New York City may ban those after-hours work emails, congressional funding for public health programs gets a nod of approval and regulatory moves on premium cigars and e-cigarettes don’t. These were among the top stories featured on this week.

A NIOSH Science Blog post

Workplace safety communications campaigns should be driven by employer, industry, workflow, and culture

Jennifer P. Alexander MSW, MPH Julianne Payne PhD Sydney Webb PhD Stephanie Pratt PhD Rebecca Olsavsky MS David Fosbroke MSF

March 30, 2018

Employees who drive for work face significant roadway risks, and motor vehicle crashes can devastate families, communities, and organizations. Crashes are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, with 1,252 deaths of vehicle drivers and passengers on public roads in 2016. In 2013, on-the-job crashes cost employers over $25 billion and led to 155,000 lost work days. Despite the human and financial costs of crashes, only 24 percent of employers offer occupational health services as part of their wellness programs.

A ProPublica / Santa Fe New Mexican article

Trump’s Labor Department eviscerates workplace safety panels

Rebecca Moss

March 29, 2018

Five expert committees advised the federal government on ways to improve workplace safety and enhance whistleblower protections. Under President Donald Trump, their work has stopped and their recommendations are now stalled.

Miners with years of experience fall victim to fatal accidents

March 29, 2018

Two mining fatalities in mid-March show how dangerous the industry can be even for experienced workers who are aware of the hazards involved. On March 14, 2018, a 56-year old crusher maintenance worker was killed while installing discharge chutes on the screen deck. The man – who had 15 years’ experience - sustained a traumatic head injury when a suspended chute shifted and struck him.

Major health groups sue FDA over delay in reviewing e-cigarettes

Health experts charge that delay keeps kid-friendly tobacco products on the market for years

March 29, 2018

Seven public health and medical groups, and several individual pediatricians, filed suit today in federal court in Maryland challenging a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision that allows electronic cigarettes and cigars – including candy-flavored products that appeal to kids – to stay on the market for years without being reviewed by the agency.

NYC considering ban on after-work work emails

March 29, 2018

A bill proposed in New York City would prohibit employers from emailing or texting their workers during non-work hours. The effects of an increasingly connected workplace have been a frequent focus of psychological studies.

How to keep MSDs from affecting your company’s productivity

March 29, 2018

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) may not make the headlines like more dramatic injuries do, but they nonetheless have a considerable –and negative – impact on companies’ bottom lines. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in 2013, MSD cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases. Work related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.

Info that can make operating heavy equipment safer

March 29, 2018

Safely operating large, potentially dangerous construction and agricultural equipment can be challenging. Information that enhances training and usage can help reduce the risks of working with such equipment. One source of information about equipment safety is the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which has resources available to both its 900+ members and to the general public.

CDC program helps smaller companies invest in employee health

March 28, 2018

Small- to mid-size employers participating in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program increased their investment in evidence-based interventions to improve worker health, according to a study in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Laurie Cluff, PhD, of RTI International and colleagues report an evaluation of the CDC’s National Healthy Worksite Program (NHWP).

3 workers fall 1,000 feet from comm tower

March 28, 2018

A Texas-based contractor faces $12,934 in proposed penalties after three of its employees suffered fatal injuries while attempting to install a new antenna on a communications tower in Miami. That total corresponds to $4,311 per worker. The incident involving Tower King II Inc. occurred in a Miami suburb on Sept. 27, 2017.

Public health experts happy with the 2018 U.S. budget

March 28, 2018

Congress did right by public health in the FY 2018 budget it passed recently, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA). “By increasing funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and other health agencies, Congress has shown its commitment to improving the health of all communities and investing in activities that keep our country healthy and safe,” according to a statement released by the organization.

An NTSB Safety Compass blog post

Most Wanted List progress report: Rail safety

Robert L. Sumwalt

March 28, 2018

On November 14, 2017, the day before our Most Wanted List (MWL) progress meeting, we concluded our investigation into the April 2016 Amtrak train derailment in Chester, Pennsylvania. As I offer the closing words of this blog series highlighting the progress made to address issues on our list, the NTSB is presently investigating the December 2017 Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, Washington, and the February 2018 Amtrak train and CSX freight train collision near Cayce, South Carolina.

Waterpark owner, operator charged with murder in connection with boy’s death

March 27, 2018

The co-owner and operator of a Kansas waterpark face murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child charges in the death of ten-year-old Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated on a water slide in 2016. Jeffrey Wayne Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts in Kansas City, Kansas was arrested yesterday in Texas and held without bond, pending his extradition to Kansas to face charges.

Many people with high cholesterol not getting treatment

March 27, 2018

Less than 40 percent of people with severe elevations in cholesterol are being prescribed appropriate drug treatment, according to a nationally representative study reported in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation. Data from the 1999-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was used to estimate prevalence rates of self-reported screening, awareness and statin therapy among U.S. adults age 20 and older with severely elevated LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels of 190 mg/dL or higher.

Ala. roofing workers exposed to 28’ falls

March 27, 2018

Being cited seven times in the past five years for safety violations apparently has not made an impression on Jose A. Serrato. The independent roofing contractor based in Marietta, Georgia has again been cited by OSHA for exposing his workers to fall hazards – this time at a worksite in Birmingham. Current proposed penalties total $133,604.

Sleep deprived workers are bad for business

March 27, 2018

Insomnia is costing U.S. companies more than $63 billion a year, according to a new white paper that examines the toll that insufficient sleep takes on safety and productivity at work. Entitled Sick, Unsafe, and Unproductive: Poor Employee Sleep Is Bad for Business, the publication from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)  notes that sleep is a basic biological need, and getting less than seven hours of it a night (for the average person) can have serious detrimental consequences for an individuals’ long-term health, safety, and performance.

Leaks may be behind natural gas blast that killed teen

March 26, 2018

A natural gas explosion that killed a 12-year-old girl and injured four others in Dallas earlier this year wasn’t the only one that rocked that neighborhood, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the incidents.

Funding for OSHA, NIOSH, MSHA & CSB stays the same

March 26, 2018

They won’t be getting an increase, but federal worker safety agencies will not, at least, see the slashes in funding that some were predicting. The FY 2018 budget passed by Congress recently maintains funding for OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) at 2017 levels.

Worker’s size blamed for his death

March 26, 2018

Sturdy new fiberglass railing were installed in a New York City subway tunnel last week - the day after one collapsed, sending a worker to his death. Killed in the nine foot fall from a local track to an express track was 23-year-old St. Clair Zaire Stephens Richards, who had six months on the job, according to news reports.

FDA may exempt premium cigars from regulations

March 26, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps that may exempt premium cigars from tobacco regulation – a move that is angering the American Heart Association. By asking for more information about the high end cigars, the AHA’s CEO Nancy Brown said the FDA is “sending mixed messages on tobacco regulation.”