Author Archives: Rod Rehm

Night Shift Work Causally Linked to an Increase in Breast Cancer

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman, from Jon L Gelman LLC, a respected colleague in New Jersey. Various authors of this blog have covered some of the risks that workers are exposed to on a regular basis. Those risks can lead to occupational diseases, which include certain types of cancer.

This study is one that makes some conclusions about how long-term night shift work can be linked to some breast cancers. So in addition to shift work causing sleep deficits, there is also concern about other effects shift work can have on a person’s physical body, especially in the long-term sense.

If someone you know has a medical condition that they think is work-related, it may be covered by workers’ compensation. But the relationships that the medical condition or even a worker’s death has to the workplace must be proven, attorney Brody Ockander wrote in a previous blog post. Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney with questions about a specific situation.

Regardless of the shift you work, have a safe and productive week.

Working at night increases the risk of breast cancer according to a recent study.

Objectives The potential mechanisms that link night-shift work with breast cancer have been extensively discussed. Exposure to light at night (LAN) depletes melatonin that has oncostatic and anti-estrogenic properties and may lead to a modified expression of estrogen receptor (ER) α. Here, we explored the association between shift work and breast cancer in subgroups of patients with ER-positive and -negative tumors.

Methods GENICA (Gene–ENvironment Interaction and breast CAncer) is a population-based case–control study on breast cancer with detailed information on shift work from 857 breast cancer cases and 892 controls. ER status was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. Associations between night-shift work and ER-positive and -negative breast cancer were analyzed with conditional logistic regression models, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results ER status was assessed for 827 cases and was positive in 653 and negative in 174 breast tumors. Overall, 49 cases and 54 controls were “ever employed” in shift work including night shifts for ≥1 year. In total, “ever shift work” and “ever night work” were not associated with an elevated risk of ER-positive or -negative breast tumors. Night work for ≥20 years was associated with a significantly elevated risk of ER-negative breast cancer [odds ratio (OR) 4.73, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.22–18.36].

Conclusions Our case–control study suggests that long-term night-shift work is associated with an increased risk of ER-negative breast cancers. Further studies on histological subtypes and the analysis of other potentially relevant factors are crucial for discovering putative mechanisms

The report:  Rabstein SHarth VPesch BPallapies DLotz AJustenhoven CBaisch C,Schiffermann MHaas SFischer H-PHeinze EPierl CBrauch HHamann UKo Y,Brüning T, “Night work and breast cancer estrogen receptor status – results from the German GENICA study”, Scand J Work Environ Health 2013;39(5):448-455 doi:10.5271/sjweh.3360,  2010;36(2):163-179 2010;36(2):134-141
 
Read more ablout “breast cancer” and workers’ compensation:
Jul 02, 2013
Objectives Long-term night work has been suggested as a risk factor for breast cancer; however, additional studies with more comprehensive methods of exposure assessment to capture the diversity of shift patterns are …
 
Dec 15, 2012
A semiconductor plant worker, who had been exposed to solvents and radiation while working 5 years at a semiconductor factory in South Korea has been held to have suffered an compensable disease related to her …
 
Mar 18, 2011
Fire fighters in Canada are supporting legislation that would establish a legal presumption that breast cancer is an occupationally related illness. The legislation also creates a presumption that 3 other cancers (skin, prostate …
 
Dec 05, 2012
Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach – Institute of Medicine: “With more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2011, many wonder about the role …
 

A Real Mess

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Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from daviddepaolo.blogspot.com

Does fraud really matter?

Respected colleague Leonard Jernigan from North Carolina writes a yearly blog post about fraud in workers’ compensation. His current record over the five years he’s written this post is that for each top 10 list, the largest dollar amounts stolen are in the category of employer fraud, except for one employee incident, which happened this last year, so the record is 49 employers, 1 employee.

The very complicated article below definitely falls into the employer fraud category. David DePaolo writes about an incredibly complex situation that affected workers, employers and the greater society in a number of states, including Oklahoma, which made a major change to the workers’ compensation system last year.

