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emPower eLearning: July 2011

emPower eLearning

Monday, July 25, 2011

New HIPAA rule would show who sees health information

A proposed change to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act would give people the right to see who has electronically accessed their protected health information.

The change is proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR). "We need to protect peoples' rights so that they know how their health information has been used or disclosed," says Georgina Verdugo, OCR director.

People would obtain the information by requesting an access report that would disclose who saw their information. The office is taking comments on the proposed rule until August 1. 

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Safety 2011: Do Americans Care More about Chickens than Workers?

OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels and NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard sat down with Diana Stegall of the American Society of Safety Engineers to discuss the focus of the agencies and the role those agencies play in the lives of safety professionals. Believe it or not, the subject of chickens came up.

 During the panel discussion, a short film from OSHA, created to commemorate the agency’s 40th anniversary, was shown. The film included comments from former OSHA administrators – such as Eula Bingham, Mort Corn and Thorne Auchtor – as well as Michaels. In some cases, the timeline of the film made it apparent that some OSHA standards were the direct or indirect result of workplace tragedies that made national headlines.

“We need to raise the issue of workplace safety and health to the national level,” said Michaels.
Commenting on the book The Jungle, Michaels noted that as a result of the public outcry after the book was published, food safety standards were put into place. “Upton Sinclair didn’t write [The Jungle] to improve food safety,” said Michaels. “He wrote it to show the working conditions for stockyards workers. ...Upton Sinclair said, ‘I aimed for their hearts and hit their stomachs.’”

To further make his point that workplace safety and health still doesn’t have the national stage like it deserves, Michaels noted the salmonella outbreak in eggs last year, in which 380 million eggs were recalled.  “Nobody talked about the working conditions on egg farms,” said Michaels. “We need to convince Americans to care as much about workers as they do chickens.”

A large number of workplace injuries and illnesses go unreported, Michaels acknowledged, referring to a study that found that “for every injury reported on an OSHA log, there were three and a half that went through the workers’ compensation system.” Ideally, the numbers on the OSHA log and the number of injuries and illnesses reported for workers’ compensation medical and leave benefits should match up.

This article was originally posted at  http://ehstoday.com/standards/osha/safety-americans-care-more-chickens-workers-0614/

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Two OSHA Meetings to Discuss Infectious Agents Standard

OSHA announced it will hold two stakeholders July 29 to hear from stakeholders as it considers whether to develop a standard meant to control workers' exposures to infectious agents. The tasks it would address might or might not be direct patient care, and the announcement listed examples: housekeeping, food delivery, facility maintenance; handling, transporting, receiving, or processing infectious items or wastes; maintaining, servicing or repairing medical equipment that is contaminated with infectious agents; conducting autopsies; performing mortuary services; and performing tasks in laboratories that result in occupational exposure.

The meetings will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The deadline to confirm registration is July 22, and OSHA said only about 30 participants will be allowed in each meeting. OSHA staffers will be present to take part, and Eastern Research Group, Inc. of Lexington, Mass. will manage logistics for the meetings, provide a facilitator, and compile notes summarizing the discussion that will be posted in the docket for the Infectious Diseases Request for Information (Docket ID: OSHA-2010-0003, www.regulations.gov).

OSHA published the request for information in May 2010 and received more than 200 comments were received in response. It said these meetings will center on such major issues as whether and to what extent an OSHA standard on occupational exposure to infectious diseases should apply in settings where workers provide direct patient care, as well as, settings where workers have occupational exposure even though they don't provide direct patient care; the advantages and disadvantages of using a program standard to limit occupational exposure to infectious diseases; the advantages and disadvantages of taking other approaches to organizing a prospective standard; and whether a standard should require every employer to develop a written worker infection control plan.

This article was originally posted at  http://ohsonline.com/articles/2011/07/06/two-osha-meetings-to-discuss-infectious-agents-standard.aspx?admgarea=news

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