Author Archives: OH&S News

Life Sciences Glovebox Heading to Space Station

Life Sciences Glovebox Heading to Space Station "The Life Sciences Glovebox is on its way to the space station to enable a host of biological and physiological studies, including new research into microgravity's long-term impact on the human body," asid Yancy Young, project manager of the glovebox at Marshall Space Flight Center. Sep 25, 2018 NASA reported Sept. 24 that its Life Sciences Glovebox is "officially the largest flight hardware ever launched in a 'soft-stowed' configuration in which the equipment is packed securely in protective foam." The glovebox is en route to the International Space Station, being carried there by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-IIB rocket with a planned arrival on Sept. 27. The Life Sciences Glovebox will allow hardware specialists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and partners around the world to conduct high-value biological research in Earth orbit. "The Life Sciences Glovebox is on its way to the space station to enable a host of biological and physiological studies, including new research into microgravity's long-term impact on the human body," Yancy Young, project manager of the glovebox at Marshall, said in NASA Marshall's news release. "This versatile facility not only will help us better protect human explorers on long voyages into deep space, but it also could aid medical and scientific advances benefiting the whole world." Boeing engineers at Marshall modified a refrigerator-freezer rack to house the core facility and used 3D printing to design key pieces of the rack to secure the unit in its protective foam clamshell, according to the release, which said the glovebox will be transferred to a zero-gravity stowage rack in the space station's Kibo module, where up to two crew members can conduct one or more experiments simultaneously, overseen in real time by project researchers on Earth. The JAXA H-IIB rocket was launched Sept. 22 from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The release said NASA is now determining the roster of science investigations lined up to make use of the glovebox starting as soon as late 2018. "We've already got more than a dozen glovebox experiments scheduled in 2019, with many more to follow," said Chris Butler, payload integration manager for the glovebox at Marshall. "That's OK with all of us. We love to be busy." Let's block ads! (Why?)

72,000 Insect Zappers Recalled for Shock Hazard

72,000 Insect Zappers Recalled for Shock Hazard Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Stinger Insect Zappers, unplug them, and contact Kaz to return the product for a full refund. The company has received three reports of units exhibiting internal grid detachment, but no injuries have been reported. Sep 25, 2018 Kaz USA Inc. of Marlborough, Mass., has recalled about 72,000 Stinger Insect Zappers because the units' insect kill grid can detach inside the housing, posing a shock hazard. The recall was announced Sept. 20. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Stinger Insect Zappers, unplug them, and contact Kaz to return the product for a full refund. The company has received three reports of units exhibiting internal grid detachment, but no injuries have been reported, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They can contact Kaz toll-free at 888-480-2880 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time weekdays or by visiting www.Kaz.com or www.stingerproducts.com and clicking on "Recall" for more information. The recall involves Stinger BK series Insect Zapper electric insect/mosquito zapper including the Stinger Insect Zapper (Model BK 110v3), the Stinger 3-in-1 Insect Zapper (Model BK310v3), and the Stinger 5-in-1 Insect & Mosquito Zapper (Model BK510v3). They are black or gray plastic and stand or hang vertically. The units are about 19 inches high and 6 inches wide and require an extension cord to operate outside. The recalled models have codes ending in YTG and Made in China printed on the silver label on the bottom of the product. They were sold at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and other stores nationwide and online from April 2018 through August 2018 for between $30 and $80. This recall is being conducted voluntarily by the company under CPSC's Fast Track Recall process. Fast Track recalls are initiated by firms that commit to work with CPSC to quickly announce the recall and remedy to protect consumers. Let's block ads! (Why?)

