Heat Kills: As temperatures climb, workers succumb to heat at The Pump Handle.
Foreign-born workers – Peter Rousmaniere makes the case for cultural competence in healthcare facilities in his post about foreign-born workers in in Risk & Insurance: “Foreign-born workers (including legal and undocumented) comprised about one-tenth of the country’s workforce in 1990. Today, they amount to about 17 percent, and are more widely distributed geographically. The rise in immigrant labor has resulted in heightened work injury risk, which is complicated by language and legality issues.”
Journalism and ethics – Pia Christensen of the Association of Health Care Journalists’ blog posts how journalists were taken aback by AP’s tweets about pharmaceutical company: “Journalists on Twitter were surprised, even dismayed, on Tuesday when tweets from The Associated Press prompted followers to “Visit AstraZeneca’s YouTube channel.”
Intoxication and Workers CompNew Hampshire Court Outlines Drunk Defense in Workers’ Comp Claims – intoxication must be determined to be the cause of an accident for it to be a defense against a workers’ compensation claim. Roberto Ceniceros discusses more on this case at Comp Time and raises some additional issues. He notes that the claimant’s argument was that the employer should have known he was drunk because he is an alcoholic. The claimant is now also a quadriplegic as a result of the accident.
More news briefs below, but first we thought we would offer this newly restored documentary of seismic events from 50 years ago today: The March – 33 minutes of truly remarkable history.

Workers Comp and other news briefs: