Thursday, December 13, 2018

Recreational Marijuana Legalization

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Medical Marijuana Legalization

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Winter Safety Tips

The winter season presents a new set of safety challenges. These tips will help you be ready for what the season brings.

1) Take Outdoor Precautions

One of the most important things to do in the winter months is wear appropriate outdoor clothing. Layers of clothing, a coat, mittens, scarves, and waterproof boots will help with wind and other winter elements.

2) Shovel Safely

Shoveling is one of the most dangerous outdoor winter activities. Shoveling causes thousands of injuries and has been responsible for as many as 100 deaths a year. Make sure to warm-up with some stretching or walking before shoveling. Keeping some cat litter or rock salt on hand can also help to melt ice on walkways. Shoveling smaller amounts of snow at a time, pushing the snow instead of lifting it and using proper technique with a straight back and lifting with the legs is also key. Check out more tips from the National Safety Council.

3) Prepare Car

Check road conditions before leaving the house and make sure your car has been recently inspected to make sure it is in good condition to handle the elements. Keep your gas tank at least half full and increase following distance while driving.

4) Prepare in Advance for Emergencies

With the winter months come the dangers such as snow storms and power outages. Making sure you have an up to date emergency kit that includes: batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, water bottles, and foods that don't require cooking.

5) Know the Symptoms of Frostbite and Hypothermia

Signs of Hypothermia include shivering or shaking, lack of coordination, drowsiness or confusion, and slurred speech. Frostbite symptoms are very cold skin turning numb, hard, and pale, blisters or swelling, and joint or muscle stiffness. Seek medical attention if these symptoms occur.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

OSHA Levels Heavy Fine for Silica Standard Violation

During the first six months of implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)'s new silica standard, inspectors have issued 116 citation. The highest silica related fine is $304,130 that has been proposed to a Virginia based contractor, Lanford Brothers Co, for five violations.

1. Not Ensuring Proper Protective Eye wear Was Worn by Employees

When employees do not wear protective eye wear, they are exposed to flying debris. In this case, the employees were wearing sunglasses instead of approved protective eye wear. This violation was considered serious and the proposed fine was $8,065

2. Not Providing Employees With Proper Silica Exposure Training

Employers should inform employees of all potential hazards in a work environment. They should also be trained in how to avoid exposure and the dangers of silica exposure such as Silicosis- deadly lung disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. This is also a serious fine proposed at $8.065.

3. Not Complying with Proper Silica Removal Methods

The company did not use wet methods while using jackhammers for concrete removal without proper respiratory protection. This violation was considered willful-serious with a proposed $96,000 fine.

4. Not Assessing the Employees Potential Exposure to Silica Dust

By not evaluating the potential exposure, the contractor received another $96,000 willful-serious proposed fine.

5. Not Providing Adequate Respiratory Protection and Medical Evaluation for Employees.

The workers on the site had not been FIT tested, had facial hair that did not comply with OSHA standards, and not completed any medical evaluations before exposure to silica. This was also a $96,000 willful-serious penalty.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Fall Safety Tips

As the weather changes, keep in mind some of the safety issues that come with the change in seasons. These tips will help you start off the season on a safer note.

1) Drive Carefully

Fall brings more driving hazards, wet pavement, darker roads earlier, falling leaves, and condensation. Take extra care when driving and allow for more time to get to destinations.

2) Service Furnace

Before the cold winter weather sets in, make sure to call your heating and cooling company to service your furnace. The technician will check for leaks and ensure that it is in working order.

3) Clear Walkways

Falling leaves and wet pavement doesn't just apply to the roads, your walkways are at risk too.

4) Flu Prevention

Protect your health. Get a flu shot, make sure to clean communal spaces, avoid contact with those who are sick, and try and stick to a healthy diet and exercise. Also practice frequent hand washing, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you get sick.

5) Test and Replace Batteries

The clocks "fall back" this season. With the time change it's also a great time to check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

5 Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

1) Get a Flu Shot

This is the best defense available against the flu.

2) Practice Frequent Hand Washing.

Hand washing should occur after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, being with ill people, and especially before you eat.

3) Avoid Contact With People Who Are Sick.

