2015 Brought More On the Job Fatalities Since 2008

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, more workers died from occupational injuries in 2015 than in any year since 2008.

This census of workplace fatalities has been in use since 1992, and its goal is to provide a transparent view on workplace safety across the nation. The report is broken down by demographic groups and the occupations most at risk for on the job injuries.

The key findings of the report show that 4,836 workplace fatalities were reported in 2015, which is the highest annual number since the 5,214 deaths in 2008. This overall rate of fatalities was 3.38 per 100,000 full-time workers, which, while still high, was lower than the 3.43 rate of 2014.

Hispanic and Latino workers were the demographic most affected, suffering 903 fatal injuries, followed by workers of all races over 65, who incurred 650 deaths. Non-Hispanic Black or African Americans suffered 495 fatalities, and the overall fatalities for foreign-born workers were at the highest level since 2007. The majority of these foreign workers were born in Mexico, but overall represented 100 different countries and nationalities.

Of the major causes of workplace fatalities, transportation-related deaths topped the list, with 2,054. Falls, slips, and trips were the cause of 800 deaths, contact with objects and equipment was 722, violence from animals or other workers 703, exposure to harmful substances or hazardous environments 42, and fires and va-constructionexplosions counted for 121.

It should be noted that the majority of these fatalities were within the construction industry. For example, according to a study performed by the Ohio Safety and Health Administration, of the 4,585 workplace fatalities in 2013, 20.2% were due to construction related accidents. In other words, this equates to 20% of all workplace fatalities happen while on a construction site.

The only positive in this report is that the number of on-the-job suicides fell 18% from 2014.

Solar Power to Be Cheaper Than Coal Within the Next 10 Years

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, by the year 2025, the average global cost of solar power may be less than coal. Already, solar power is cheaper than generating energy from coal in some parts of the world. In 2016, Chile and the United Arab Emirates were able to provide solar power for less than three cents a kilowatt-hour — half the average cost of coal power worldwide. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Mexico are all aiming to drop prices even lower this year.

“These are game-changing numbers, and it’s becoming normal in more and more markets,” said Adnan Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. “Every time you double capacity, you reduce the price by 20%.”

The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that in just a few years, about two-thirds of all the nations in the world will reach grid parity. The term “grid parity” means that an alternative power source like solar energy is capable of generating the same amount of power as a traditional power grid at a cost that is the same or lower. As of today, over 30 countries have already achieved unsubsidized grid parity.

Solar power is becoming more popular and less expensive for a number of reasons, including lower production costs, more investors, greater government subsidizing, more local legislation, and advancements in technology.

The “sunbelt countries” are leading the way in cutting solar power costs, but low prices have less to do with the sun and more to do with competition. Countries like Chile have used auctions to award power-purchase contracts, forcing energy companies to compete for business by lowering costs.

“We’re seeing a new reality where solar is the lowest-cost source of energy, and I don’t see an end in sight in terms of the decline in costs,” said Sami Khoreibi, founder and chief executive officers of Enviromena Power Systems.

Right now, the average American household is spending about 2.7% of its income on energy bills, totaling to about $2,000 a year. As solar power gains momentum, it is highly likely that energy costs in the U.S. will see a major decline, benefiting Americans around the country. A 600 square foot solar panel would be needed to power the average home, and this alone could save about $84 a month in energy costs.

This Man Travels the World For Free on Container Ships

Plenty of people love to come up with new ways to save money on travel. Some check airline websites every day, waiting to pounce on a good deal. Others make long-term investments: A family of four traveling by RV, for example, can save 23% to 59% on each of their vacations. And then there are people like Torbjorn C. Pedersen, who has spent the better part of the past three years traveling the world on cargo ships — for free.

Pedersen, better known by his nickname “Thor,” travels as a goodwill ambassador for the Red Cross in his home country of Denmark, but he has a more personal goal in mind: Before the end of his voyage, he plans to visit every country on the planet, without ever boarding an airplane.

“Fewer than 200 people have reached every country in the world, and all of them have been flying at one point or another,” Pedersen told Vice recently. “I’ve been going for more than three years now. I’ve reached 121 countries, and so far, I haven’t been back home, and I haven’t flown. When I need to cross an ocean like the Atlantic, there’s no way around it. You basically need to get onboard a container ship.”

Although there are somewhere around 50,000 merchant ships in use around the world, they’re generally reserved for cargo, not tourists. And there’s good reason why: a 12-hour plane ride across the Pacific ocean easily takes two weeks by sea. But on the plus side, almost all of Pedersen’s journeys have been free, including meals and long showers, though he’s had to do a lot of legwork and sweet-talking to get there.

