Protections against exposure to beryllium allotted to workers are far too weak, especially in the construction industry, where an estimated 23,000 construction workers come in contact with beryllium every day while performing open-air blasting.
Beryllium levels can be extremely elevated due to high dust concentrations on construction sites and can result in chronic beryllium disorder. Patients gradually develop cough, chest pain, progressive shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue. Loss of appetite, weight loss, lung and right-sided heart failure may occur in people with advanced disease.
On September 4, 2014, the Obama Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule to allow the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to update the Beryllium standard. As detailed in Executive Order 12866, OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is required to complete its review of such rules within 90 days of receipt, with an additional 30-day review extension allowed if needed.
But eight months have passed, and there is no sign that OMB is close to completing its review.
The prevalence of injuries and fatalities in childbirth is among the most anguishing problems in health care.
The heartache of having a baby die or suffer injuries necessitating lifelong care is incalculable. Meanwhile, the potential liability for untoward outcomes in delivery drives up doctors’ liability insurance rates, prompting periodic warnings that obstetricians are being driven out of business.
But it turns out that solutions exist to preventing a significant percentage of the tragedies that cause all of this suffering and handwringing. A new Public Citizen report recounts childbirth safety initiative undertaken by four organizations in the past 15 years that have generated striking results.
Ascension Health reduced its neonatal fatality rate by nearly 50 percent across its 43 hospitals despite having a rate 62 percent below the national average at the outset of its initiative; New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center reduced incidence of a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to 2 percent of the national average; Premier Inc., a health care alliance, reduced birth trauma among full-term newborns by 74 percent in the 16 hospitals participating in its safety initiative; and Hospital Corporation of America reduced maternal fatalities due to pulmonary embolism by 86 percent.
By Robert Craycraft
Asbestos was once used as a flame-retardant and for electrical insulation in buildings, ships and homes. Before it was discovered to cause cancer, millions of American workers and veterans handled and were otherwise exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
An unknown amount of the hazardous material is still present in our communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 3,000 people continue to die from mesothelioma and asbestosis every year; some experts estimate the death toll is as high as 10,000 annually when other types of asbestos-linked diseases and cancers are included.
In early February, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law held a hearing on H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (or FACT Act). Generally speaking, the more transparency the better. However, in this case, the asbestos industry is using the guise of “transparency” to push the FACT Act as a way to delay compensation to asbestos victims and their families. The bill would require the trusts that manage victim compensation to retroactively compile information on all claims they’ve paid and to require the trusts to answer any and all information requests by asbestos company defendants.
These paperwork requirements could have the effect of slowing or even stopping the important work of the trusts to compensate victims that have developed deadly diseases like mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) called the FACT Act a “Trojan horse” which “guarantees that the insurance companies pay as little as possible.”