Flu transmission can happen via many different points of contact. For example if someone you come into contact with is starting to get sick avoid contact like shaking hands, and keep your hands away from your face so that viruses do not invade the mucus membranes in your nose, eyes, and mouth.

4) Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.

Eat right, exercise regularly, and get an adequate amount of sleep. Monitor your stress levels and try and take steps to reduce them.

5) Clean Communal Areas Frequently.

Keeping your surroundings clean can Spaces like telephones, desks, doorknobs, shopping cart handles, kitchen counters and computer keyboards should be wiped regularly with disinfecting wipes or solutions. Dispose of tissues used for coughs and sneezes immediately and appropriately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's Time to Consider Updating Your Marijuana Policy

27 states have now legalized some degree of medical marijuana. With this legalization comes the challenge of figuring out how to accommodate employees while dealing with the safety and health implications. Here are some steps that can be taken.

1) Plan out a strategy on how to enforce or accommodate medical marijuana use. There are two routes most employers can take. 1) Banning marijuana in the work place. Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, federal regulations allow for employers to prohibit despite different state regulations. 2) Allowing medical marijuana with restrictions. Employees may argue for their right to use the substance off-duty as prescribed, but since employer policies can trump state laws, it is important that you communication expectations to employees. If a company does decide to allow medical marijuana usage, it is important to add a medical marijuana policy as well. Employees should report changes to the product, dosage, frequency, scheduled use or route of administration they are prescribed. Employers should then create rules such as: documentation of workers medical conditions, compare schedule of use to work schedule, and outline the responsibilities of both the employer and employee (ex: mandatory reporting). Employers should also work with a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to verify the legitimacy of the prescription.

2) Make Sure Your Policy is in Writing. Is it really a policy if it is not in writing? Policies should include knowledge of state and federal laws and also be reviewed at least once a year.

3) Put a Drug Testing and Employee Assistance Program into Place. Drug testing commonly happens before companies hire an employee, after an incident, and with reasonable suspicion.

4) Education. As important as the other steps are, you must make employees knowledgeable about the company policy on medical marijuana in order for it to be effective.

To learn more click HERE and HERE

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dangerous New Drug Trend "Wasping" Emerges

Authorities around the country are starting to see signs of dangerous new drug trend called "wasping". "Wasping" is an abuse of the active components in insect killer, most commonly wasp killer spray, to achieve a high. In most cases it has been found to be abused in combination with methamphetamines or used as a meth substitute. According to ABC News, "The active ingredient in pesticides is a class of molecules known as pyrethroids, which penetrate the insect’s nervous system. In insects, pyrethroids stun and then kill. In humans, they block normal nerve signaling, causing abnormal sensation and, in the worst cases, seizures or even paralysis." Additional extreme physical responses to wasping have been reported. Side effects include: respiratory failure or paralysis, headache, nausea, incoordination, tremors, facial flushing and swelling and burning and itching sensations. Large scale side effects and toxins have yet to be seen as this a relatively new trend. The main concern comes from the known warnings on the wasp killer spray: the product is dangerous when inhaled. Insect killer is known to have lead to severe illness in approximately 4 to 14 percent of inhalation cases and on rare occasion, it can lead to death in people with pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma. Adding these risks with methanphetamines, which already cause psychotic behaviors, paranoia, and even violence can cause even more risk. Read more HERE and HERE

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cuyahoga County, Ohio Seeing Concerning Trends in Drug Overdoses

In early August 2018, Cuyahoga County, Ohio saw 14 people die from drug overdoses in a span of five days. Between August 2nd and August 6th the youngest person to overdose was 21 years old, the oldest one was 72 years old. Out of the 14 people 50% of them were 60 or older. Considering that the largest population of overdose victims typically ranges from 45-55 years old and that overdose deaths in Cuyahoga county in 2018 are projected to reach 727 deaths, this large amount of deaths in a short period of time is concerning to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office. "This is a concerning trend. The county is working with our local and federal partners to analyze it and identify its source," said Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Large Employers Seeing an Increase in Cost to Treat Worker Opioid Misuse