“The ships have no incentive to carry a passenger. It’s an inconvenience for the shipping line and a passenger represents an unwanted liability,” he said to the Telegraph. “You would need to express that you can be on your own and wouldn’t get in the way of the crew and the operations. It would need to be clear that you can be invisible.”

When Pederson does make land, he has a self-imposed rule that he has to stay in a country for at least 24 hours. Sometimes, that means missing his ship’s departure and waiting weeks or months for the next one to arrive.

“While it was exceedingly difficult to reach Greenland without flying it turned out to be hard to leave as well,” Pedersen said. “Towards my final days I nearly had the entire village texting me when there was a new boat in the port. They are such wonderful spirited people up there.”

Of the 122 countries he’s visited so far (he has 81 left to go), Pedersen counts Greenland, Cuba, and Iran as among his favorites. Even on land, he lives on a self-imposed budget of $20 per day to demonstrate just how affordable world travel can be.

“I could probably travel for less money than $20 a day. Some countries are more expensive than others but most countries are quite cheap when you use local transportation, eat local food and stay with local people or use cheap guesthouses and dorm rooms,” he explained.

With rolling seas, rare Internet access, and sparse accommodations, container ship travel may not be for everyone. But it is, at least, one way to see the world for adventurous spirits on a shoestring budget.

The Need for Thermal Cooling is Sending Data Centers to the Great North

When it comes to data center operations, temperature plays a big part. In fact, 80% of data centers use or are looking to use hot or cold aisle containment systems in order to regulate temperatures.

These high-powered tech rooms handle a lot of energy, and a lot of heat as a result. In order to prevent these systems from overheating, cold aisle containment is used to circulate air to the hot areas of the data center and keep things calm.

But in place of these containment systems, a number of powerful companies have chosen to move their data centers to colder regions in order to save money on energy costs and more effectively cool their systems.

Facebook, Amazon, and Google have recently taken up residency close to the Arctic Circle, in some of Europe’s most northern points. There, operational costs are much lower, there is much more space, and electricity prices are some of the lowest in the world.

Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power, just recently released its list of data center infrastructure trends for 2017, including thermal management (though some companies are clearly ahead of the game).

In addition to utilizing cool climates, Vertiv also believes that water cooling systems may become more popular, as well.

Moving data centers to Nordic regions can cause other issues, however. While physically moving the centers to remote parts of the globe is the easy part, transporting bits and bytes between data centers and key networks far away increases costs. While energy costs are much lower, the transportation costs may cause companies to break even.

Because of these, the prices of companies that use cold climate data canters is still comparable to those with centers located in more accessible central Europe.

Of course, Scandinavian countries aren’t the only suitable geographic areas for thermal containment structures. On the other side of the Atlantic lies Canada, the world’s fourth largest country by land area and home to the tenth highest per-capita income.

Canada on its own is highly developed, and has already successfully employed a number of renewable resources that are reliable and inexpensive. Its northern borders stretch well into the Arctic Circle, the prime location for cold containment, and its proximity and accessibility to the U.S. are ideal for North American tech businesses to keep their data centers within a reasonable constraint for bits and bytes to travel.

While the future of data center development is largely up in the air, we can expect companies to begin experimenting with new infrastructure in 2017. From an American perspective, the potential of sourcing our data centers to one of our closest allies and neighbors reduces the risk of potential hacking and foreign government surveillance.

Why Do Companies Have Trouble Retaining Millennial Employees?

Lazy, unmotivated, apathetic, and entitled — all common traits associated with millennials. Since studies show that 44% of millennials would choose to leave their jobs within the next two years if given a choice, it’s easy to make the assumption that these traits ring true. But contrary to popular belief, members the youngest generation to enter the professional workforce aren’t bailing because they’re incapable or entitled, it’s because they’re looking for more.

While millennials make up the majority of the U.S. workforce, the majority of corporate leaders are older. Millennials only holding 12% of senior-level and executive positions. As more 20-somethings enter the workforce, employers need to understand that a paradigm shift is happening in corporate America.

Flexibility is one of the primary demands of the millennial workforce. They’re looking for the opportunity to adjust their schedules as well as shift their job responsibilities between departments.

This integrative, radical approach is a huge step away from the traditional workforce, which is much more rigid and constructed.

Many employers are struggling to accommodate millennials, and have had problems retaining these young employees as a result.

In order to attract and retain millennial talent, research shows that employers need to do the following things when it comes to their business:

Create an Inviting Corporate Culture

Millennials value collaboration, so hearing their perspectives is important. Age is just a number to them. Since millennials make up the majority of the U.S. population, it’s very important to listen to their input if you want to continue to see your business succeed.

