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Monday, January 30, 2012

NFL Players Tackling Heart Disease

Many football players are essentially paid to be big—really big—especially those whose job is to block or stop the big guys on the other team.  They also suffer from medical conditions that are work related and claim medical benefits and other benefits available under the Workers' Compensation Act. 
There is a good chance that these players weigh in at sizes that are classified as obese as defined by body mass index (BMI).  In the general population, high BMI generally correlates with high body fat, and we know that high body fat is a risk factor for death (mortality) and heart disease.  Is the same true for elite athletes, for whom high BMI may relate to increased muscularity rather than increased body fat?  What if the athlete plays a position where size simply matters, regardless of whether size is related to muscle or to body fat?   And what happens when former athletes are no longer conditioning at their playing-day levels?  Do professional football players die earlier than or more often from heart disease or cancer than the average American male?   New research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) helps answer these and other questions.
In 1994, NIOSH published research examining death rates and risk factors for former National Football League (NFL) players.1  At that time the research was based on all deaths that had occurred through 1991.   After following these players for an additional 16 years, NIOSH has just published new researchExternal Web Site Icon. on the topic in the American Journal of CardiologyExternal Web Site Icon..  
The study included 3,439 retired NFL players from the 1959 through 1988 seasons.  The study found that:
  • Players had a much lower overall rate of death compared to men in the general U.S. population of similar age and racial mix. On average, NFL players are actually living longer than the average American male. Out of the 3,439 players in the study, 334 were deceased. Based on estimates from the general population, we anticipated roughly 625 deaths.
  • Players also had a much lower rate of cancer-related deaths compared to the general U.S. population. A total of 85 players died from cancer when we anticipated 146 cancer-related deaths based on estimates from the general population.
  • Players who had a playing-time BMI of 30 or more had twice the risk of death from heart disease compared to other players. Similar findings have been noted in other studies. Offensive and defensive linemen were more likely to have a BMI greater than 30. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese in the general population whereas a healthy BMI is between 18.5-24.9.
  • African American players had a 69% higher risk of death from heart disease compared to Caucasian players.   The study controlled for player size and position and determined that those factors are not the reason for this difference.
  • Defensive linemen had a 42% higher risk of death from heart disease compared to men in the general population. A total of 41 defensive linemen died of heart disease, when we anticipated 29 deaths based on estimates from the general population.  Among the 41 defensive linemen who died of heart disease, 8 deaths were due to cardiomyopathy (a specific kind of heart disease that causes the heart to enlarge and can lead to heart failure). We anticipated fewer than two deaths from cardiomyopathy. We saw this increased risk only among the defensive linemen.
Source The NIOSH Science Blog

Read Also: 
Body Mass Index, Playing Position, Race, and the Cardiovascular Mortality of Retired Professional Football Players
"The initial cohort included 3,732 NFL players but 292 players with unknown race and 1 “player” who was actually a trainer were excluded. By the end of follow-up in 2007, the final cohort of 3,439 players contributed 104,776 person-years at risk and 334 deaths. On average the cohort was followed for 26.8 ± 8.7 years (mean ± SD) after retirement from the NFL. For players still alive, the median age at the study end date was 57 years; 60% of the players were white (including 15 Hispanics) and 39% were African-American..."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wage Miscalculations Can Result In Incorrect Low Temporary Disability Payments

Universally workers' compensation temporary disability benefits are set calculating wages at the time of the accident. If an employer miscalculates an employee's wages then the payment of temporary disability benefits paid may be too low. Employers use many techniques to report low wages.

Click here to read more: Don’t Get Short-Changed On Your Work Comp Disability Payments by attorney Brody Ockander
"While off work for your injury, make sure you are getting the proper amount of money you are entitled to. Employers use many techniques to manipulate your wages to pay you less than you are legally entitled to."

The New Mental Workplace Stress : Loneliness

Workers' Compensation claims have been increasing for mental stress claims as technology evolves and more workers are feeling more isolated and estranged from their co-workers by technology. Mental disability attributed to psychological stressors have for decades been recognized as a compensable event in workers' compensation.  Stress claims are on the upswing as employees work alone and the declining economy forced limitations on  employer generated social activity.

Click here to read Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague (
"...sometimes loneliness can be built into the fabric of an organization. An atmosphere of distrust, suspicion and fear can cause workers to feel estranged from one another...."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nursing Home Abuse: Drugging of Patients

Many seriously injured workers end up living in nursing homes for convenience and care. Workers compensation act usual pay for nursing home care, but do they really know what they are funding? Just published is a report indicting nursing homes for pharmaceutical abuse. 

