Friday, February 27, 2009

On This Side of the Pond - Obama Wants More OSHA Funding

As part of the administration's recently released budget proposals, President Obama is aiming for major increases in funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The document was released on Thursday says funding increases would allow the agency to "vigorously enforce workplace safety laws and whistleblower protections" that were largely ignored under the previous administration. From the article

"For the past eight years, the department's labor law enforcement agencies have struggled with growing workloads and shrinking staff," the 134-page document said. "The president's budget seeks to reverse this trend, restoring the department's ability to meet its responsibilities to working Americans under the more than 180 worker protection laws it enforces."

The McClatchy Newspapers article cites a recent investigative article that appeared in the Charlotte Observer as evidence that additional funding and enforcement by the agency is desperately needed in the poultry industry. The article found that laxed government enforcement has caused increasing numbers of workplace injuries to go unprotected and is putting consumer products at risk of disease contamination.

Though Work-to-Live is focused on workplace health in India and other developing countries, it is great to see the leaders in our own country working to restore the image of a neglected agency. It allows American nonprofits to seem less hypocritical when we are advocating increased OSH funding and regulatory enforcement in the developing world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Indian Government Aims to Reduce Workplace Stress

A new policy by the Union of cabinet of India aims to reduce workplace stress in Indian offices. While most previous OSH legislation in India has focused on workplace safety in mines and factories, very few pieces of legislation has centered on white-collar OSH issues. This current piece of legislation pays particular attention to placing restrictions on workplace size.

“The environment in the workplace is important — from the point of view of health, safety and efficiency,” said Sudhir Dave, former director of the National Institute of Occupational Health in Ahmedabad. “The space available at workplaces, the lighting, even noise levels are all important — they can affect health in the long term, but we’ve never given them the importance they deserve,”

OSH legislation often times means very little if not backed up by swift government action. In India, sadly, this has been severely lacking with previous pieces of legislation. It's our hope that at the very least this government action brings more attention to these critical OSH issues that are growing in importance as India's economy becomes increasingly dependent on white-collar jobs.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

OK International Highlights Lead Poisoning in the Developing World

Perry Gottesfeld, the Executive Director of Occupational Knowledge International, recently gave an interview on the effects of lead poisoning in developing countries. The program focuses on exposure to lead batteries. Below is a short excerpt.

There are 120 million people who are overexposed to lead around the world. That's three times the number infected by HIV AIDS. And this problem is going largely unnoticed, under the radar screen, because people are not aware that the common battery used in vehicles and other appliances are causing severe poisoning around the world.

Listen to the full interview.

Friday, February 6, 2009

IJOEH Publishes Winter 2009 Issue

The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health was just released yesterday. There are no stories on Silicosis or India in the current issue, but there is a pretty excellent study on workplace injury in a Vietnamese workers' commune.

There's also an editorial praising the Big Three American auto companies (Ford, GM, and Crysler) for their efforts to educate workers on the harmful affects of asbestos exposure through brake replacement and manufacture. It's rare to see an OSH editorial praising large corporations for their efforts. This one, of course, is pretty timely given the PR nightmare these companies have been through following the December bailout hearings.

Access to the current issue and the journal's archives are free, but the site does require user registration.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Possible Link Between Silicosis and Lung Cancer Explored

A new study published by a team of researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany recently completed a study to determine if there is a link between silica exposure and lung cancer among workers who are not suffering from silicosis. They combed through past studies published over the past 42 years on the subject. Their findings were inconclusive, but they feel that additional research is needed to explore if such a relationship does exist.