DOL Grants to Aid Disabled
Department of Labor (DOL) has announced 25 grants totaling $8.1 million to help
workers with disabilities access services offered at One-Stop Career Centers
across the United States. The grants are designed to enhance the delivery
of service by the DOL centers. Grant recipients will focus on using
"navigators", specially trained staff members who will ensure that clients with
disabilities have access to available employment and training tools. The
government's efforts in this regard are part of a wide-ranging program known as
New Freedom Initiative to recognize the employment potential of Americans with
The One-Stop Career Centers,
established in 1998, offer a variety of resources for those seeking work.
Among them are:
To learn more about
the centers, including their locations, visit
State-by State Comp Stats
The Work Loss Data
Institute (WLDI) has published its 2004 State Report Cards for Workers' Comp,
which offers a rating of state-by-state workers' compensation performance.
It is intended to provide valuable information for employers, insurers, state
governments, and consultants.
The report found
that the state with the most improved workers' comp performance between 2002 and
2003 was Alabama. Other states that ranked high were Utah, Indiana,
Minnesota, Georgia, Iowa, and Virginia. A variety of outcomes were
reviewed, including prevention and safety efforts, return-to-work, and
disability durations. To review the entire report, visit
OSHA, Disaster Cleanup Company
teamed up with one of the nation's largest disaster restoration companies to
further the safety and health of workers in the construction and restoration
industries. BELFOR USA, Part of a global business that provides property
recovery services throughout North America, signed an alliance with the agency.
The agreement will concentrate on a variety of health and safety issues, and
will focus on increasing access to worker protection information for employees
with limited or no English-speaking capability.
BELFOR and OSHA will create and
disseminate training and education programs on mold removal practices, personal
protective equipment, and safe driving. The programs are intended to
benefit employees of BELFOR as well as other restoration businesses. The
participants will spread the word through the media, including their respective
websites, and will work together on creation of a Web-based motor vehicle
43 offices and 1,400 employees across the country.
OSHA Unveils New Whistleblower
month launched a whistleblower program page on its website to provide a single
source for detailed information on the laws that include whistleblower
protection that is administered by the agency. The page consolidates a
variety of information previously available elsewhere on the site, plus access
to other resources. Direct links are provided to the 14 laws with
whistleblower protections administered by OSHA; procedures for handling
complaints under the various statues are included as well. Details about
filing workplace discrimination complaints are provided, as is direct access to
five separate OSHA fact sheets on the whistleblower program.
responsibilities have expanded from one segment of the OSH Act to a total of 14
laws. The latest are the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act
of 2002 and the pipeline Safety improvement Act of 2002.
California State's Paid Medical
Leave Program Now Under Way
As of July 1, employees could begin
taking advantage of the Paid Family Leave Law in California. For more
Californians, it means 6 weeks of partial pay when leaving work to care for a
seriously ill parent, spouse, child, or domestic partner, or to bond with a new
baby or a foster or adopted child. The provisions go beyond the federal
Family Medical Leave Act, which grants 12 weeks of unpaid family leave to
eligible employees at large companies.
In California, the benefits will be
employee-funded through the State Disability Insurance program. Employees
can collect up to 55 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $728 per week,
while caring for loved ones. Full-and part-time workers are eligible, and
the 6 weeks off do not have to be taken consecutively. For the most part,
however, the program does not protect jobs, which the federal act does.
The leave program was backed by
labor, but was opposed by many in the business community, including the
California Chamber of Commerce. They believe it will provide an
inhospitable business climate and burden employers with paperwork and possible
CDC Warns of Surge In Asbestosis
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) says deaths from asbestos exposure will continue to rise over
the next 10 years. In 2000, the number of Americans who succumbed to
asbestosis, a disease caused by inhalation of asbestos particles rose to 1,493,
compared with 77 cases in 1968.
The condition, which results in
shortness of breath and persistent cough and is linked to a higher risk of
cancer, is now considered the deadliest of all occupational respiratory
conditions. CDC reviewed death certificates of some 125,000 people and
lung conditions linked to inhaling dust or fibers.
Although asbestos use was curbed
starting in the late 1970s, cases are surging now because asbestos-related
illnesses can take up to 45 years from exposure to death. Because its
resistance to heat and its good insulation properties, asbestos was used in
shipyards and construction sites. Use increased following World War II and
peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Associated Press quotes Forest
Horne, a lawyer representing asbestosis patients: "What you've got are
folks in their 60s and 70s who might otherwise live longer, but because of the
damage to their lung tissue, it leads to an early death. We're paying the
price now for the use of this mineral in almost every construction insulation
product used" from the 1930s through the 1970s. Asbestos is still present
in some factories and buildings across the United States.
Grant Recipients to Investigate
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A 5-yeart, $2.5 million grant from
NIOSH may help employers determine which employees are more likely to get carpal
tunnel syndrome and other hand, wrist and extremity ailments.
Approximately 2 out of every 1,000 workers each year will experience the painful
condition, which can lead to significant medical costs and lost workdays.
The study will be conducted by researchers at the Washington University School
of Medicine in St. Louis, and will be led by Dr. Bradley A. Evanoff.
Evanoff and his colleagues plan to
look at the cost-effectiveness of screening workers for pre-existing
abnormalities of the median nerve and keeping them out of high-force manual
tasks. They will also study how personal risk factors and job related
exposures contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. "This study will provide
guidance to employers and employees in deciding what policies and practices will
best prevent this common and disabling condition," Evanoff suggests.
Asleep at the Wheel
According to the Federal Highway
Administration, you know you risk falling asleep while driving if:
Your eyes close or go out of focus
You have trouble keeping your head
You can't stop yawning
You have wandering, disconnected
You don't remember driving the last
You drift between lanes, tailgate or
miss traffic signs
You have to jerk the car back into
You drift off the road and narrowly
If you experience any of the above
signs, get off the road right away and take a nap?