"Today, CANHR is releasing "In a Stupor: What California’s Antipsychotic Drug Collaborative Reveals About Illegal Nursing Home Drugging." The report analyzes the findings of the Department of Public Health's Antipsychotic Drug Collaborative with which the Department has investigated 24 nursing homes and found 147 violations of state rules regarding the use of antipsychotics on residents. The Department's investigations confirm that misuse of antipsychotics is rampant in California nursing homes and deserves immediate remedial action...."
For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses. 
Related articles

Workplace Violence: Workers Compensation Judge Removed For Taking a Gun To Work

I once walked into a workers' compensation court and the Judge was using a 3 foot sledge hammer as a gavel. How far a field one can go before crossing the line of what is appropriate conduct for a judge was the subject of a recent court decision.

A Court in Pennsylvania has ruled that it is unlawful for a workers' compensation judge to bring a gun to work. The judge was removed from office and terminated.

Click here to read: Peter E. Perry v. State Civil Service Commission, No. 2751 C.D. 2010 (PA 2011)

"....the Commission credited L&I‟s evidence regarding the existence of its policies concerning weapons in the workplace and Perry‟s 14  violations of those policies. The Commission‟s supported findings reveal the following. L&I issued its employees a Weapons Policy Statement, which specifically prohibited the possession of weapons, including, among other things, all forms of firearms, “while in or on property owned or leased by [L&I].” F.F. No. 9; R.R. at 134a. The policy specifies that violations “may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment.” R.R. at 134a. Perry received this policy. F.F. No. 10; R.R. at 136a-37a. Perry also received a copy of Management Directive 205.33 relating to workplace violence, issued by the Governor‟s Office, Secretary of Administration, which applied to all agencies under the Governor's jurisdiction. R.R. at 125a-32a, R.R. at 136a-37a."

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Carolina Asbestos Textile Industry Risk High Mortality

SEM photo of Chrysotile.Image via WikipediaStudies of workers in two US cohorts of asbestos textile workers exposed to chrysotile (North Carolina (NC) and South Carolina (SC)) found increasing risk of lung cancer mortality with cumulative fibre exposure. However, the risk appeared to increase more steeply in SC, possibly due to differences in study methods. The authors conducted pooled analyses of the cohorts and investigated the exposure-disease relationship using uniform cohort inclusion criteria and statistical methods.

Increased rates of lung cancer were significantly associated with cumulative fibre exposure overall and in both the Carolina asbestos-textile cohorts. Previously reported differences in exposure-response between the cohorts do not appear to be related to inclusion criteria or analytical methods.

EPA Issues Annual Report on Chemicals Released Into Land, Air and Water in New Jersey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  issued its 25th annual report on the amount of toxic chemicals released in 2010 to the land, air and water by industrial facilities in New Jersey. The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report covers 411 New Jersey facilities that are required to report their releases to the EPA. Total releases of chemicals in New Jersey were higher in 2010 than in 2009. A significant portion of the 2009-2010 increase was due to increases in wastewater being discharged from the DuPont Chambers Works, Conoco Phillips and Paulsboro Refining Co. LLC.

“Transparency is a powerful tool,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The Toxics Release Inventory allows the public and policymakers to better understand the pollutants released to our air, water and land each year and gives them the information they need to take action in their communities. The data that was released is a reminder of how important TRI has been in helping us create a healthier environment, and the work still needed to be done to reduce industrial pollution.”

Last year marked the 25th Anniversary of the Toxic Release Inventory. In 1986, New Jersey Senator Frank R. Lautenberg authored the legislation that established TRI, which was signed into law as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Since that time, TRI data has been provided to the public annually to inform the public about the chemicals present in their local environment and gauge environmental trends over time. The inventory contains the most comprehensive information about chemicals released into the environment reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities. Many of these facilities are required to install and maintain pollution controls to meet the limits on pollution set forth in their permit.

Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases by July 1 of each year. EPA made a preliminary set of data for 2010 available in July 2011, the month the reported data was collected. Nationally, over 20,000 facilities reported on approximately 650 chemicals for calendar year 2010.

EPA has improved this year’s TRI national analysis report by adding new information on risks, facility efforts to reduce pollution and details about how possible economic impacts could affect TRI data. With this report and EPA’s Web-based TRI tools, the public can access information about the disposals and releases of toxic chemicals into the air, water, and land that occur in their communities.

