There are abandoned mines in nearly every state. Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, or MSHA, estimates there are about 500,000 abandoned mines and 14,000 active operations throughout the U.S. Of them, many contain “hidden hazards, and for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly.”
Old abandoned mines may seem like a great place to play. But the old sites, some of them water-filled quarries and some of them heaps of old stockpiles, can be deadly.
The danger is not only a threat to Hawaii worker safety. Outdoor sports enthusiasts and children are also at risk.
The solution may be to “Stay Out – Stay Alive.” The new public safety program is warning workers, outdoors activities enthusiasts, and children about the risks posed by mines, both active and old and abandoned ones. Children are at risk of falling into old mine shafts. Under the new program, federal mining health and safety experts will visit children in schools, scout organizations, and other groups to warn youngsters of the dangers.
There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and 14,000 active operations throughout the U.S. Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, estimates. Of them, many contain what he called “hidden hazards, and for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly.”
Quarries pose another form of hazard. Although they may seem harmless on the surface, beneath it swimmers might become entangled in old machinery left behind in the wake of a shutdown. There are sharp objects underwater to contend with. And even the best swimmer may succumb to the cold and surprisingly deep waters. Not only the water poses a hazard. Around the edges, rock ledges may crumble and slopes are slippery.
Old machinery and other sharp objects may be hidden under the water’s surface, and even the best swimmer may be in for a deadly surprise in the cold, deep waters. Slopes may be dangerously slippery and rock ledges unstable. The risks are particularly a problem for all terrain vehicle users, who can be caught in a fatal rollover when heaps of old refuse or stockpiles collapse under their use.
The MSHA’s new “Stay Out – Stay Alive” program is crafted to warn everyone, whether working or playing, not to accidentally stray onto mining property.
A recent Hawaii OSHA alert deals with a potential flu pandemic or global outbreak. The OSHA urges employers to prepare for such an event even though there is currently no new strain of influenza or risk of a pandemic.
While you might think that Hawaii’s island location would offer some protection from a pandemic, during the most recent global epidemic, the islands were affected.
Did you know that the 1918 Spanish Flu killed more people than World War I did? The Spanish Flu was an influenza outbreak that killed 50 to 100 million in just 18 months. WWI killed 9 million soldiers and several million civilians.
This is something that employers should keep in mind. An influenza pandemic will greatly impact our nation by increasing employee absenteeism, affecting travel, trade, tourism, the food supply, and consumer buying. It will create ripples in the investment and financial markets. This is according to a recent report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The last influenza pandemic happened around the end of World War I. Fifty million to 100 million people died in just 18 months because of the 1918 Spanish Flu. Deaths caused by World War I weren’t as high. During WWI 9 million soldiers and several million civilians died.
A pandemic will affect travel, trade, consumer buying, food supply and tourism. Employee absenteeism will probably be very high which will affect deliveries and staffing of stores and even healthcare facilities. Healthcare facilities could also become overcrowded.
A pandemic will ultimately affect the investment and financial markets in a stronger way than any single terrorist attack would. It will also cause changes in the patterns of commerce.
Influenza travels from person to person so places where people typically gather will also loose business. Such places include malls, restaurants and movie theaters. People will choose to stay home and download movies instead.
The OSHA says there is currently no new strain of the influenza virus going around, and no pandemic. However, the administration still urges every Mississippi employer to be prepared. They play a key role in protecting the health and safety of workers and can help prevent or minimize widespread economic disruptions if a pandemic were to occur.
Here’s good news for employers and employees alike. Now, there is another weapon available now in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse at work. It’s the Hawaii Drug Free Workplace alliance.
Companies in the alliance use pre-hiring screening and random drug tests. OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – does not require drug-free programs in the workplace. But such programs, according to the federal agency, enhance safety at work and protect businesses from losses.
That’s because employee drug and alcohol abuse comes with a high price tag. And it’s avoidable. Some of the obvious costs are errors, accidents, and higher absenteeism. But there are less obvious problems as well, including bad morale and greater rates of illness. Most of the deadly car accidents related to work, says OSHA, are as a result of alcohol and drug abuse.
