News Bulletins

In safety news:

OSHA formed an alliance with the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) with the goal of protecting the safety and health of workers in the grain handling industry. The two-year alliance will focus on preventing exposure to hazards associated with grain bin entry, machine guarding, respiratory protection, falls, heat exposure, combustible dust, struck-by equipment, and lockout/tagout. Alliance participants will share recommended practices or effective approaches for recognizing and preventing grain handling hazards with OSHA staff, and industry safety and health professionals. Participants also plan to support and promote events such as the Grain Industry Stand-Up, which focuses on engulfment prevention.

Read more here.

In educational news:

Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark has announced its next complimentary webinar on the “interactive process” method, which is the foundation of ADAAA compliance, encouraging the employer and employee work together to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made to allow an employee to return to work with restrictions.

More info and registration here.

In industry news:

Mitchell recently released its Industry Trends Report (ITR) for the third quarter of 2017. In this edition, Mitchell executives share insights on how combining artificial intelligence and augmented reality can lead to new opportunities, how “smart” technology is impacting auto claims workflows, and how insurers combine data with expertise to optimize the claims process.

Access it here.

In regulatory news:

FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb issued an announcement about the agency’s continued efforts to encourage the adoption of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. MAT includes opioids such as methadone or buprenorphine, which can interact with benzodiazepines with deadly consequences. In an advisory last year, the FDA said more investigation about the extent of that danger was needed. Now, the agency says to proceed with caution. The statement reads in part: “As a result of that consideration, the FDA’s new advisory that we’re issuing today asks health care providers and patients to be aware of these risks. But at the same time, the agency is also reinforcing that MAT should not necessarily be denied to patients taking these other medications. The dangers associated with failing to treat an opioid use disorder can outweigh the risks of co-prescribing MAT and benzodiazepines.”

Read the full announcement here.

In neighboring news:

Authorities say three people suffered injuries in a chemical explosion at a Central Florida warehouse. About 50 people were evacuated from the area around the Natural Advantage Food Flavorings plant on Friday afternoon. Sixteen people, including six employees, six nearby people and four firefighters were decontaminated. Two victims were taken to Tampa General Hospital and another went to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. All three suffered chemical burns. Reports indicate that two chemicals, toluene and sodium hypochlorite, likely caused the explosion, those chemicals are used to clean the kettles in which food flavorings are made.

Read more via Insurance Journal here.

In economic news:

Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia from August 2016 to August 2017, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. Employment in the other 21 states (including Louisiana) was essentially unchanged over the year. In percentage terms, the largest increases occurred in Nevada (3.0 percent), Georgia (2.7 percent), Florida (2.6 percent), Utah (2.6 percent), and Texas (2.5 percent).

More info here.

In national news:

Experts say that employers should continue to work under Obama-era guidance regarding workplace violence, as the Trump administration has not rescinded it. OSHA enforces safety standards to prevent workplace violence through its general duty clause, and the agency has used industry guidance, employer policies and its own guidance on workplace violence to demonstrate that the hazard is recognized in the industry — a necessary component for a citation under the general duty clause. Retail and healthcare are the industries most likely to face scrutiny for failure to provide a reasonably secure workplace, because these industries are especially prone to violence. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that fewer than 30 percent of private employers had workplace violence prevention programs and only about 20 percent provided workplace violence prevention training.

Complete coverage from Business Insurance here.

In regulatory news:

OSHA and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have teamed up to promote safety around the raw materials used during the production process of polyurethane. EHS Today reports that the two-year alliance will raise awareness of how workers are exposed to diisocyantes and isocyantes (the raw materials from which polyurethane is made) through web-based training.

Read more here.

In medical news:

Sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression and catastrophizing about pain can contribute to lingering pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA), according to a prospective study out of the University of Pittsburgh. The study consisted of 153 white adult patients (average age, 64 years; 58% women). All patients underwent unilateral TKA at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Before surgery, patients had a clinical evaluation and completed five self-report psychosocial questionnaires. At baseline, 88 percent of patients reported moderate to severe pain related to their osteoarthritis, which was reduced to 24 percent at six months. The strongest association between psychological traits and chronic/severe pain six months after surgery was for sleep disturbance, followed by perceived stress and somatization.

Read more from Pain Medicine News here.

In continuing news:

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the Louisiana Department of Health will utilize new and expanded federal grants to fight opioid abuse across the state. The CDC’s Data-Driven Prevention Initiative has awarded $540,000 to be used for increased surveillance of opioid overdoses and deaths. This funding is an extension of a grant first awarded in 2016 which allowed the Department to work with external partners to merge statewide data sources that track deaths, prescription rates and emergency room and inpatient utilization. Through its Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance initiative, the CDC has awarded a second grant for $457,702 which will be used for the establishment of a “rapid surveillance” system through a collaboration with local law enforcement agencies and coroners. This will make data on fatal and non-fatal overdoses available within weeks of the event.

More info here.