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Family Foundation, large employers are currently experience a large increase in costs related to treating opioid addiction and overdoses for workers and their families. This comes despite a decrease in opioid prescriptions and overall opioid use being down. The cost of treatment is rising as well, the annual inpatient cost for opioid addiction treatment averaged $16,104 in 2016 up from $5,809 in 2006. "About four in ten people addicted to opioids are covered by private health insurance and Medicaid covers a similarly large share. Despite declining rates of opioid prescribing to those with employer coverage, spending on treatment for opioid addiction and overdose has increased rapidly, potentially tied to growing illicit use and increased awareness of opioid addiction. Opioid addiction and overdose treatment – the bulk of which is for dependents of employees – represents a small but growing share of overall employer health spending," the study states. Read the full study HERE.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Positive Drug Tests Remain at 13-year High for U.S. Worker

After analyzing more than 10 million drug tests, Quest Diagnostics released their annual Drug Testing Index, which revealed that workforce drug positivity is at its highest rate in a decade. 4.2 percent of the combined U.S. workforce tested positive in 2017. These findings also showed increases in cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine use. Marijuana positivity was up the most in states with new legalization statutes. While cocaine and methamphetamine use increased, prescription opiates have seen a decline.

“It’s unfortunate that we mark 30 years of the Drug-Free Workplace Act with clear evidence that drugs continue to invade the country’s workplaces,” Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics, said in the report. “Not only have declines appeared to have bottomed out, but also in some drug classes and areas of the country drug positivity rates are increasing. These changing patterns and geographical variations may challenge the ability of employers to anticipate the ‘drug of choice’ for their workforce or where to best focus their drug prevention efforts to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.”

Read the Quest Diagnostics report on the findings here.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Benzodiazepines: the new drug crisis?

While our country faces the harsh realities of the opioid epidemic, benzodiazepines are also emerging as popular drugs of abuse. Bloomberg dubbed benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos,” as American’s next big drug problem, citing that prescriptions have increased nearly 70% this century. Last month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that more than 30% of opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines. These drugs are not opioids. Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. If taken over time, people can develop a tolerance to these sedatives, introducing the potential for symptoms like panic attacks to worsen, The Chicago Tribune. Benzodiazepine prescriptions have been steadily climbing over the past 2 decades. Dr. Anna Lembke, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with the Stanford University School of Medicine, is studying the relationship between prescription drugs and addiction and published her latest findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. She said, “These are highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs, and many people don’t know that. Sadly, most physicians are also unaware of this and blithely prescribe them without educating their patients about the risk of addiction.” The data showed that overdoses involving benzodiazepines multiplied 7-fold between 1999 and 2015, increasing from 1,135 to 8,791 deaths. Dr. Lembke advises working with a physician to taper off long-term benzodiazepine use in a safe way. Patient education and awareness about the proper use of benzodiazepines can help to prevent future substance-use disorders. Physicians, law enforcement, and lawmakers also continue to examine trends, study health data, patrol the illicit drug trade, and monitor overprescribing.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Number of Drivers Who Die While Under the Influence of Drugs Rises

A new study finds the number of drivers fatally injured in automobile accidents who tested positive for one or more substances is rising, according to U.S. News & World Report. The study, by the Governors Highway Safety Association, found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers with known test results tested positive for drugs in 2016, up from 28 percent a decade earlier. More than half of the drivers had marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two in their system, the study found. Thirty-eight percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent tested positive for opioids and 4 percent tested positive for both. Among the drivers tested for alcohol, 37.9 percent tested positive in 2016, down from 41 percent in 2006. MAY 31, 2018 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rise in Drug Overdose Deaths Contributes to Increase in Organ Transplants

A new study finds the rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States has contributed to an increase in organ transplants, CNN reports. Overdose death donors accounted for 1.1 percent of donors in 2000 and 13.4 percent in 2017, representing a 24-fold rise, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study also found many organs from overdose-death donors were not used to save lives when they could have been. “The current epidemic of deaths from overdose is a tragedy. It would also be tragic to continue to underutilize life-saving transplants from donors,” said lead researcher Dr. Christine Durand of Johns Hopkins University. “We have an obligation to optimize the use of all organs donated. The donors, families and patients waiting deserve our best effort to use every gift of life we can.” APRIL 19, 2018 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April is Alcohol Awareness Month "One in Six American Adults Binge Drink"

