Diabetes and Safety-Sensitive Work

For safety-sensitive jobs – such as those involving a firearm or heavy machinery – concern has revolved around whether the worker will become disoriented or incapacitated, according to the American Diabetes Association.

This may be changing in some industries. FMCSA’s recent proposal to ease exemption requirements states that commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus “are as safe as other drivers when their condition is well-controlled.” Drivers with ITDM would be allowed to operate CMVs if they are cleared yearly by a medical examiner listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The risk posed by drivers with controlled diabetes is “very low in general,” the agency states in the rule, which was published in the May 4 Federal Register. FMCSA also believes a yearly doctor visit would allow physicians to promote awareness about hypoglycemia’s effect on driving.


“It’s really great progress,” Paul said. “There’s still plenty of protections. You have to have the treating health care provider provide his or her opinion about qualification. There’s a registry of doctors who have to be certified to provide the Department of Transportation exams. Those are at least two separate medical providers that have to weigh in on the qualification issue or safety issue.”

Similarly, opportunities have expanded for law enforcement officers with diabetes. ACOEM’s National Consensus Guidance for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers states that “blanket bans” of people with diabetes are illegal and inconsistent with medical information. And for firefighters, any disqualification due to diabetes or insulin use must be made on an individual basis.

“The concept is a well-controlled, well-educated, well-motivated diabetic can pretty much do anything,” Samo said.

For pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration states that a history of “diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medication” is a disqualifying condition, although diabetic pilots who use insulin can apply for a third-class certificate that allows them to fly privately or recreationally. However, the American Diabetes Association wants FAA to change its policy to allow people who treat diabetes with insulin to be medically certified for commercial airline operations.

Additional guidance to clear workers with diabetes for other safety-sensitive jobs would be beneficial, Samo said.

“If someone can be a firefighter and drive an emergency vehicle, why would you say, ‘I’m not going to hire you to drive a forklift in my factory because you’re diabetic,’” Samo said. “It’s irrational. I’d be hard put to think of a job that wouldn’t be able to use the same criteria as the police and fire criteria for other safety-sensitive jobs.”

The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Job Performance and Diabetes

diabetesAn employer can exclude someone with diabetes from a job when the worker poses a “direct threat” – what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission calls “a significant risk of substantial harm to the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced through reasonable accommodation.” According to the commission, an employer who knows about a worker’s disability can require the worker to undergo a medical evaluation if the employer has observed performance issues and “reasonably believes” the issues are connected to the medical condition.

The National Diabetes Education Program’s “Diabetes at Work” project offers the following scenario as an example: A supervisor may ask an ironworker to undergo an exam or submit information from his doctor stating that he can safely do his job after the worker, who said he has diabetes, sweats and shakes during a break from hoisting iron beams.

In certain industries, guidance and standards help determine whether workers with diabetes can perform a job. For example, law enforcement officers with diabetes are expected to be evaluated on an individual basis. And the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration currently requires commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus to obtain an exemption every two years. However, the agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in May that would ease the exemption requirements for CMV drivers who can show they have their diabetes under control.

The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Diabetes and Worker Safety: Employees and Employers

diabetes-ThinkstockPhotos-498304272.pngBy law, in most cases, workers with diabetes do not have to disclose the condition to their employer. “I would never say someone should definitely disclose,” Strobel Gower said. “If you need to do something differently on your job, because of your diabetes to do your job effectively, you should probably say something so you can ask for what you need, but it’s a personal choice.”

Workers who have diabetes may choose to disclose their condition to request “reasonable accommodations.” The employer may then require proof of disability and need for accommodations, the American Diabetes Association states. According to law, an employer cannot retaliate against a worker for requesting such accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations may include breaks to eat, take medicine and test blood sugar levels; and larger computer screens.

Accommodations also can involve protective equipment. In a 2012 OSHA interpretation of standards 1910.132 and 1910.136, the agency states that workers who cannot wear certain PPE required by their employer should discuss possible alternatives or reasonable accommodations. For example, some people with diabetes develop foot problems such as poor circulation and ulcers. OSHA notes that some PPE manufacturers offer footwear designed for people with diabetes, featuring extra wide steel or non-metallic toe caps.

The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Diabetes and Worker Safety: The Concerns

-vector-silouette-business-ThinkstockPhotos-465104671-[Converted]-[Recovered]Diabetes has been called an epidemic in America. A 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States – almost 10 percent of the population – have the disorder. Of those, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.

The seventh leading cause of death in the nation, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and lower limb amputation if not controlled. So what are the implications for worker safety?


The blood of a person with diabetes has too much glucose, resulting in possible health issues. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, which is needed to turn sugar and other food into energy. With type 2 diabetes – the most common type – the body improperly uses insulin, leading to abnormal blood glucose levels.

Concerns about worker safety focus mainly on hypoglycemia, a state of low blood glucose. Symptoms of hypoglycemia range from hunger and dizziness to confusion and unconsciousness. In contrast, hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is high because the body has too little insulin or is improperly using insulin, resulting in symptoms such as hunger, thirst and frequent urination. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic coma.