DARPA Holding Subterranean Challenge Competitors Day This Week

DARPA Holding Subterranean Challenge Competitors Day This Week The goal of this Challenge is to discover innovative solutions to rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban and municipal underground infrastructure, and natural cave networks. Sep 25, 2018 DARPA's Tactical Technology Office is holding a Competitors Day on Sept. 27 to communicate the vision and timeline of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The goal of this Challenge is to discover innovative solutions to rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban and municipal underground infrastructure, and natural cave networks. The Competitors Day is meant to engage potential competitors and provide a space for technical and operational exchange to support teaming. An in-person meeting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Louisville Mega Cavern in Louisville, Ky., and the event will be webcast for anyone who would like to participate remotely. Additional details, including registration instructions, are available here. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Application Deadline Extended for Rail Infrastructure & Safety Improvement Grants

Application Deadline Extended for Rail Infrastructure & Safety Improvement Grants "These CRISI grants will help make rail systems safer and more efficient for local communities throughout the country," said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. Sep 24, 2018 The Federal Railroad Administration recently extended the application deadline for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, which includes more than $318 million in grant funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. The extension was granted because of Hurricane Florence; the new deadline is 5 p.m. Eastern time on Oct. 12. "The Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Improvements grant program seeks to collaborate with private, state, and local investments to boost much-needed rail projects across the country, and we hope interested parties will apply by the stated deadline," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. The CRISI grant program directs much-needed investment to rural America. By directing at least 25 percent of available funds toward rural communities, DOT is able to safely connect and upgrade rural America's rail infrastructure. In addition, selection preference will be given to projects with a 50 percent non-federal funding match from any combination of private, state, or local funds, and DOT will consider how well the project aligns with key departmental objectives, including supporting economic vitality; leveraging federal funding; preparing for life-cycle costs; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes. "These CRISI grants will help make rail systems safer and more efficient for local communities throughout the country," said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. Let's block ads! (Why?)

John Hancock Adding Wellness Component to All Life Insurance Policies

John Hancock Adding Wellness Component to All Life Insurance Policies "We have smart phones, smart cars, and smart homes. It's time for smart life insurance that meets the changing needs of consumers. We believe offering Vitality on all life insurance policies, at no additional cost, is the right thing to do for our customers, our business, and society," said Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance. Sep 24, 2018 Calling it "a departure from the traditional life insurance business model," John Hancock announced Sept. 19 that all of its life insurance policies now will come with Vitality, a behavior change platform that rewards customers for the everyday steps they take to live longer and healthier lives. "Built on the convergence of behavioral economics and consumer technology, John Hancock Vitality policies incentivize healthier choices linked to physical activity, nutrition and mindfulness," the company's announcement stated. "For centuries, the insurance model has primarily provided financial protection for families after death, without enhancing the very quality it hinges on: life," explained Marianne Harrison, John Hancock's president and CEO. "We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only U.S. life insurance company to fully embrace behavioral-based wellness and leave the old way of doing business behind." As for why it took this step now, the announcement said change is needed because "America's health is at risk." The company began offering Vitality as part of its overall set of offerings in 2015 in response to "a troubling shift in Americans' health: lifestyle diseases are the leading cause of death. According to the Oxford Health Alliance, just four choices — physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol and smoking — now cause more than 60 percent of deaths and 80 percent of the disease burden globally." So the company "turned to Vitality and its pairing of technology, incentives and science to inform and reward customers for making healthier choices every day." And John Hancock said this is working: To date, worldwide Vitality policyholders are living 13-21 years longer than the rest of the insured population and generate 30 percent lower hospitalization costs than the rest of the insured population, while John Hancock Vitality policyholders take nearly twice as many steps as the average American; have logged more than 3 million healthy activities, including walking, swimming, and biking; and engage with the program approximately 576 times per year. Customers with traditional insurance engage with their life insurance company one or two times per year, on average. "The remarkable results of our Vitality offering convinced us this is the only path forward for the industry," said Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance. "We have smart phones, smart cars, and smart homes. It's time for smart life insurance that meets the changing needs of consumers. We believe offering Vitality on all life insurance policies, at no additional cost, is the right thing to do for our customers, our business, and society. We believe this is the future of our industry, and I encourage other insurance companies to follow suit." Let's block ads! (Why?)