“And who knows how much of the failure of Park Avenue and Imperial Casualty and Indemnity Co. contributed to that state’s abysmal rate work comp insurance cost ranking leading up to last year’s historic opt-out legislation,” he wrote in the article.

My point is that when anyone commits fraud in a workers’ compensation system, regardless of the state, there can be far-reaching consequences for society being stuck with the bills of that fraud and for injured workers and also employers who play by the rules. In addition, absorbing the cost of that fraud can also be far-reaching, even potentially contributing to changes to an entire workers’ compensation system.

Just ask Oklahoma.

Corporate fraud is a major problem in the workers’ compensation system. Today’s guest post authored by David DePaola is shared from http://daviddepaolo.blogspot.com and highlights a very serious problem with the nation’s workers’ compensation system.
 
What do Oklahoma, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Florida have in common?

If it’s workers’ compensation, then the connection is a far reaching scheme involving millions of dollars, failed insurance companies and professional employer organizations.

A federal grand jury in New York back in October 2012 indicted Wilbur Anthony Huff, principal behind a couple of professional employer organizations, Matthew Morris, Park Avenue Bank’s former senior vice  president, and Allen Reichman, the former director of investments at New York investment house Oppenheimer & Co. 

that Huff and Morris engaged with former bank president and Chief Executive Officer Charles Antonucci in an elaborate conspiracy to plunder Park Avenue Property and Casualty, formerly known as Providence Property and Casualty Insurance Co., and its subsidiary, Imperial Casualty and Indemnity, and artificially inflate the bank’s assets to secure funding from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release that Huff, who secretly controlled South Florida PEOs O2HR and Certified HR Services, was at the “vortex of fraud” in a series of schemes involving more than $100…

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Proposed Silica Standard Needs to Be Strengthened

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Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.aflcio.org

Strengthening the silica standard has been discussed and delayed for far too long. In fact, I have written about this issue on Facebook and other social media, but more work needs to be done to make these proposed standards both stronger and implemented.

In the past 18 months or so, National Public Radio has also had a couple of excellent in-depth reports on the dangers of silica in the workplace. While this discussion over updating standards from the 1970s has been ongoing, a relatively new industry, fracking, has been identified as being a likely problem for exposure that “has been shown to sometimes lead to serious diseases like silicosis and cancer,” according to this NPR report. Although workers wore respirators, there was a lot of silica dust in the air at job sites studied relatively recently. “… About one-third of the air samples they collected had such high levels of silica, the type of respirators typically worn wouldn’t offer enough protection.”

This issue is important to folks in Nebraska and Iowa because of the sand and gravel industries in our states and the exposure that workers have from other industrial uses. “A number of employer groups in such industries as sand and gravel, brick, fracking where silica dust is prevalent, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate groups have or will testify against the proposed rule …”

I think this rule is essential to protecting workers’ health. And it needs to be as strong as scientific best practices suggest. I would urge OSHA to implement the proposals after years of discussion. Because, as the article below says, “Every day that a final standard is delayed, workers will continue to be at increased risk of disease and death.”

Trying to prevent those tragic results calls for action now.

 
 

While the AFL-CIO “strongly supports” a proposed new rule that would limit workers’ exposure to silica dust, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Peg Seminario outlined several areas that should be strengthened to provide better worker protection from deadly silicosis and other diseases caused by silica exposure.

Testifying before an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hearing, Seminario noted that changes to the current exposure standard—now more than 40 years old—were first proposed in 1997 and that when the proposed new standard was sent for review to the Office of Management and Budget in 1991, it lingered there for two-and-a-half years.

Every day that a final standard is delayed, workers will continue to be at increased risk of disease and death.

Every year some 2 million workers are exposed to silica dust and, according to public health experts, more than 7,000 workers develop silicosis and 200 die each year as a result of this disabling lung disease. Silicosis literally suffocates workers to death. Silica is also linked to deaths from lung cancer, pulmonary and kidney diseases.