To view an area fact sheet, visit:

US Asbestos Imports Increases in 2011

The United States has yet to ban asbestos, a known carcinogen, and in 2011 the amount of asbestos that the US imports increased according to US government statistics. It is axiomatic, that the legacy from the this increase of asbestos imports will cause an increase in asbestos related illness in the US 30 years down the road as asbestosis and malignancies such as lung cancer and mesothelioma rise.

The following statement was issued today by Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder, President & CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, regarding the 2012 United States Geological Survey report about the dramatic increase in asbestos importation to the United States:

"As a Mesothelioma widow and asbestos awareness advocate, I was appalled and shocked to discover today that the 2012 United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries reported asbestos consumption from January through July of 2011 to be 1,100 metric tons; however, when comparing a previous report from January through July of 2010, asbestos consumption was reported to be 820 metric tons. This difference of 280 metric tons represents a 25% increase in consumption. For more than three decades, asbestos has been a known human carcinogen, yet occupational and environmental exposure continues throughout the United States.

There is no safe limit for asbestos exposure. Asbestos should be banned in the US.  The introduction and use of asbestos fiber into the US environment will only perpetuate a legacy of fatal disease for future Americans. 

Click here to read: USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2012
"Domestic Production and Use: Asbestos has not been mined in the United States since 2002. The United States is dependent on imports to meet manufacturing needs. Asbestos consumption in the United States was estimated to be 1,100 tons, based on asbestos imports through July 2011. Roofing products were estimated to account for about 60% of U.S. consumption; the chloralkali industry about 35%; and unknown applications, 5%."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Privacy Limits for Social Networking: The Right To Be Forgotten

The explosive use of social media information as a discovery and an investigatory tool in workers' compensation matters may soon be reaching its limits as the European Union is proposing privacy data regulations. The proposed regulations would allow users to shut down and literally expunge their social media records. It would be enforceable with heavy economic sanctions against social media providers.

Click here to read : Europe Weighs Tough Law on Online Privacy (
"The proposed law strikes at the heart of some of the knottiest questions governing digital life and commerce: who owns personal data, what happens to it once it is posted online, and what the proper balance is between guarding privacy and leveraging that data to aim commercial or political advertising at ordinary people."

Workers Compensation Fails to Cover Most Occupational Disease Claims

A just published study reports that only 25% of occupational disease claims are covered by US workers' compensation programs.

Click here to read the entire report: Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States  Get PDF (611K)
"The medical and indirect costs of occupational injuries and illnesses are sizable, at least as large as the cost of cancer. Workers’ compensation covers less than 25 percent of these costs, so all members of society share the burden. The contributions of job-related injuries and illnesses to the overall cost of medical care and ill health are greater than generally assumed."

Friday, January 20, 2012

IAIABC Partnering with Self-Insurance Guaranty Funds

The International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) and Self-Insurance Guaranty Funds of America (SIGFA) announced their partnership in 2012. Working together, the two groups hope they will foster greater discussion among members of U.S. guaranty funds and workers’ compensation regulators. This collaboration will enable the sharing of collective knowledge and expertise on common interests, particularly self insurance regulation.

Beginning in 2012, SIGFA will host its annual meeting in conjunction with the IAIABC 98th Annual Convention. “We are excited about this agreement as there is a natural alignment between the two groups,” commented Alan McClain, IAIABC Past President. “We look forward to welcoming fund administrators from across the nation to our annual meeting.” Guaranty funds play an important role in the U.S. workers’ compensation system and their participation will enrich conference discussions.

Charles Hough, SIGFA Chairperson remarked, “While our meeting will be run independently of the IAIABC conference, we can benefit from the perspectives offered by the regulatory community. At the same time, our members can take advantage of IAIABC programming that may interest them.” Having access to administrators and self insurance directors speaks directly to SIGFA’s guiding principles to educate, internally and externally, and share critical information. Additionally, when topics of common interest are identified, SIGFA and the IAIABC look forward to sharing resources to address them.

SIGFA will first meet with the IAIABC at the 98th Annual Convention on October 1-4, 2012 in Newport, Rhode Island. A schedule of events and program details will be released in January 2012 and can be found at

$1 Million Ordered in Wages and Damages for Retailiation

English: I took this photo of an Airtran Airwa...Image via Wikipedia

US Department of Labor's OSHA orders AirTran Airways to reinstate
pilot, pay more than $1 million in back wages and damages
OSHA found airline violated whistleblower protection provision of AIR21

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co., to reinstate a former pilot who was fired after reporting numerous mechanical concerns. The agency also has ordered that the pilot be paid more than $1 million in back wages plus interest and compensatory damages. An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause to believe that the termination was an act of retaliation in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21.