According to OSHA, workplace programs, especially those that include drug testing, must be reasonable. They must respect employees’ privacy rights while educating them about the dangers and urging those with issues of alcohol and drug abuse to seek rehabilitation help.
The Hawaii Drug Free Workplace Alliance is a clear example of the federal government’s dedication to working in a cooperative effort with management and labor – both unions and contractor associations – to fight a problem that is a danger to workers and costly to businesses.
OSHA describes the programs as complements to the other efforts toward workplace health and safety, thus contributing to the value of businesses. It is not mandatory, however, for businesses to participate in the Hawaii Drug Free Workplace Alliance.
Drug and alcohol abuse are avoidable dangers in the workplace, according to OSHA, which stresses that programs like the Alliance can enhance the safety of workers while protecting businesses from loss. It strongly backs drug free workplace plans like the Alliance, and notes it is particularly valuable in work places, which are considered safety-sensitive – like those where machinery is being operated.
Two manufacturers are issuing voluntary recalls for their chainsaws, due to recent reports of workers being injured. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued the warning to alert workers of the risk of serious injury in industries where the chainsaws are commonly used. The brands of chainsaw affected are Craftsman’s “Incredi-Pull” model and four models made by Troy-Bilt.
The Hawaii OSHA Alert was issued in an effort to protect workers who put the chainsaws to heavy use. Common industries that use the chainsaws are landscaping, construction, and lumbering, among others. Employers are urged to remove the chainsaws from the workplace immediately and contact the manufacturer or Hawaii OSHA for replacement parts and a safety kit.
The chainsaws have a defective handle, which, according to recent reports, has snapped while in use. The recalled saws have an 18- or 20-inch blade and are gasoline powered with a capacity of 46 to 55cc’s. The models affected have a two-cycle engine.
Several workers have received severe cuts, bruises and burns trying to regain control of the chainsaw after the handle broke. One worker, while attempting to regain control of the chainsaw after the handle broke, grabbed the muffler, which was hot, and severely burned his fingers. Another worker suffered serious cuts from the blade, and another suffered a sprained wrist and severe bruising while trying to control the saw.
The CPSC monitors product safety for more than 15,000 consumer products. They receive reports related to serious injury or death resulting from the use of a wide range of products. Products are monitored to protect workers, consumers and families from risks such as injury to children as well as potential fire, mechanical, chemical, or electrical hazards. In the event there is unreasonable risk associated with a consumer product, manufacturers will typically issue a voluntary recall of the product. Consumers often receive a replacement product, or a kit and instructions to make the product safe to use.
Speaking of workers’ comp, California is not the only state in this great land that is making some renovations in its system for 2007. The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has announced for January 1, 2007, a new increase to the workers’ comp rate of reimbursement for medical providers in the system. Workers’ comp medical providers are those physicians, therapists, pain therapists, occupational therapists, nurse case managers, and others who specialize in treating workplace injuries.
The new medical provider reimbursement rate, according to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, will be spread across most physician services. The Hawaiian Medical Association had something to do with this increase in reimbursement rates. The Hawaiian Medical Association had requested certain selected Current Procedural Technology Codes to be accepted in the system.
What does that mean exactly? I don’t know exactly, but in general, what happened was, along with the Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Hawaiian Medical Association got a review of more than 5,5000 codes, primarily for medical procedures most often conducted by medical providers in the workers’ comp system. This review of these codes also made sure that the payments for each code still matched the going rate for these medical procedures on the open market.
After the review, it turns out that about 1,300 of these codes needed some sort of adjustment. For instance, surgical codes needed an adjusted increase by an average of nearly 30 percent over the 2005 Medicare Par plus 10 percent. Medicine codes needed an average increase of reimbursement rates of 4.2 percent over the 2005 Medicare Par plus 10 percent.
After the review, there was a public hearing about the proposed increases, and then the state governor, Linda Lingle, reviewed and signed the law. The intent is to make sure that workers get quality treatment, and those providing the fair treatment get fairly compensated for their work.