One in six American adults—37 million—binge drink about once a week, a new study finds. They average seven drinks per binge, HealthDay reports. In 2015, American adults consumed more than 17 billion binge drinks, according to the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others,” study co-author Dr. Robert Brewer said in a CDC news release. “The findings also show the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to prevent binge drinking, focusing on reducing both the number of times people binge drink and the amount they drink when they binge.” The findings appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Deaths Due to Drug Use Rose More than 600 Percent in 35 Years

A new study of every county in the United States finds deaths due to drug use increased more than 600 percent between 1980 and 2014. Almost 550,000 deaths were attributed to drug use over the study’s 35 years. In some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and eastern Oklahoma, increases in drug-related deaths exceeded 5,000 percent, according to ABC News. The study did not distinguish between illegal and prescription drugs. Death rates decreased for alcohol use disorders, self-harm, and interpersonal violence at the national level between 1980 and 2014, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “To our knowledge, this study is the first at the county level to consider drug use disorders and distinguish between intentional and unintentional overdoses,” lead researcher Dr. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a news release. MARCH 15, 2018 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF

Friday, February 16, 2018

Meth Makes a Comeback Around the Country

Meth is making a comeback around the country, say experts who note the drug is more pure, cheap and deadly than ever. Although the number of domestic meth labs has greatly decreased, agents at the U.S. border are seizing 10 to 20 times the amounts of meth they did a decade ago, The New York Times reports. In the early 2000s, domestic labs made meth from the decongestant pseudoephedrine. In 2005, Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Act, which made it more difficult to purchase pseudoephedrine. In response, Mexican drug cartels stepped up production. There is now so much pure, low-cost meth that dealers are offering the drug on credit, the article notes. Little is being done to combat the increase in meth because it has been overshadowed by the opioid crisis, according to public health experts. There is no drug to reverse meth overdoses, or drug treatments to reduce meth cravings. FEBRUARY 15, 2018 BY PARTNERSHIP NEWS SERVICE STAFF

Thursday, February 8, 2018

FDA Calls Kratom An Opioid

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the supplement known as “kratom” is an opioid and has been linked with 44 deaths, The Washington Post reports. Kratom, an unregulated botanical substance, is used by some people to relieve pain, anxiety and depression, as well as symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The FDA recently conducted a scientific analysis that provided even stronger evidence of kratom’s opioid properties, the agency said in a statement. “We have been especially concerned about the use of kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, as there is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder and significant safety issues exist,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The analysis has “contributed to the FDA’s concerns about kratom’s potential for abuse, addiction, and serious health consequences; including death.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

‘Tragic trend’: On-the-job deaths at highest level since 2008, BLS reports

Washington — A total of 5,190 workers died from on-the-job injuries in 2016 – a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest number of fatalities since 5,214 workers died in 2008, according to data released Dec. 19 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data also shows that the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries climbed to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2016 from 3.4 per 100,000 FTE in 2015. Also notable: Transportation-related fatalities – which increased slightly to 2,083 – accounted for 40 percent of all fatal work-related injuries in 2016. Among workers 55 and older, 1,848 deaths occurred – the highest total among this demographic since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began in 1992. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers experienced 918 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation, while logging workers had the highest rate of fatal injuries, at 135.9 per 100,000 FTE. The number of fatalities among loggers increased to 91 in 2016 from 67 in 2015. Fatal injuries among leisure and hospitality workers were 32 percent higher in 2016 than 2015. Fatal injuries among the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry fell by 26 percent in 2016. Texas had the most worker deaths – 545 – followed by California (376), Florida (309) and New York (272). In all, 36 states experienced increases in deaths attributed to workplace injuries in 2016. The number of fatalities rose for the third consecutive year – a development Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt called a “tragic trend.” “America’s workers deserve better,” Sweatt said in a Dec. 19 press release. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways of working with employers and employees to improve workplace safety and health. OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, educating and training, and outreach.” The data release is the second of two annual BLS reports. The first, released in November, highlighted nonfatal injury and illnesses among private-sector employees.