"Airline workers must be free to raise safety and security concerns, and companies that diminish those rights through intimidation or retaliation must be held accountable," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Airline safety is of vital importance, not only to the workers, but to the millions of Americans who use our airways."

The pilot's complaint alleged that the airline removed him from flight status on Aug. 23, 2007, pending an investigative hearing regarding a sudden spike in the pilot's mechanical malfunction reports, or PIREPS. The airline held an internal investigative hearing on Sept. 6, 2007, that lasted 17 minutes. Seven days later, the airline terminated the pilot's employment, claiming that he did not satisfactorily answer a question regarding the spike in reports. OSHA found that the pilot did not refuse to answer any questions during the hearing, answers to questions were appropriate, and the action taken by the airline was retaliatory.

"Retaliating against a pilot for reporting mechanical malfunctions is not consistent with a company that values the safety of its workers and customers," added Michaels. "Whistleblower laws are designed to protect workers' rights to speak out when they have safety concerns, and the Labor Department will vigilantly protect and defend those fundamental rights."

Either party to the case can file an appeal with the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, but such an appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.

AirTran Airways is a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings Inc. with headquarters in Orlando. On May 2, 2011, Southwest Airlines completed the acquisition of AirTran Holdings Inc. and now operates AirTran Airways as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provision of AIR21, as well as 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, workplace health and safety, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, consumer product and food safety laws.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.

Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights is available online at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Federal Cell Phone Rules Compliance Guide Published

Distracted Driving remains a serious problem in the workplace and now the Federal government is taking enforcement actions to a new level. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced Rules that it is prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones by interstate truck and bus drivers.

As the Rules take effect is is anticipated that many states will adapt these changes.  For those who use prohibited devices in the course of their employment and are involved in accidents may ultimately be denied workers' compensation benefits and employer liability will result. ZoomSafer has now published a compliance guide.

See:  FMCSA Cell Phone Rules: A Compliance Guide for Truck and Bus Fleets

NJ Supreme Court Rules That Only a Physician Can Perform An EMG

Only a licensed physician, and not a physicians assistant, can perform an EMG, ruled the NJ Supreme Court.

Click here to read the complete decision: Selective Insurance Company of American v Arthur C Rothman MD
".... the Legislature intended that only certain licensed physicians, specifically those persons "licensed to practice medicine and surgery pursuant to chapter 9 of Title 45[,]" would be permitted to perform needle EMG tests. As we have explained, physician assistants are not "licensed to practice medicine and surgery" because they do not have the qualifications for such a license."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hey Siri, Where Are the Words, Workers Compensation?

The recently released annual Apple Supplier Report discusses production safety and health issues of Apple's global international suppliers. Admitting many problems including health and safety violations, including an explosion at Foxconn's Chengdu factor because of aluminum dust, the report lacks a mention of a workers' compensation program.

Click here to read: Apple Supplier Responsibility report 2012

"We were deeply saddened by events at two of our suppliers in 2011. An explosion at Foxconn’s Chengdu factory tragically took the lives of four employees and injured 18 others. An explosion at the Ri-Teng (a subsidiary of Pegatron) factory in Shanghai injured 59.Immediately after each of these incidents, Apple reached out to the foremost experts in process safety and assembled teams to investigate the circumstances of each explosion. These teams made recommendations about how to prevent future accidents. While the causes of these two incidents—as well as many of the corrective actions taken afterward—were different, both explosions involved combustible dust. Many materials, including ones normally considered noncombustible, can burn rapidly when small particles are suspended in air in the right concentration and ignited. In both of the 2011 incidents, aluminum particles provided fuel for a blast."

Stop Internet Censorship From Happening

Imagine a world without free knowledge....Stop the US Congress and Senate from censoring the Internet.

SOPA and PIPA - Learn more

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OSHA Urges An Injury & Illness Prevention Programs

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a white paper urging that States implement injury and illness prevention programs. Citing statistics of the consequences of industrial accidents and injuries, as well as the benefits of the implementation of a program, OSHA recommends the implementation of a programs.