'Boston Med' Filming Results in HIPAA Settlements

'Boston Med' Filming Results in HIPAA Settlements Three health care organizations are paying $999,000 in this case, which is the second HIPAA case involving an ABC medical documentary television series. OCR reached a settlement in April 2016 with New York-Presbyterian Hospital in association with the filming of "NY Med." Sep 24, 2018 The federal Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights announced Sept. 20 that it has reached separate settlements with Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital for compromising the privacy of patients' protected health information by inviting film crews on premises to film "Boston Med," an ABC television network documentary series, without first obtaining authorization from patients. Collectively, the three health care organizations have paid OCR $999,000 to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. This is the second HIPAA case involving an ABC medical documentary television series, following OCR's April 16, 2016, settlement with New York-Presbyterian Hospital in association with the filming of "NY Med." "Patients in hospitals expect to encounter doctors and nurses when getting treatment, not film crews recording them at their most private and vulnerable moments," said Roger Severino, the OCR director. "Hospitals must get authorization from patients before allowing strangers to have access to patients and their medical information." To resolve potential HIPAA violations, BMC has paid OCR $100,000, BWH has paid OCR $384,000, and MGH has paid OCR $515,000. Each entity will provide workforce training as part of a corrective action plan that will include OCR's guidance on disclosures to film and media. Let's block ads! (Why?)

L&I Proposes 5 Percent Reduction in 2019 Comp Rates

L&I Proposes 5 Percent Reduction in 2019 Comp Rates "We've seen a big drop in injuries at work in our state since 2012. And that's great news because preventing injuries and making workplaces safe is our number one goal," said L&I Director Joel Sacks. Sep 21, 2018 The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has proposed a 5 percent reduction in the average premium employers pay for workers' compensation insurance in 2019. If it is approved, the rate decrease would be the largest drop since 2007 and would mean employers would pay an average of about $58 less a year per employee for workers' comp coverage; employees would pay about $6 less a year for their share of the cost. L&I reported that the proposed decrease would mean Washington workers and employers, combined, pay $136 million less in premiums. The public will have an opportunity to provide input about the rate proposal before a final decision is made in December. L&I Director Joel Sacks said decreases in work-related injuries, along with L&I initiatives to improve outcomes for injured workers and reduce costs, have made the system healthier and are contributing to the proposed decrease. "We've seen a big drop in injuries at work in our state since 2012. And that's great news because preventing injuries and making workplaces safe is our number one goal," he said. "Along with that, we're doing a better job helping injured workers heal and return to work. That's good for workers and employers and helps us lower the cost of workers' compensation coverage." One example of an effort that's helping workers and employers is L&I's Stay at Work Program, which pays for some of the costs for employers to keep injured workers in light-duty jobs until they fully recover. Since 2012, the program has provided $72 million to employers, which has helped provide 27,000 workers with light-duty jobs while they heal. Every fall, L&I determines the proposed rate for the following year by looking at several factors, including expected workers' compensation payouts, the size of the contingency reserve, wage inflation, and other financial indicators. L&I will host three public hearings on the proposed 2019 rates: Tumwater, Oct. 30, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries headquarters Tukwila, Oct. 30, 1 p.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries Tukwila office Spokane Valley, Oct. 31, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace People also can comment in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, administrative regulations analyst, P.O. Box 41448, Olympia, WA 98504-4148; or email [email protected] Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2018. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Two States Investigating Outbreak of Psittacosis at Poultry Plants

Two States Investigating Outbreak of Psittacosis at Poultry Plants According to CDC, the latest data suggest the outbreak is only affecting people who work at the identified poultry slaughter plants, but public health officials are investigating whether other people exposed to chickens that were shipped to the affected plants got sick. Sep 21, 2018 The Virginia and Georgia departments of health are investigating a multistate outbreak of psittacosis occurring at two poultry slaughter plants owned by a single corporation, and CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are assisting with their investigation, CDC reported Sept. 19. CDC reported it is working with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service to identify other, similar plants. Chlamydia psittaci, the type of bacteria that causes psittacosis, was detected by a laboratory test in 10 people. Additional illnesses in workers at the two plants have been identified but haven't been confirmed by a laboratory. No deaths have been reported, according to CDC's release. It says the number of cases is likely to change, and investigators are still working to understand why the outbreak occurred. Both plants suspended operations for cleaning: On Sept. 8, the Virginia plant did, and it reopened Sept. 18. The Georgia plant suspended operations on Sept. 15 and reopened Sept. 19. According to CDC, the latest data suggest the outbreak is only affecting people who work at the identified poultry slaughter plants, but public health officials are investigating whether other people exposed to chickens, such as farmers and truck drivers, that were shipped to the affected plants got sick. "At this time, investigators do not believe people working outside of this industry or consumers are at risk," the release said. The most common way someone gets infected with the bacteria that cause psittacosis is by breathing in dust containing dried secretions (e.g., droppings, respiratory) from infected birds. CDC noted it is rare for psittacosis to spread from person to person, and in this outbreak, infection among family members who are not workers at the affected plants has not been reported. Psittacosis usually causes mild illness in people, with its most common symptoms including fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, and a dry cough. But it can cause pneumonia and, in rare cases, death. Let's block ads! (Why?)