“When sugar gets very high, it can affect their cognitive abilities, it can affect vision,” said Dr. Daniel Samo, member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine board of directors and medical director of health promotion, and corporate services and public safety medicine divisions, at Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Diabetes and Worker Safety.” For more information please visit www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Driving in Rain, Fog or Snow

drivinginfog_largeA bit of rain, snow or ice makes roads slippery. Wet leaves can be slippery and hazardous. Reduced speed and increased following distance improve your safety under these conditions.  Take additional care on curves, turns and expressway ramps.

In heavy rain, your tires can begin to ride on the water that is on top of the road pavement. This “hydroplaning” can cause complete loss of traction and control of steering. Hydroplaning normally occurs at higher speeds, but it also can occur if your tires are tread worn or not inflated properly. When there is heavy rain, it always makes sense to drive more slowly. If your vehicle begins to lose traction, decrease your speed even more. Good tires with deep tread help to prevent hydroplaning.

Rain, fog or snow make it harder to see through your windshield, and difficult for other drivers to see you. New York State law requires you to turn on your headlights when the weather conditions require the use of windshield wipers to clear rain, snow, sleet or fog. “Daytime lights” do not qualify as headlights.

High headlight beams reflect rain, fog and snow as it falls. This makes it even harder for you to see. For better visibility during these weather conditions, keep your headlights on low beam. Reduce your speed. Signal your turns further ahead of time to give other drivers and roadway users more warning. Brake early when you decrease speed behind another vehicle or come to an intersection stop.

Some vehicles have front fog lights or front and back fog lights, for use when heavy fog or similar hazardous weather conditions restrict visibility. In New York State, all fog lights must be correctly installed and of a type approved by the Commissioner of DMV.  Front fog lights can be amber or white in color. Back fog lights must be red and can be larger than the normal back lights – they will give advance warning of the presence of your vehicle to the drivers behind you. When visibility improves, you can switch off your fog lights to reduce the glare that can bother other drivers.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Special Driving Conditions.” For more information please visit dmv.ny.gov

How to Avoid Collisions with Deer

ThinkstockPhotos-177328201.jpgTwo-thirds of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during the months of October, November and December. This is also the time when deer breed when they travel the most. Daily deer activity is highest at dawn and dusk, which often is the highest time of travel for motor vehicle commuters. Deer travel in groups – if you see one, expect more.  Areas where there are many deer-vehicle collisions often are marked with deer crossing signs. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends these precautions motorists can take to reduce the chance of a deer hit:

  • Be careful when you drive at dawn and dusk; this is when driver visibility is bad and the deer are most active.
  • The risk of deer-vehicle collisions increases when deer movements increase during their breeding season in October, November and December.
  • Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.
  • If you see a deer go across the road, decrease speed and be careful. Deer travel in groups, expect other deer to follow.
  • Use emergency lights or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when deer are seen on or near the road.
  • Use caution on roadways marked with deer crossing signs. These signs are put in areas that have had a large number of deer-vehicle collisions.

The above is an excerpt from, “Special Driving Conditions.” For more information, please visit, “dmv.ny.gov.”

Why Invest Time in Road Safety Education in the Workplace?


TRAFFIC CRASHES ARE COSTLY TO EMPLOYERS Ahead of this year’s 20th anniversary of Drive Safely Work Week, NETS released a new study: The Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes to Employers–2015. You may already have policies in place to reduce the human and economic toll of crashes involving company-car drivers. But did you know that the cost of off-the job crashes is nearly as high? Off-the job crashes are much more frequent. And, they involve employees and their dependents.

2Lost work days due to motor vehicle crashes totaled more than 1.6 million in 2013. You might be surprised at how those days break down between on-the-job and off-the-job crashes. An off-the-job crash is any crash experienced by: Nearly 90% of those work days are the result of off-the-job crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver behavior is a factor in 94% of all motor vehicle crashes, meaning that nearly all of them are preventable. We also know from the recent NETS study that a portion of the overall costs of crashes can be broken down to types of driver behavior.

1In addition to the behaviors cited to the left, drowsy driving is a growing concern given our increasingly-connected 24/7 society. Efforts are needed to educate on the importance of quality sleep and to encourage healthy sleep habits, along with recognizing the signs when we are too drowsy to operate a motor vehicle safely. The encouraging news is employers are in a favorable position to help reduce crashes attributed to driver behavior, including drowsy driving, through education and training. Employers can collectively reach nearly 50% of the U.S. population—even more when information is shared with employee family members—and employers have a captive audience. Take the time to ensure the work hours and expectations of management are such that the workplace is not contributing to unsafe driving behaviors. Keep in mind that road safety education of all employees is time well spent, with the potential to reduce crashes on and off the job.

The above is an excerpt from the article,”Why Invest Time in Road Safety Education in the Workplace?” For more information, please visit nhtsa.gov.