The Ethiopian plane crash and its potential ramifications for aviation safety worldwide; tobacco product regulations; and help for employers whose workforces are affected by the opioid crisis. These were among the top stories featured on this week.

Number of OSHA fatality-related investigations at 10-year high

March 15, 2019

OSHA currently has the lowest number of health and safety inspectors in the agency’s 48-year history, according to an analysis of recent government data by the National Employment Law Project. Conversely, the number of OSHA investigations following work-related fatalities reached a 10-year high, climbing to 929 inspections in FY 2018, up almost 100 from the previous year. This is the single-largest increase in such investigations in a decade. 


NIOSH monitoring confirms metalworking fluids exposure concerns

March 15, 2019

A NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation report presented findings of an agency investigation at an engine machining plant where employees were exposed to metalworking fluids, or MWFs. The union representing the employees had requested the evaluation because of concerns that exposure to MWFs had caused respiratory symptoms and dermatitis among workers.


A FairWarning Story

Industries turn to Bracewell lobbyists to scuttle product safety rules

Myron Levin

March 15, 2019

Justin Miller was 16 when he took his first ride on a recreational off-highway vehicle, or ROV. He came home missing a hand. The powerful 1,100-pound machine tipped over and landed on the Northridge, California, teen, mangling his hand so severely that seven surgeries couldn’t save it. At the time of the accident in 2008, similar reports of gruesome injuries and deaths were piling up at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.


U.S. Army Corps to help investigate natural gas blast

March 14, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will be assisting the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its investigation of a fatal, Feb. 23, 2018, natural gas-fueled explosion in Dallas, Texas. The USACE began taking soil samples this week in the area of Espanola Drive and Durango Drive in Dallas, to help the NTSB evaluate the technical accuracy of the preliminary geotechnical assessment report.


Progress toward emergency braking tech in all cars is uneven

March 14, 2019

The new kid on the block – Tesla – is tops when it comes to equipping its vehicles with automatic emergency braking (AEB), although several other manufacturers aren’t far behind, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


Chili’s restaurant injury leads to citations, fines

March 14, 2019

An OSHA investigation into a worker’s burn injuries has led to safety citations issued to the operator of a Chili’s Grill and Bar restaurant in Florida. The employee of Brinker Florida Inc. suffered the injuries at the company’s Doral location when he fell from an unguarded platform into a hot water bath.


Lung Assoc. blames FDA for teen e-cigarette epidemic

March 14, 2019

The FDA is to blame for the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among the nation’s youths – and its latest proposal to fix the problem won’t accomplish much. That’s according to the American Lung Association (ALA), which is giving a thumbs-down to the FDA’s “Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products.” ALA president and CEO says the agency’s plan “falls far short” of what is needed to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.


3 workers develop lung disease; company cited

March 13, 2019

OSHA has cited Nemak USA Inc. – based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin – for exposing workers to metalworking fluids used on aluminum after three employees were diagnosed with occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a debilitating lung disease. The company faces penalties of $26,520 for two serious health violations, the maximum penalty allowed by law.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help employers combat opioid crisis

March 13, 2019

Small and midsize business owners who are struggling to find a way to address prescription drug misuse among their employees can get help from Sharing Solutions, an initiative just launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Said Carolyn Cawley, president of the Chamber Foundation; “Employer specific resources are thin, and they’re scattered. Our campaign collects and curates credible resources to help employers get what they need more quickly.”


FAA reverses course, grounds Boeing 737 model Max 8s

March 13, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will ground the type of aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday and a Lion Air accident in October, according to an announcement made today by President Donald Trump. The Ethiopian incident claimed the lives of 189 people while the Lion Air crash killed 346.


NTSB: Multiple pilot errors led to fatal Teterboro plane crash

March 13, 2019

A pilot’s failure to perform a go-around when his plane became unstable on its approach to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey caused the plane to stall at a law altitude and ultimately, to crash into a commercial building and parking lot about a half mile from the intended runway. Both pilots, the only occupants aboard the aircraft, died in the crash.


A NIOSH Science Blog post

Towards a biosocial approach to occupational safety and health

Michael Flynn

March 12, 2019

The integration of the social determinants of health paradigm by occupational and public health researchers and institutions is leading to a recognition of the need for a more holistic and nuanced perspective on work and its impact on population health (Ahonen et al 2018; Schulte and Vainio, 2010; WHO 2008). Fundamental to this transformation is the need to complement traditional approaches to occupational health with new conceptual and methodological perspectives that can better account for the social aspects of health and well-being.


Federal judge gives FDA tight deadline for tobacco warning rule

The agency "unreasonably delayed" action

March 12, 2019

The FDA has until March 15 to issue a final rule mandating that cigarette makers place graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and in advertising, a federal judge ruled last week. The order by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts was in response to a lawsuit filed in October 2016 by eight public health and medical groups and several individual pediatricians.


Experts warn proposed budget cuts would harm nation's public health

Slashing funds for programs "kicks the can of worsening American health down the road"

March 12, 2019

Public health experts are warning that the funding cuts outlined in President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request would weaken the nation’s ability to tackle health problems. “In a time where life expectancy is falling, our leadership should be investing in better health, not cutting federal health budgets,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA).


WHO launches new global influenza strategy

Currently there are a billion cases of flu worldwide a year

March 12, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released details of a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza, or flu. The goal is to prevent seasonal flu, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next flu pandemic.


OSHA wants to know all about your powered industrial trucks

March 11, 2019

OSHA is asking a lot of questions about powered industrial trucks – in an effort to gather information that may useful in a possible updating of standards for the vehicles. The standards became effective in 1971, and were based on industry consensus standards from 1969. Since then, national consensus standards have been updated several times.


Yo-yo dieting may increase women’s heart disease risk

March 11, 2019

Yo-yo dieting may make it harder for women to control a variety of heart disease risk factors, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2019, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in population-based cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.


How workplace discrimination impacts employee safety

Kayla Matthews

March 11, 2019

Workplace discrimination happens when employers treat employees differently due to factors like their race, age, gender or sexual orientation. There are federal laws against such treatment in the United States, but it still happens. And, many people initially feel surprised after learning of the link between workplace discrimination and reduced employee safety.


3 countries ground type of jet used in Ethiopian crash

March 11, 2019

After the second crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in two years, China, Ethiopia and Indonesia as well as Cayman Airways, a carrier that flies to the U.S. and Caribbean countries, have all suspended use of 737-8s. The move follows last week’s crash of an Ethiopian jet bound for Kenyway – an incident that occurred shortly after takeoff, just as a crash off Indonesia last year.