Seminario said that permissible exposure limit in the proposed standard while set at half the current level is still too high. She urged that a stricter standard be included in the final and said that other provisions in the standard should be strengthened, including:

  • Establishing regulated work areas to limit the…

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Deadline for ACA Sign Up Is Monday

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Monday, March 31, is the deadline to enroll for coverage this year through the Affordable Care Act’s process. There’s a lot of information out there, and it can be extremely overwhelming. For procrastinators, here are some good places to start, hopefully help to beat the deadline, and most importantly, enroll in insurance coverage.

A starting place is healthcare.gov. Be sure to use the .gov, as other places (.com, .net, etc.) aren’t actually the insurance exchange and at worst, can be scams. From there, if things get confusing, as insurance often does, another option is to call 800-318-2596 for help, according to healthcare.gov. Or, by clicking on “Find local help” and providing a zip code, there are more direct ways to get ahold of someone and ask questions.

The site itself answers such questions as what kind of coverage a person qualifies for when the marketplace application is filled out. Unfortunately, Nebraska is one of the states that has chosen to not expand Medicaid, so clicking on the link about what Medicaid expansion means will help explain how this affect people. However, many folks are qualifying for subsidies, which are automatically applied to specific plans, often the silver level, and help people afford more comprehensive coverage, with the subsidies based on income. Note that the one-page guide recommends applying either online or by phone, as a paper application won’t be processed quick enough to meet Monday’s deadline.

Here’s an example of how the ACA affects people in one industry that the firm works with through the website www.truckerlawyers.com. The Smiths, who are strong advocates for drivers, recently had both a blog post and a podcast about options for truckers, so follow the links to explore those resources. This information also generally applies to those who aren’t truckers, too.

Why should a person go to the effort? Because there are actually financial and societal benefits to having health insurance, especially if something happens and a person has medical needs.

An editorial in the Kansas City Star recently argued a number of points about the wisdom of having insurance coverage. As has been mentioned before in this blog, folks having health insurance coverage benefits more than just the individual.

“You’ll be pulling your weight. Americans pick up the costs of caring for uninsured patients in the form of higher insurance premiums, higher taxes and more expensive care.”

Just as it’s important for employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, individuals – and their families – should have health insurance to try to plan for the unknown.

Suit: Company has history of mishandling chemicals

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Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from theadvocate.com. I noticed this article recently because OSHA has extended its comment period on standards tied to improving chemical safety after the West, Texas, explosion. That process is in response to an executive order “which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security,” according to the link above.

If OSHA protects workers to the greatest extent possible, that may also help consumers and those who live by these chemical plants. The lawsuit written about below was a result of an explosion involving chemicals in Oklahoma that happened after the West explosion. Some of the problems that workers faced, maybe even the explosion itself, potentially could have been prevented if the plant would have cared about and been more aware of worker – both employee and contractor – safety.

A contractor suing over the fatal June 13 Williams Olefins explosion at its Geismar plant raises recent federal workplace safety violations brought against the Tulsa, Okla., company and alleges Williams has a history of problems handling chemicals.

Filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, the new suit brought by Abraham J. Bosley of Iberville Parish is the ninth in state or federal court over the explosion and the third brought this month.

Two of the older cases have been dismissed.

A flammable vapor cloud ignited from ruptured equipment in the company’s propylene fractionation unit, causing a massive fireball, a Williams investigation found.

At the time, the plant was undergoing expansion, and 839 employees and contractors were on site. The blast killed two and injured 114 people.

Investigators with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have focused on a reboiler, or heat exchanger, that a safety board official said “failed catastrophically” inside the fractionation unit.

The most serious of the six OSHA violations brought last year involves Williams’ operation of that kind of equipment while idle.

Bosley alleges Williams had a history of “citations, warnings and shut-downs due to improper storage and handling of chemicals including propylene,” the suit says.

“This included a citation in 2010 for releasing excess amounts of ethylene, and a December 2012 plant shut down for a…

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Workers’ Compensation May Cover Weight Loss Treatment, Surgery

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Gastric bypass is one type of weight loss surgery

Obesity is a disease that affects Americans in many ways.

Workers’ compensation is affected by obesity as well. A work injury or disease, coupled with chronic obesity, frequently becomes much more difficult to deal with. The usual methods of treatment may not be possible for an injured worker living with chronic obesity. 