Click here to read the OSHA White Paper on Injury & Illness Prevention Programs

  • Despite the combined efforts of employers, workers, unions, safety professionals and regulators, more than 4,500 workers lose their lives and more than four million are seriously injured each year. Tens of thousands more die or are incapacitated because of occupational illnesses including many types of cancer and lung disease. The human toll from this loss is incalculable and the economic toll is enormous.
  • Many employers in the U.S. have been slow to adopt a workplace "safety culture" that emphasizes planning and carrying out work in the safest way possible.
  • Injury and illness prevention programs are based on proven managerial concepts that have been widely used in industry to bring about improvements in quality, environment and safety, and health performance. Effective injury and illness prevention programs emphasize top-level ownership of the program, participation by employees, and a "find and fix" approach to workplace hazards.
  • Injury and illness prevention programs need not be resource-intensive and can be adapted to meet the needs of any size organization.
OSHA believes that adoption of injury and illness prevention programs based on simple, sound, proven principles will help millions of U.S. businesses improve their compliance with existing laws and regulations, decrease the incidence of workplace injuries and illnesses, reduce costs (including significant reductions in workers' compensation premiums) and enhance their overall business operations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Workers Injury Rights Blog Launched

The Workers' Injury Rights blog has been launched by the Law Office of Deborah G. Kohl of Fall RIver, Massachusetts. Attorney Deborah G. Kohl has focused her professional energies on workers’ compensation and disability law through her nearly 30 years in practice. 

Attorney Kohl stated, "We started this blog because we are passionate about workers' compensation and workers' rights. It is a way to share some of what we've learned in our decades of legal experience with anyone concerned about workplace safety."

She is an active lecturer and author in the field, and has held several prestigious leadership positions, including serving as president of the Workers Injury and Law Advocacy Group. She is perennial listed in the publication Best Lawyers In America.

The lead article of the blog is entitled, "Workers' Compensation is all about Relationships," by Ryan Benharris. Mr. Benharrus stated, "Prevention of accidents should be the first step in establishing a successful workers’ compensation system."

Click here to visit: Workers' Injury Rights

ADAO To Brief US Senate on Asbestos Jan 19, 2012

As part of ADOA's education, advocacy, and community efforts, The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization ADAO has announced that it plans to hold an educational Senate Briefing, “Asbestos: The Impact on Public Health, the Environment, and the Economy” and meet with government officials in Washington, DC this week. A group of ADAO representatives including Dr. Arthur Frank, Dr. Barry Castleman, Brent Kynoch, Marilyn Amento, and Linda Reinstein will present the most up-to-date facts to members and staffers in the Senate so that they can make informed legislative and policy decisions. Their hope is to offer critical asbestos information and encourage bipartisan interagency collaboration to address a threat that affects all Americans. As always, ADAO will leverage social media to share its experiences. Follow ADAO in Twitter @Linda_ADAO as their intern, Spencer, tweets straight from the Senate Briefing!

Summary and Briefing Facts to Be Released Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 4:00pm

Insurance Group Changed With Fraudulently Syphoning Millions of Taxpayers Dollars

A New Hampshire insurance group has been charged by the State with improperly appropriating millions of dollars of taxpayers' funds to a workers' compensation insurance plan. The improper allocation is described in a petition filed by the State.

To read more click here:
Local Government Center denies it improperly used millions for workers' comp program
"The umbrella organization's activities have been under investigation for seeding a workers' compensation program through a surcharge that municipalities and their employees were paying through their involvement with the LGC's HealthTrust and Property-Liability programs.

"An investigation was conducted by the Secretary of State Bureau of Securities Regulation, which claimed the LGC misused the surcharge money and therefore owes the cities and towns which funded the seed money upward of $100 million.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

See also:
Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement (

Workers RIghts Protected Under Federal Law

NLRB finds that certain mandatory arbitration agreements violate federal labor law

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that it is a violation of federal labor law to require employees to sign arbitration agreements that prevent them from joining together to pursue employment-related legal claims in any forum, whether in arbitration or in court.

The decision examined one such agreement used by nationwide homebuilder D.R. Horton, under which employees waived their right to a judicial forum and agreed to bring all claims to an arbitrator on an individual basis. The agreement prohibited the arbitrator from consolidating claims, fashioning a class or collective action, or awarding relief to a group or class of employees

The Board found that the agreement unlawfully barred employees from engaging in “concerted activity” protected by the National Labor Relations Act. The Board emphasized that the ruling does not require class arbitration as long as the agreement leaves open a judicial forum for group claims.

Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Member Craig Becker joined in finding the agreement unlawful. Member Brian Hayes was recused from the case. The decision was finalized on Jan. 3, but was issued publicly by the agency today.

The Board sought briefs on the issue from interested parties last summer. More than a dozen amicus briefs were filed, and can be read on this case page.

The decision requires Horton to rescind the agreement or revise it to make clear to employees that they are not waiving their right to pursue a class or collective action in all forums.

Read the Editorial of the NY Times: Rights in the Workplace