Study Suggests Connection Between Noisy Workplaces and Cardiovascular Disease

Working in a noisy environment may be more than annoying-it may be bad for your heart. According to a study released this month by researchers at The University of British Columbia and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, individuals working in noisy environments are at have a higher prevalence of chest pain, heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure due to psychological stress acquired by exposure to loud noise at the work place. A team of researchers analyzed data on over 6, 300 employed individuals 20 years and older who participated in the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. As part of the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, participants underwent physical exams and answered questions about their occupational and general health. University of British Columbia researchers then divided the study participants by type of workplace: generally quiet work environments and persistently noisy workplaces. “Persistent noise” did not include loud music or talking but was defined as unwanted industrial noise such as the noise commonly found in mining and manufacturing industries. More than 20 percent of the approximately 6,300 individuals had been exposed to over 8 months of workplace noise. Even after taking into consideration the high rates of heart disease risks factors such as tobacco use and obesity among the mostly middle-aged male individuals working in a loud environment, researchers still found that workers exposed to industrial noise were about twice as likely to have serious heart problems than […]

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KBR Receives Exclusive $568 Million Contract Despite Controversy

A U.S Army decision to continue an exclusive contract with KBR Inc. rather than solicit bids from other military service providers has many Washington lawmakers shaking their heads. KBR, a leading American engineering and construction company headquartered in Houston, holds the current contract with the U.S Army for provision of services in Iraq. These services include equipment maintenance, facility operations, dining, cleaning, laundry, sewage and trash pickup. KBR employs approximately 14,000 U.S. employees in Iraq to provide logistical support to U.S forces. Under the latest contract, KBR will receive $568 million to provide support services in Iraq until full troop withdrawal in December 2011. In January 2010, the U.S Army responded to Congressional pressure for increased competition between private service providers and opened solicitation for competitive bids. Two rival companies, DynCorp International Inc and Fluor Corp submitted bids. While a spokesman for DynCorp stated their proposal was “designed to produce significant savings for taxpayers,” an Army spokesperson defended the decision to retain KBR, citing KBR’s satisfactory performance and the operational and financial costs associated with switching providers. According to Army officials, switching contractors would cost taxpayers $77 million and would result in an inevitably inefficient transitory period. The May 16 decision to retain KBR came despite two pending lawsuits filed by the U.S Justice Department against KBR as well as continued controversy over KBR’s prices, politics, production quality, payroll size, and financial honesty. A civil fraud suit filed in April alleges KBR charged the government for unauthorized security services in […]

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Injured U.S Civilian Contractors in War Zones Struggle to Receive Benefits Under Outdated Defense Base Act

In his books “Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives and Corporate Greed in Iraq”, Christian Miller investigates the medical services available to injured civilian employees operating oversees. The United States government has increasingly relied on private contractor services in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians risk injury and death in war zones to perform support services such as laundry, mail delivery, translation, and transportation of goods. Particularly in times of economic trouble, thousands of ordinary citizens are drawn to war zone contractor work because of the opportunity to make a higher salary while supporting their country. Approximately 1,700 contracted civilians have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq while another 31,000 have been injured. Insurance guidelines for private contractors operating in war zones are outlined in Congress’s Defense Base Act. The DBA requires every private contractor operating for the U.S government to purchase a specialized type of workers’ compensation insurance for all employees. Premiums for this specialized insurance When enacted in 1940, the DBA was not intended to cover the types of war zone injuries private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan now face. The typical slip and fall injuries experienced by private contractors of the 1940’s have been replaced by injuries such as posttraumatic stress disorder, amputation, and death. Because the contractor buys the policy and taxpayers pay for the total price of the contract which reflects the insurance policy, taxpayers share the burden of the outdated DBA. If a contractor is injured in […]

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Economic Layoff of the Injured Worker

Oil and gas companies last Friday began halting exploratory drilling in the deepwater of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The companies are following a federal government order mandating a six-month exploratory drilling ban. Job layoffs may be inevitable. Louisiana officials estimate the administration’s suspension order for the 33 rigs will cause the loss of 3,000 to 6,000 Louisiana jobs in the next two to three weeks and as many as 20,000 if the moratorium persists. Injured workers who are covered by a job injury compensation scheme and who have returned to work with restrictions prior to being laid off, should know that they may be able to have their wage loss indemnity benefits reinstated because the resulting job loss is of no fault of their own. These compensation schemes include: Louisiana Workers Compensation Act, LA-R.S. 23:1021 et seq Where an injured worker establishes a work-related injury and the inability to earn 90 percent of his average weekly pre-injury wage when his current position was temporarily eliminated due to the company lay-offs and the employer fails to successfully establish that a suitable job was available for him in their respective communities or in showing that a job had been offered to him that he was capable of performing, the injured workers indemnity benefits must be reinstated. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.A. §§ 901 et seq (“LHWCA”). If an alternative position within an injured employees work restrictions becomes unavailable with the employer of injury due to an economic layoff, […]

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