Thomas A. Robinson, a noted expert on workers’ compensation, recently posted a great discussion on obesity treatment. The well-written article discusses how various state workers’ compensation systems deal with these problems. The short answer is some states award benefits for treating obesity as part of the work injury, and some don’t. Nebraska and Iowa have cases denying gastric bypass surgery based on factual findings that it was not necessary to treat the work injury, but leaving to door open with more proof of medical necessity. 

Our firm has had at least one case where gastric bypass surgery was paid voluntarily when it was apparent the surgery was necessary to enable proper treatment of a serious work injury. A workers’ compensation trial award was entered in early January awarding gastric bypass surgery as necessary to reduce weight so a back surgery could be performed safely. This award reinforces that with proof of medical necessity to treat a work injury, weight loss treatment and surgery may be covered by workers’ compensation in Nebraska.

How US Business Routinely Steals Your Legal Rights

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey from Causey Law Firm in Seattle. Mr. Causey, as a respected plaintiff’s attorney whom I have known for many years, is a strong advocate for consumers. He writes about how the American Association of Justice (a group to which I also belong) is encouraging consumers to know how arbitration limits the ability to get just compensation. This project also includes a component where people can report their experiences with arbitration, which adds to the general knowledge and AAJ’s research on the subject. Nebraska has limits on the kinds of disputes that are subject to binding arbitration. Our constitution barred binding arbitration of any kind until 1996 when a big-business-led group got the voters to approve it.

     You’ve just bought a new car, or signed an employment agreement, or engaged an investment firm to act for you, or made substantial charges on your credit card, or even just bought a Starbucks card.  Now something’s gone wrong, and you’re looking for relief, maybe contemplating a lawsuit.

     Unfortunately, you can probably forget any real legal remedy because chances are you’ve agreed to some fine print in the transaction that forces you into binding arbitration of any claim you have. For years the US Chamber of Commerce has been working behind the scenes to ensure most consumers lose access to the courts through these stealth provisions that hide in most contracts. The Chamber recently convened its annual summit for its Institute for Legal Reform, whose primary goal is to find ways that corporations can eliminate the rights of consumers, small businesses and employees to hold them accountable in court.

     The American Association for Justice (AAJ) calls the Chamber’s efforts “Corporate America’s Trojan Horse” which substitutes big businesses owned dispute resolution mill for the real machinery of justice in the courts. Most Americans are unaware of the some half billion arbitration provisions in transactions they have unwillingly consented to. Forced arbitration by arbitrators selected by big business, not bound by law, and making decisions not subject to any meaningful judicial review, has substantially altered the civil justice system of this country, and what’s left of your legal remedies.

 

For the full report on this go to: License to Steal: How the US Chamber of Commerce Forced Arbitration on America.

 

Testosterone Drug Use: Watch Out for Dangerous Side Effects

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Beware of testosterone drugs. 

Drugs to raise testosterone levels have very dangerous side effects. The drugs come in the form of prescription drugs, patches, creams, gels, deodorant or spray. These heavily promoted drugs have been linked to increased heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolism, blood clots, and death. For instance, men older than 65 taking such drugs are two times more likely to have a heart attack during the first 90 days of use than those who don’t take the drug. That is a sobering, if not outright scary, situation. Men younger than 65 with histories of heart disease are also twice as likely to have heart attacks during the first 90 days of use. 

Human nature and the desire to be healthy, strong and youthful appearing will draw many men to these drugs, particularly with the heavy advertising on TV, radio, online and in traditional print that the public is exposed to currently. The lure of a Fountain of Youth is hard to resist but also very dangerous. 

Sadly, there have been many other instances of new drugs that have been heavily promoted that have had dangerous side effects. The law has provided damages for the now millions of people who have been damaged by various dangerous drugs with serious side effects. I recommend looking into your legal rights if you or a loved one suffered a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, blood clots or death while taking testosterone replacement drugs or after taking such drugs. Feel free to contact me, and I can arrange for a consultation with lawyers with special knowledge, experience and good ethics to help you or your family member.