ARTICLES

Technology, ‘big data’ and worker safety

Experts discuss where technology could take safety, the potential challenges of ‘Industry 4.0’ and how safety pros might fit into the picture
Advances in technology are expected to turn a stream of data into “a giant flash flood.” That future is arriving sooner than you think, but what might it mean for the world of occupational safety? Five experts weigh in.
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OIG reports highlight obstacles for OSHA, MSHA

Underreporting, hazard abatement initiatives among challenges
OSHA needs better methods to prevent and detect underreporting of worker fatalities and certain injuries, while the Mine Safety and Health Administration "lacks a consistent approach to logging, assessing and responding to complaints of hazardous mine conditions," the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General concludes in its recently released semiannual report to Congress.
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Incentive programs, post-incident drug testing not prohibited under electronic recordkeeping rule, OSHA says

In a memo sent Oct. 11 to regional administrators and state designees, the agency outlines examples of acceptable drug testing, and states that incentive programs that withhold prizes because of an injury are compliant “as long as the employer has implemented precautions to ensure that employees feel free to report an injury or illness.”
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Unmaking a rule

The regulatory process is slow – but experts say reversing rules can be just as sluggish
Federal regulations often take years – sometimes decades – to come to fruition. In the current presidential administration, the focus is on deregulation – and experts say the process of rolling back a rule can prove just as slow.
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Exoskeletons and injury prevention

Experts say the emerging technology could benefit people in physically demanding jobs
Once relegated to science fiction and other works of popular culture, exoskeletons are showing promise in providing ergonomic support and preventing injuries among people who work physically demanding jobs.
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Return to work

Washington state program serves as model in the search for better workers’ compensation results
The Centers of Occupational Health and Education program – part of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries – is designed to get injured workers back on the job while curbing long-term disability rates.
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