ADAAA New Interpretion of Disability Goes Into Effect May 25th, 2011

ADA logo wheelchair handicap access
New Rules!

The EEOCs final regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) were published in the Federal Register recently (3/25/11) and go into affect May 25, 2011. The final regulations reflect significant changes in the interpretation of the ADAs definition of “disability” but not in the actual definition of the term “disability.”

The ADAs definition of the term “disability” has not changed. The ADA believes a disability to be a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability. However, the law makes major changes in how those terms are interpreted:
1.      An impairment does not need to prevent or significantly restrict performance of a major life activity to be considered a disability.
2.      What is considered an impairment must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA
3.      “Mitigating measures,” such as medication and assistive devices like hearing aids, must not be considered when determining whether someone has a disability (with the exception of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.)
4.      The term “major life activities” includes “major bodily functions.”
5.      Impairments that are episodic, such as epilepsy, or in remission, such as cancer, are disabilities if they would be substantially limiting when active.

Distracted Driving is a Triple Threat for Employers

Everyone seems to be jumping on the distracted driving bandwagon, including OSHA.

So here are some links to good resources on what employers should be aware of and how to implement effective awareness and prevention programs.

This one bullet point from the ZoomSafer white paper on the topic ought to get your attention:

On-the-job crashes cost employers over $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality!

You can watch a webinar panel discussion of the topic here.

Click the chart below or this LINK to download a PDF version.

chart of total coast of distracted driving to employers

Heat Illness Training is Front Burner in CA

A heat index chart

Heat Illness Prevention in Agriculture Gets Focus in California

Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League, and 23 other agricultural organizations are teaming up for this years “Heat Illness Prevention in Agriculture” training events.
The free sessions began recently in Fresno, Calif., and will continue throughout the spring and summer at locations across the state. The goal is to reduce heat- related fatalities and gain a greater level of compliance in the agriculture community through training programs for growers, farm labor contractors, and supervisors.
The training will provide information about employers responsibilities under Californias Heat Illness Prevention Standard and will explain changes made to the regulation last August that are now in effect.
Cal/OSHA said its outreach, education, and enforcement have led to a measurable increase in the number of employers who are complying with the regulations, up from 35 percent in 2006, to 76 percent in 2010. As a result, heat- related deaths have declined from 12 in 2005 to two last year.
John Duncan, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA, said the heat illness prevention outreach effort is one of the most successful safety education efforts in Cal/OSHAs history.
It is clear that our heat illness training and enforcement efforts are saving lives and resulting in increased compliance among employers,” Duncan said. “Our efforts thus far have laid the groundwork to carry this training initiative forward and to expand this type of collaboration into other industries. These efforts will continue until we reach everyone who works out in the fields, on construction sites, anywhere out in the elements.”
Cal/OSHA and its partners in agriculture conducted more than two dozen heat illness prevention training seminars in California last year. Some 1,600 agriculture employers and supervisors attended the training events that are held in both English and Spanish. Those employers passed the information on to an estimated 400,000 workers.
Every year since we have been offering this training, we find more farm supervisors and labor contractors complying with heat illness regulations. More employers are giving the provision to workers of water, shade, and training the full attention it needs,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “There is no doubt this outreach effort is having a positive impact, but we still have work to do in order to reach our goal of making worker safety and health have the prominence in workplace culture that we all want to see.”
In 2005, California became the first state to develop a safety and health regulation to protect workers from heat illness.

And You Thought Drowning Was the Only Worry!

Cat in a swim suit
Me-ouch!

Swimmer’s ear medical costs total $500M a year

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

ATLANTA – The first national estimates of swimmer’s ear say it causes about 2.4 million trips to doctors and hospitals in a year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said swimmer’s ear cases amounted to about $500 million in annual medical costs — or roughly $200 per visit.

Some people get the problem repeatedly, and the CDC didn’t estimate how many Americans suffer swimmer’s ear each year. But according to calculations by The Associated Press based on CDC statistics, more than 2 million get it.

Swimmer’s ear is an itchy, painful, outer-ear infection that can occur when bacteria in swimming water get through breaks in the skin. It’s commonly treated with antibiotic ear drops.

More than half the cases were in adults. The CDC released the statistics Thursday.

Digital Dieting?

Digital body weight scale
"You're iPhone told me yesterday."

There is a whole new wave of websites and mobile apps, either as standalone tools or as a part of online weight loss programs.

AH Mobile is a new one we’ve just spotted. The catch is you have to be a member of their online weight loss program, but the “basic” membership is free. Their pitch?

