Friday, January 15, 2016

Employers in states with legalized marijuana use have ‘limited tolerance,’ survey shows

Workers in states that have legalized marijuana should think twice before smoking the drug. A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management indicates many employers have continued a zero-tolerance policy. More than 4 out of 5 organizations with operations in states where recreational and medical marijuana use is legal bar workers from using the drug, survey respondents reported. Eleven percent of employers had exceptions for medical use. Two-fifths of respondents said their organization can subject employees to marijuana drug testing after an incident occurs, and one-quarter reported that all employees are subject to marijuana drug testing throughout employment – regardless of whether an incident occurred. About half of respondents said first-time violators of substance policies were terminated. “While marijuana use is legal in some states, it remains illegal under federal law,” Evren Esen, SHRM director of survey programs, said in a press release. “Substance use, disciplinary and hiring policies are all influenced by employers’ limited tolerance of marijuana use.” Marijuana is legal in 19 states for medical use only, and in four states and the District of Columbia for medical and recreational use. The drug can lead to impaired body movement and difficulty with problem-solving in the short-term, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states. Although the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the marijuana plant as medicine, it has approved medications containing synthetic marijuana chemicals. Additionally, research has indicated marijuana is effective in relieving symptoms of several diseases, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Blood-lead levels in working adults have dropped, NIOSH report shows

The prevalence of employed adults with high levels of lead in their blood has fallen since the mid-1990s, according to a new NIOSH report. NIOSH and 41 state health departments collected blood-lead level data on working adults from 1994 to 2012. The rate of adults with blood-lead levels equal to or greater than 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood dropped to 5.7 employed adults per 100,000 in 2012 from 14 in 1994. Among adults with levels at or greater than 10 µg/dL, the rate fell to 22.5 in 2012 from 26.6 in 2010. Most lead exposures are occupational in nature, according to the report. Between 2002 and 2012, occupational exposure accounted for nearly 95 percent of the annual proportion of blood-lead levels at or greater than 25 µg/dL in participating states. OSHA’s standards for lead set a permissible exposure limit at no greater than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour period. No safe blood-lead level has been identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results were published Oct. 23, 2015, in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.