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Medical Surveillance Helps to Detect Health Threat to Workers

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More and more evidence suggests that those working in the commercial coffee manufacturing industry or local cafes should be concerned about their health. A study of workers at a coffee manufacturing facility showed that they had more respiratory issues than workers of a similar age group working in a different industry.

Those working on a production line performing fairly innocuous tasks such roasting, scooping beans, grinding and packaging coffee could be at risk of developing sinus and other mucous membrane symptoms. This fact is a result of their interaction with green coffee dust, chaff and roasted coffee dust, according to the study.

A third of the workers screened had abnormal breathing tests, with the likely culprits being two volatile organic compounds – diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione – found in the production process.

Diacetyl was blamed for many injuries and some deaths in the microwave popcorn industry during the early 2000s.

If medical surveillance had not been carried out at the coffee production facility, the business in question would never have known the condition of its employees. The company would not have been able to change its safety and production standards.

Medical surveillance is the assessment of employees exposed, or potentially exposed, to occupational hazards. By carrying out an assessment of your workers, you can monitor individuals for adverse health effects and determine if your work conditions are contributing to poor health. This will allow you to take preventative measures.

New advances in healthcare and medicines can help keep your staff strong, fit and well enough to carry out necessary tasks. It is the employer’s role to ensure that steps are taken to promote the health of their employees, especially if they happen to work in hazardous environments.

How Can Minnesota Occupational Health Help With Medical Surveillance?

Medical surveillance usually involves attaining a standard level of one or more materials that workers have been or will be exposed to, then continually retesting to make sure that safe levels of exposures are preserved. When a level surpasses standards for safe exposure, Minnesota Occupational Health works with employers, employees and environmental health and safety professionals to help lessen any lasting impact on the workers. MOH can advise employers on work environment processes, policies and equipment to ensure safe exposure levels for particular duties.

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References:

Medical Surveillance for Workers’ Health. (2017, October 17). Retrieved November 02, 2017, from https://www.ulehssustainability.com/blog/occupationalhealth/medical-surveillance-for-workers-health/#sthash.Gk1vfkZi.dpbs

OSHA and the ACC Create Alliance to Promote Awareness for Diisocyanates Exposure

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have formed a two-year partnership to bring awareness to diisocyante exposure in the workplace and promote safe methods for its utilization in the polyurethane industry.

Isocyanates are chemicals used to make adaptable and rigid foams, adhesives, fibers, coatings, and more. Human exposure to isocyanates can significantly irritate the skin and result in breathing problems.

OSHA and AAC are together recommending that an Internet-based training program be created to educate employers and staff on the safe use of chemicals and the possible ways in which exposure may occur. It will acquire information on medical surveillance and clinical evaluation strategies for employers and workers who use the chemicals.

The partnership will help guarantee that employers and employees in specific industries have a stronger understanding of the health risks associated with the identified chemicals. Ideally, the partnership will result in less cases of exposure.

The ACC includes the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) and the Diisocyanates and Aliphatic Diisocyanates panels. Representatives of these groups are comprised of manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals and equipment used to create polyurethane.

References:

Stefanie Valentic 1 | Sep 18, 2017. (2017, September 18). OSHA, American Chemistry Council Establish Partnership. Retrieved October 02, 2017, from http://www.ehstoday.com/industrial-hygiene/osha-american-chemistry-council-establish-partnership

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OSHA Introduces Application To Transmit Injury And Illness Data Electronically

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has unveiled the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). The Internet-based form gives businesses the ability to electronically submit injury and illness data from their finalized 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The application can be found on the ITA website.

In mid-2017, OSHA made available a plan to extend the July deadline for companies submitting their 2016 Form 300A to December. This will provide businesses adequate time to become accustomed with the electronic reporting system and to give the new administration a chance to evaluate the new reporting requirements before they are put into practice.

The information submission method includes four stages: forming an establishment, adding the 300A summary data, submitting that information to OSHA, and looking over the confirmation email. The protected website provides three opportunities for data submission. One will allow users to manually enter data into an online form. Another will allow users to upload a CSV file to address single or multiple establishments simultaneously. A third option will enable users of automated documentation systems to transfer data electronically through an application programming interface.

The ITA website includes information that explains reporting obligations for establishments, a list of common questions and answers, and a way to request help with finalizing the form.

OSHA Has Updated its Regulations for Post-Accident Drug Testing

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Late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new regulations relating to reporting and recording occupational illnesses and injuries. These regulations protect workers from creating disincentives to reporting an occupational injury or illness or from retaliation by an employer for a worker seeking treatment for an injury.

In a general sense, drug and alcohol testing after an accident is still permitted. That said, the employer must demonstrate a “reasonable possibility” that drugs or alcohol are fully or partially to blame for the accident, the injury, or the illness. This does not apply to situations where drug-testing is mandatory, such as for certain federal employees or workers subject to federal drug testing requirements.

OSHA still considers post-accident drug testing to be a reasonable strategy to assist with workplace safety. It is a way for employers to make sure that their workplaces are as safe as possible for everyone. However, employers need to be aware that they cannot have a blanket drug-testing policy for every workplace injury or illness. The situation must meet the requirement that there is a reasonable possibility that drugs or alcohol played a part. Supervisors and managers should be trained in what constitutes a reasonable possibility, and reporting processes should reflect this definition as well.

It is important to remember consider the following when determining whether a drug test has met the standard for a reasonable possibility.

How serious was the outcome of the accident? If a motor vehicle is involved, any commercial vehicle on a public roadway, resulting in the need for towing, a treatable injury or a fatality must always result in a drug and alcohol test.

For employers with a Reasonable Suspicion policy, drug and alcohol testing, is there reason to conclude that drugs or alcohol may have been a factor?

Vijay Eyunni, M.D., M.P.H., Featured in The Star Tribune & St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Dr. Vijay Eyunni, Minnesota Occupational Health’s medical director, was recently featured in both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Dr. Eyunni, who is also a team physician for the Minnesota Twins professional baseball team, identified Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s prostate cancer during a health examination. Dr. Eyunni observed Gardenhire’s raised prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and performed additional tests. These tests came back positive for prostate cancer.

A member of the American Academy of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Board of Preventative and Occupational Medicine, Dr. Eyunni has worked with Minnesota Occupational Health since 1998.

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