Final Rule Announced Allowing For Digital X-rays In Black Lung Claims By US Labor Department
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:59

"The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs announced a final rule adopting standards for administering and interpreting digital radiographs for the Federal Black Lung Program.

The new rule will enable physicians who perform diagnostic testing of miner-claimants to use more modern medical technology to conduct a complete pulmonary evaluation. The rule allows film and digital chest X-rays to be given equal importance in claims adjudication. Physicians use chest X-rays as a tool to evaluate whether a miner suffers from pneumoconiosis, commonly known as black lung disease.

Until now, the standards for administering and interpreting chest X-rays addressed only film radiographs. But film-based technology is rapidly being replaced by digital radiography in medical facilities, and the number of physicians conducting diagnostic testing with older equipment has declined. The revised rule provides quality standards for digitally acquired X-rays and allows film and digital X-rays to be given equal importance in claims adjudication.

"This important rule will make it easier for all parties to develop medical evidence for claims proceedings and will help miners and their families to get the benefits to which they're entitled," said Gary A. Steinberg, OWCP Acting Director. "

The number of facilities offering film-based X-rays has been shrinking rapidly, and miners have had to travel long distances to get to them. By expanding the number of available medical facilities, this rule will help eliminate that burden. It will also reduce OWCP's processing costs and the time it takes to adjudicate claims."

The standards adopted in this final rule are based largely on those adopted in 2012 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for its Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program. NIOSH is the department's adviser for developing medical tests for Black Lung Benefits Act claims."

The final rule was published in the Federal Register on April 17, and it can be viewed by clicking here!

FRA to Issue Proposed Minimum Crew Size Rule
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:53

"DOT's Federal Railroad Administration will issue a proposed rule on minimum train crew size. The proposed rule would require a two-person train crew on crude oil trains and establish minimum crew size standards for most main-line freight and passenger rail operations. In addition, FRA will begin a rulemaking on train securement and recommend a rulemaking on the movement of hazardous materials.

The announcement of these related rules follows the deliberations of three Railroad Safety Advisory Committee Working Groups that FRA established last summer on appropriate train crew size, securement, and hazmat issues as a result of the Lac-Megantic, Quebec derailment and fire involving tank railcars filled with crude oil. Existing FRA regulations do not require a minimum number of staff, though current practice is typically to have two-person crews for over-the-road operations.

In addition to requiring a minimum staffing rule, FRA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking based on the recommendations from the Securement Working Group that would prohibit certain unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track and would require railroads to implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders, according to the agency's news release."


Click here for more details!

Confined Space Rescue: Non-entry or Entry Rescue?
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:43

("The following article was featured on the cover of the March 2014 issue of ISHN, and authored by Roco's own Chief Instructor Pat Furr.)

"It’s a Saturday night December 21st and the plant is running on a skeleton crew. Operations wants to get a head start on annual preventative maintenance and decides to knock out several permit required confined space entries before the majority of the work is to be done when the regular shifts return after the New Year. Randy has just finished the third of five vessels that are identical in configuration. His authorized attendant and good friend Hector have been working together for over 15 years and they both know the drill. They have changed out the stainless steel bolt sets on the agitator blades of these vessels every year at about this same time. The entry supervisor just closed out the permit for the third vessel and after reviewing the permit for the fourth vessel and helping with the pre-entry atmospheric monitoring; he signs the permit authorizing entry.

Hector checks Randy’s harness and the attachment of the non-entry rescue retrieval cable to his dorsal D-ring, and double checks the davit arm and the mounting point of the self-retracting lifeline with the built in retrieval winch. As Randy climbs 25 feet down the rope ladder to access the bottom of the vessel, all is going according to plan. As he steps off the ladder and begins to loosen the first bolt set, he slips on the concave floor of the stainless steel vessel. Before he can react, he strikes his head on the agitator blade which causes a 5 inch gash to his left temple and knocks him unconscious. He falls between two of the agitator blades and then slides to the bottom of the vessel with his retrieval line wrapped over one of the blades and under another. Hector tries to winch his friend out of the space only to find that Randy’s limp body gets wedged under the agitator blade. You can probably guess what happened next. Realizing there is no entry rescue capability on this shift; Hector’s gut reaction is to enter the space to help his friend. In his rush, he slips from the rope ladder and falls 20 feet to his death. When the entry supervisor arrives 30 minutes later to close the permit and initiate the last entry, he sees two bodies at the bottom of the space."


Click here to continue reading!

Workers' Memorial Day--This Saturday!
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:11

OSHA 30-Hour Training...Next week!
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:08

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