Past roundups have emphasized the many things wrong with veterans’ health and safety, so this week seems like a good time to highlight some of the efforts that the military and the Veterans Administration are making to address the problems.

  • The WSJ’s Theo Francis reports that the Defense Department is giving the Brain Trauma Foundation $4.6 million to develop a device that can assess traumatic brain injuries in seconds on the battlefield.
  • For the Associated Press, Pauline Jelinek and Lolita Baldor describe a new Pentagon campaign that aims to get troops with mental health problems into counseling; one important change is that mental health treatment will no longer count against them in future applications for security clearance.
  • NPR’s Joseph Shapiro explains the changes the Army has made at military hospitals to prevent accidental drug overdoses like the one that killed Sgt. Robert Nichols.

In other news:

The Nation: The sugar-dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company’s Savannah refinery, responsible for the death of 13 workers, angered Tammy Miser (of Weekly Toll fame), who started working in support of families who’ve lost loved ones to workplace disasters after her brother Shawn died in a dust explosion. During the Bush administration, OSHA has basically stopped its rulemaking duties, although the House Committee that oversees OSHA is now pushing the agency to act on several hazards that merit rules.

NIOSH: Although commercial fishing is still the nation’s most dangerous occupation, the annual fatality rate declined 51% between 1990 and 2006 due to safety requirements and prevention strategies.

Occupational Hazards: Recent research finds that although outdoor workers in construction, forestry, fishing, and farming are at increased risk of getting skin cancer due to sun exposure, they are least likely to receive skin exams.

New York Times (op-ed): Burger King hired a security firm to spy on the Student/Farmworker Alliance, which has been urging the fast-food giant to give a modest pay raise to the farmworkers who pick its tomatoes. By contrast, McDonald’s and Yum Brands have agreed to increase the workers’ pay and to work with the coalition to eliminate slavery conditions from the fields.