IAEA's Third Robotics Challenge Under Way

IAEA's Third Robotics Challenge Under Way "Robots have a multitude of game-changing applications across industry, and there are major safety, productivity and efficiency gains to be made from adopting them," said Alberto Elfes, chief research scientist and group leader for robotics at CSIRO's Data61. Sep 21, 2018 During the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference taking place this week in Vienna, Austria, representatives from more than 25 countries discussed innovative ideas Sept. 19 on how the field of robotics can contribute to nuclear safeguards and verification. The meeting came two months before the end of IAEA's third Robotics Challenge, which is a crowdsourcing initiative aimed at discovering new technologies that could be used to enhance IAEA's work in that area. IAEA's news release about the meeting noted that nuclear safeguards inspectors often need to take repetitive measurements in places that are difficult to access and may have elevated radiation levels. Robotics could assist nuclear safeguards inspectors in being more effective and efficient. "Collecting data in the field is an area of safeguards work that is manual and resource intensive, both for the IAEA and for the operator," said Dimitri Finker, Technology Foresight Specialist in the Department of Safeguards. "The use of robotics could free up inspector time to focus on analyzing data." The third Robotics Challenge will conclude this fall with a final field test. The winning team's technology will then be considered for use in safeguards verification activities. The first crowdsourcing challenge, held in 2016, focused on identifying enhanced image processing techniques for an existing safeguards instrument, the Improved Cherenkov Viewing Device, which is used to verify spent fuel after its removal from the reactor core and transfer to underwater storage. The ICVD filters out all light except for some of the ultraviolet light (referred to as the Cherenkov glow) emitted by spent fuel when underwater, allowing safeguards inspectors to confirm that the declared number of spent fuel assemblies is present. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Caltrans Maintenance Worker Dies in Fall

Caltrans Maintenance Worker Dies in Fall William Casdorph is the 189th Caltrans employee to lose his life on the job, according to a statement from Gov. Jerry Brown. Casdorph was based at the Kearny Mesa Maintenance facility in San Diego and was a 19-year veteran of Caltrans. Sep 20, 2018 The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, is mourning the death of Maintenance Leadworker William Casdorph, 57. According to the agency's Sept. 19 news release, Casdorph and his crew were doing maintenance work on the southbound State Route 163 overcrossing to southbound Interstate 805 in San Diego when he fell. He sustained major injuries and died at a hospital. "Our Caltrans family is grieving today," Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said. "Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to Mr. Casdorph's family and all those who worked with him." Casdorph is the 189th Caltrans employee to lose his life on the job, according to a statement from Gov. Jerry Brown. Casdorph was based at the Kearny Mesa Maintenance facility in San Diego and was a 19-year veteran of Caltrans. He leaves behind a wife, Maria, and daughters Pricilla, Wendy, and Ana. "Anne and I mourn the loss of Caltrans Highway Maintenance Leadworker William D. Casdorph, a dedicated public servant who worked to make our roads safer for nearly two decades. On behalf of all Californians, we extend our deep condolences to his family, friends and the Caltrans community as they struggle to cope with this sudden loss," Brown said in his statement. It said in honor of Casdorph, flags at the state capitol are being flown at half-staff. Let's block ads! (Why?)