In addition to having their voices heard, they want to know that your company cares about what you do. What are your company’s values? What is your noble cause? What sort of community-based initiatives have you taken? A study by Cone Communications reports that 82% of millennials ages 18–24 and 75% ages 25–34 are concerned with a company’s moral and social responsibility, and take it into account when deciding where they want to work.

Innovate

Millennials are all about breaking down traditional corporate structures and putting their skills to use wherever needed. Allow your teams to mingle and exchange ideas. Having multiple perspectives from across the company can be beneficial for resolving problems and propelling new initiatives.

Allow Room for Growth

This is an important component for all employees. Many workers are not satisfied with the prospects of doing the same job every day until they retire. Allow your employees to climb the corporate ladder or make radical career shifts within your organization, and reward creative approaches to the job.

Regardless of age, nearly all employees want to know that their efforts are making a difference in the company and that they are able to display their efforts in different ways.

Before outsourcing for executive positions, consider internal promotion.

Employee satisfaction is key to a healthy, successful company. By taking the time to adjust your company environment, you’ll be able to retain millennials and help them put forth their best work.

Simple Practices Could be the Solution to Holiday Hair Loss

Approximately 35 million men are currently experiencing some form of hair loss, but could some of that hair loss be a result of holiday stress? Winter is harsh on the body, sapping moisture from skin and forcing many to stay indoors. The holidays are certainly a time of joy, but also a time of stress for many.

However, according to workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman, managing stress is the key to enjoying the holidays with minimal impact on your body, including your head of hair.

Newman explained that the holidays are difficult for many workers who must juggle work in addition to increased responsibilities at home. “Unrealistic expectations are more likely during this time of year,” she added.

The pressure to not only act happy, but make others feel happy, also rises during the holiday season. These additional pressures can work negatively against the body, even changing hormone levels.

Hair loss specialist Alan J. Bauman, M.D. explained that the holidays typically elevate cortisol levels, which is “a type of steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland,” explained Bauman. Cortisol, besides being associated with stress, can influence a condition called telogen effluvium, also known as excessive shedding.

In other words, holiday hair loss is a condition that plagues many people over the winter. In addition to loss of sleep and extra physical demand over the holidays, avoiding stress can seem impossible.

Above all else, Newman recommends acknowledging the issues and recognizing them as they appear. One of the biggest problems for many, she explained, is depression or anxiety. Social gatherings can often be an additional stress on those who struggle with anxiety. In these situations, Newman recommends thinking about seasonal topics and avoiding controversial issues.

In addition, Newman has advised workers to steer clear of holiday deals and advertising when possible. The pressure to buy can often place extreme financial pressure on people, increasing levels of stress even more.

Newman also warned against perfectionism. She said that above all else, you should know yourself and be aware of any perfectionist tendencies.

Think Before You Diet – Research Shows Our New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t That Great After All

With 90% of American households regularly indulging in a sweet, frozen treat, it is no secret that over eating and having a high body weight are just a couple of the reasons so many take up the same New Year’s resolution: losing weight.

Unfortunately, only eight percent of Americans actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. However, recent research has shown that this may not be all too bad for our health after all.

The American Psychiatric Association warns that New Year’s resolutions could be a leading factor behind many Americans developing orthorexia. This eating pattern, while not officially recognized as an eating disorder or a different category of mental illness, is the fixation on eating healthy.

According to the APA, orthorexia is described as a “dietary pattern in which an individual restricts intake to include only ‘healthy’ foods, such as vegetables or organic foods, but in doing so develops significant problems, such as an obsession with food and severe weight loss.”

The association goes on to explain that while orthorexia starts off as a simple commitment to clean eating, this healthy behavior soon becomes chaotic. Although those who start eating healthier have good intentions, the APA is noticing more cases of orthorexia occurring as a result of the mainstream ideas surrounding healthy eating and fad diets.

“Veganism and clean eating have seen a surge in popularity in recent years,” the APA explains to Medical Daily. “The decisions to eat food that is closest to its natural state and/or not to eat animal products are not inherently problematic choices or cause for alarm. … It is when the need to eat ‘good’ foods becomes ‘extreme, obsessive, psychologically limiting and sometimes physically dangerous’ that it is disruptive to an otherwise healthy life.”

However, orthorexia is not widely understood, so those who suffer from it may be misdiagnosed. Its symptoms are similar to both anorexia and restrictive food intake disorder. Orthorexia is seen in those who already suffer from mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety.