“Knowledge is power, and many of us need to feel empowered before making positive and lasting lifestyle changes. On AH mobile, you will discover the five components of health and wellness, including strength training, cardio exercise, weight management, proper nutrition, and flexibility. Plus, it has loads of workout templates and tutorials, informative blogs, exercise videos, meal plans, and health recipes. AH mobile will help you set goals and establish a daily calorie budget. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!”

AH mobile includes the ability to:
• Track your health with our comprehensive database of over 150,000+ foods and activities.
• Quickly add custom food or activity your daily log.
• Easily add favorite foods with previous meals display.
• Daily calorie budget overview displays current status.
• Video tutorials of gym exercises.
• Monitor your stats with on-the-go updates to weight, blood pressure, measurements, and more.
• No advertisements, ever. (seriously)

In addition, you can use AnytimeHealth.com to:
• Plan workouts with easy-to-follow tutorial videos.
• Set goals to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
• Get community support.
• Complete a health risk assessment.
• Get expert advice about any health or wellness topic.
• Win big with Anytime Health fun contests.
• Get reminders sent to your email.

The Anytime Health iPhone app is available at no cost to Anytime Fitness members and premium-level members.

Finger Pointing Nails Salons as Hazardous

Chemicals May Be Risky to Nail Salon Workers

Study: Workers Are Exposed to Unsafe Levels of the Chemical Toluene
By Matt McMillen
WebMD Health News
Harmful chemicals may be endangering the health of Vietnamese nail salon workers, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and Asian Health Services report finding unsafe levels of toluene, a solvent linked to neurological, reproductive, and endocrine damage, and other chemicals, including one that has been banned by the FDA since 1974.

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research team recruited 80 workers, all of whom were Vietnamese women, at 20 different salons — half of them in Oakland, Calif. — to participate in the study. Each of them wore a monitor attached to a shirt or coat collar. Over the course of each shift, the monitor would measure concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl acetate.

happy face finger nails
Colorful, happy & deadly

High Levels of Risky Chemical

The researchers found that the average toluene levels were 0.15 parts per million, nearly twice the amount recommended by the California Environmental Protection Agency for indoor air, according to the study.

In addition to the samples taken from the workers’ monitors, they also measured the ambient air in three of the salons being studied. They found notable levels of methyl methacrylate, which has been banned for decades.

Finally, the salon workers were given a questionnaire in which they were asked to identify any health symptoms they had experienced while working. The most frequent complaints common among salon workers included irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, shortness of breath, nausea, and coughing.

“This really explains why we have been hearing from salon workers about the health problems that they have,” study researcher Thu Quach, PhD, MPH, says of the Vietnamese women who make up most of the salon workforce in California.

While Quach’s study focused on workers in California, reports of adverse health effects among Vietnamese salon workers have been a concern in other parts of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, Houston, and Boston.

“It’s definitely a national issue,” says Julia Liou, MPH, manager of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, an organization founded in 2005 to address the health and safety concerns among California salon workers. “We’re concerned about their cumulative, chronic, and long-term health problems.”

Nail salon workers may be at heightened risk of health problems because they are exposed to the chemicals on a daily basis. However, Quach points out, the toxins are in the nail care products, which means that customers are exposed as well, albeit to a much lesser extent.

In addition to the acute symptoms that salon workers suffer, Quach is concerned about potential long-term health risks.

“I’m really very interested in following the long term health outcomes of these women.”

Seeing Spots?

Click graphic to dowload PDF

The United States seems to be on track to have more measles cases than any year in more than a decade,
with virtually all cases linked to other countries, including Europe where there’s a big outbreak.

Already there have been 89 cases reported so far. The U.S. normally sees only about 50 cases of measles in a year thanks to vaccinations.

Health officials are reluctant to make predictions, but acknowledge the pace of reports is unusually hot.

“It’s hard to say, but we’re certainly getting a lot,” said Dr. Greg Wallace, who leads the measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Europe, especially France, has been hit hard by measles, with more than 6,500 cases reported in 33 nations. International health officials are blaming it on the failure to vaccinate all children.

Just about all U.S. outbreaks were sparked by people bringing it here from other countries. This week, international health officials posted an alert urging travelers everywhere to get the recommended two doses of vaccine before flying overseas.

“The risk of getting infection is very high,” said Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, an immunization expert with the Pan American Health Organization.

In the U.S., the worst year for measles in the last decade was 2008, when 140 cases were reported. There have been no measles deaths this year, but health officials warn the disease can be dangerous.

Measles is highly contagious and up to 90 percent of people exposed to an infected person get sick, experts say. The virus spreads easily through the air, and in closed rooms, infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves.

Continue reading Seeing Spots?