CA DIR Honors Workers’ Memorial Day

CA DIR Honors Workers’ Memorial Day and Cal/OSHA’s Commitment to Workplace Safety


Workers' Safety Day 2016 graphicApril 28, 2016, Oakland, CA –

Yesterday, on Workers’ Memorial Day 2016, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) remembered the men and women who have lost their lives and renews its 43 year commitment to safe and healthful workplaces.

This international day of remembrance is held annually on April 28, the date Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which promises every worker the right to a safe job.

“Worker deaths and injuries serve as poignant reminders about the critical importance of workplace safety measures,” said DIR Director Christine Baker.  “We are dedicated to working with workers and employers to prevent on-the-job injuries and deaths.”

Cal/OSHA, a division of DIR, was established in 1973 as a state-run program to enforce effective standards, help employers provide safe working conditions, and conduct research, education and training in occupational safety and health. It was the first in the nation to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) standard in 1991 and the first to adopt a heat illness prevention regulation in 2005, followed by high-heat regulations in 2010 for industries that include agriculture, construction, landscaping, and oil and gas extraction.


6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

April 21, 2016 by Michael B. Stack

photo showing two employees demostrating proper lifting techniqueOne of the most common causes of workers compensation claims is the improper lifting of a heavy object by an employee. It is also one of the easiest workers compensation claims to avoid. When an employee injures a back, it is usually not the heavy weight, but the method of lifting the weight that was improper. These back injuries can be avoided. The teaching of proper lifting techniques, to any employee who may be called upon to physically move objects, is an essential part of any good safety program.

There are at least 6 common things that employees do that cause them to hurt their back. They are (this is not an all inclusive list)

• Twisting while lifting
• Holding the object too far away from the body
• Lifting with the back bent
• Contorting the body to lift in an unnatural way
• Losing their balance while lifting
• Not coordinating their lift with other co-worker(s)

Twisting while Lifting

When a heavy object needs to be moved from a floor or other level to a higher level, the employee will often be paralleled to the higher level when the object is picked up and will have to twist to set the object on the higher level (shelf, cart, conveyor belt, etc.). The employee should approach the object perpendicular to the higher level where the object is going to be placed, with the employee, the object and the higher level in a straight line. This puts the object in the middle between the employee and the higher level, allowing the employee to lift the object without twisting. It also allows the employee to have the head facing straight forward to keep all parts of the spine in a straight line.

Holding the Object Too Far from the Body

Sometimes employees just do not want to get dirty. If the object is dirty, greasy, oily, etc., the employee may be inclined to try to lift the object while holding the object away from the body. This is difficult to do with light objects and a recipe for an injury with heavy objects. The further the object is from the body, the harder it is too lift and the more strain it places on the body. The employees need to be taught to hold the object they lift as close to the body as possible to avoid strain on the back.
Continue reading 6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

Stroke App Helps Patients Speak Again Using iPad-Based Language Therapy

Brian Chau, MD | April 14, 2016

app for helping stoke patients speak againFrom the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge comes a new study on iPad speech therapy for patient’s with chronic aphasia resulting from a stroke. It follows other studies we’ve covered using gamification apps in stroke care.

The road to recovery after a stroke can be tough in part because the effects of the stroke often manifest in ways that have a profound impact on day to day life. While the ubiquity and accessibility mobile technology & apps make them appealing platforms through which to deliver support and therapy, the quality of stroke apps on the market now leaves much to be desired. Clearly there is a need for more validated stroke apps.

In this study, researchers recruited patients who were at least 1-year post left MCA stroke, with English as their first-language, and expressive (Broca’s) aphasia from a 200-patient sample at the Addenbrookes Hospital stroke service in the UK. Continue reading Stroke App Helps Patients Speak Again Using iPad-Based Language Therapy

Sharing Economy, Technology Advances, and Workers’ Compensation

sharing economy iconAt the 2016 WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference, Dr Robert Hartwig from Insurance Information Institute presented a session focusing on the impact the sharing economy is having on workers’ compensation. The sharing economy is transforming the American workforce and will transform the property/casualty insurance industry across all lines.

Technology provides a unique opportunity to match labor to jobs. Workers with time and skill can be paired with those seeking such services. People can use an app to find people to complete a variety of tasks. We are also seeing significant growth in temporary workers over the last 6 years. That creates more people who are interested in supplementing their employment and the on-demand economy provides a tremendous avenue for this.

The fundamental issue with workers in the on-demand economy is whether they are truly independent contractors or whether they are employees of the companies they are working with. The software driven companies who thrive in the the on-demand economy view themselves as platforms rather than employers. However, we are already seeing variation in how states view these issues. Some states have ruled that Uber drivers to be employee’s of Uber, while other States have ruled they are independent contractors.

42% of Americans have used the sharing economy, while 22% of Americans have offered services through the shared economy. Statistically speaking, most of those workers offering on-demand services are young urban dwellers who are usually minorities. There is also a large segment of older individuals providing these serves as they look to supplement their retirement income.


Workplace mHealth Program Shows Improvement In Step Count, Weight Loss

Satish Misra, MD | April 6, 2016

imagesA new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) has shown that a team-based workplace mHealth challenge using pedometers and online tools can get people moving more and help them lose weight.

Sedentary lifestyles, particularly in the United States, are a big contributor to a variety of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. There’s a lot of enthusiasm around using mobile technology to help get people moving more, highlighted in a recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association. And the data is starting to catch up with that enthusiasm.

The mActive study recently showed improvements in step counts with an intervention using adaptive, personalized text messaging paired with a connected pedometer.

This study looked at Stepathlon, a workplace mHealth program that gives employees pedometers, gets them together in teams, and sets up a 100-day competition to increase activity and step counts. Participants came from nearly 500 employers in 64 countries, the majority of whom were from low and middle income countries. Using a website or a mobile app, participants could track the leaderboard, access personalized tools for self monitoring, and get health & fitness tips. Continue reading Workplace mHealth Program Shows Improvement In Step Count, Weight Loss

Bad Wrecks Put Regulatory Spotlight on Sleep Apnea

By Philip A Janquart 03/15/2016

photo of worker wired for obstructive sleep apnea testAs part of a transportation-security overhaul, federal regulators have requested data on safety workers in the rail and highway industries who suffer from sleep apnea.

Published Friday in the Federal Register, the notice comes after the National Transportation Safety Board found that drivers and engineers behind various fatal accidents over the years have suffered from the disorder.

A common problem for middle-age and older individuals, as well as those who are overweight, obstructive sleep apnea or OSA causes people to repeatedly stop and start breathing while they sleep.

Because disrupted breathing patterns make sleep less restful, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration say they plan to treat OSA as “a critical safety issue that can affect operations in all modes of travel in the transportation industry.”

“Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties,” the agencies said in their notice of proposed rulemaking.
Continue reading Bad Wrecks Put Regulatory Spotlight on Sleep Apnea

Ransomware To Wreak Havoc In 2016

Ransomware 101, infographic
Click graphic to download guide

March 21, 2016 | Jack McCarthy – Contributing Writer

Ransomware attacks on healthcare and other organizations “will wreak havoc on America’s critical infrastructure community,” according to a new report that also found the malware is now so prevalent it’s creating an economy of its own.

“New attacks will become common while unattended vulnerabilities that were silently exploited in 2015 will enable invisible adversaries to capitalize upon positions that they have previously laid claim,” the report published by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology explained.

In the ransomware economy, criminals are using pricing calculations to target victims based on the most efficient ways to rake in money and, what’s more, criminals understand and engineer the pressures to put on victims.

The report said ransomware hackers are discovering the right price to charge for targeted industries and individuals, citing Symantec research that lists the average ransom paid by businesses at about $10,000.
Continue reading Ransomware To Wreak Havoc In 2016

Crowdsourcing A Community of “Medical Detectives!”

Brian Chau, MD | March 25, 2016

video interview about medical diagnosis app CrowdMedWould you trust a website for a diagnosis? Patient “Hope” recently did and her experience was featured in ReplyAll, a popular podcast that focuses on Internet culture and tech stories. She utilized a variety of sources, after frustrations with her physician(s), and finally ended up using CrowdMed.

CrowdMed is, as its name clearly notes, a crowd-sourced medical diagnosis website. Patients set up an account, post their symptoms, and get feedback from “Medical Detectives” or MDs (just about anyone, ranging from medical students to nurses to physicians and just interested individuals).

While the exact number of Medical Detectives is difficult to ascertain, they frequently have a reported medical background (64%), and are primarily from the United States (61%, with over 21 countries represented in total). CrowdMed has received considerable positive media attention, including in PBS, The Economist, and PopSci, with little coverage in traditional medical publications.

It’s been well recognized that patients are increasingly turning to health apps and websites for medical information. When it comes to finding a diagnosis, there are growing numbers of increasingly sophisticated symptom checkers. Continue reading Crowdsourcing A Community of “Medical Detectives!”