While members of the medical community have pushed to have orthorexia classified as its own eating disorder, the idea is in dispute. Opponents believe orthorexia is too similar to the behaviors seen in bulimia, anorexia, and OCD to distinguish it as a new disorder.

Nevertheless, doctors believe the risks of orthorexia are everywhere. They note that gluten-free, dairy-free, and carbohydrate-free products are more popular than ever, even though dairy and gluten intolerance aren’t as prevalent. Plus, with celebrities bragging publicly about their juice cleanse diets, doctors warn the risk of developing orthorexia or any other eating disorder is all too possible.

Not only that, but a new study from Vanderbilt University found that consumers tended to only buy healthier food if it was more expensive. An additional study determined that if consumers had two similar food items and weren’t sure which was healthier, they’d choose the more expensive one.

This assumption that a higher cost equates to healthier food is false, researchers report. Associate professor Kelly Haws of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management actually proved the opposite. She believes that despite theories, eating healthier doesn’t necessarily mean the food will cost more.

Haws explains to FOX 17 that studies show a healthy equals expensive bias when choosing food. In her studies, if a cheaper food was explained to be healthier, the consumer would spend more time researching the food and reading reviews.

As a result, Haws believes consumers on a budget are paying too much for their nutrition despite having the information that allows them to make budget-conscious decisions that are good for both their bodies and wallets.

President-Elect Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Poised to Bring Millions to U.S. Economy

Last year, the global construction equipment market was estimated to be sized at around $145.5 billion USD, but if President-elect Donald Trump has anything to do with it, that number may be on the rise.

Back on the campaign trail, Trump promised to spend $1 trillion within the next 10 years on a variety of infrastructure projects if elected. While that number may seem extreme, financial analysts believe this promise can lead to the approval of a spending bill already sitting in Congress.

“The GOP Congress is likely to work with Trump to pass a budget reconciliation bill that includes major tax and health-care changes, and the president-elect is probably going to want an infrastructure component as well,” said Loren Smith at Capital Alpha Partners LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy to the Wall Street Journal.

Since his win was announced, construction stocks have soared to new heights. Concrete, sand, and gravel suppliers Vulcan Materials Co. and Martin Marietta Materials Inc. grew to 10% and 12% respectively, while companies Manitowoc Co. and Terex Corp, which both manufacture construction equipment, increased 15% from the week before.

Trump has explained that he would develop a system of tax credits that will finance much-needed upgrades to roads, bridges, and airports through a partnership with public and private construction businesses.

While establishing these relationships can take a good chunk of time, financial analysts believe the long-term financial gain will be significant. As of right now, infrastructure work accounts for $150 billion going back into the U.S. economy. Trump claims that his suggested infrastructure program can increase that number 60%.

However, Trump hasn’t released any details on what projects he plans to create while in office. The only specific idea he identified is building the controversial border wall with Mexico. But if that plan ever got off the ground, the materials would come from an international company instead of a domestic partnership.

“If the wall were to be built, then we would of course be prepared to supply building materials for it,” said a spokesman for Germany-based HeidelbergCement AG.

Wisconsin Contractor Arrested After Stealing $11,400 from Client

It’s common to make renovations on your home. While 35% of remodeling jobs involve the entire home, most only focus on one or two areas. Yet one Wisconsin couple hired a contractor to do work on their gutters and deck before the winter weather hit, but unfortunately did not get what they paid for.

ON July 22, Richard Hunn of Waukesha made his second payment to Thomas Krivitz, owner of TK Improvements, for the services he requested. The contract stated that Krivitz was to start the project in 15 to 20 days, and would finish within 10 days. After receiving a total of $11,400 from Hunn, Krivitz did not return to the job site.

An investigation by Waukesha Police began on Sept. 16 to address the possibility of contractor theft and fraud, and what they found was astonishing.

During their investigation, the police found that Krivitz had spent $350,000 while gambling. After learning this, the police launched a further investigation to find out if the contractor had duped other victims as well. So far, police know of three victims and they expect more to come forward soon.

Prior to hiring TK Improvements, Hunn said that he’d researched the company with the Better Business Bureau, as well as checked out its references.

8830347_20161020_5983430

The company is not accredited with the BBB, but it does hold a B+ rating.

While he didn’t find anything incriminating, Hunn expresses remorse for not backing out sooner.

“I should have caught it a lot sooner,” said Hunn. “[Krivitz] was just making things up as he went along.”

Hunn does not anticipate getting any of his money back, but hopes that by launching the investigation and paving the way for more victims to come forward, no one else will suffer the same fate that he and his wife have. In the meantime, he’s still worried about having his deck and gutters fixed.

“I’m stuck now trying to find somebody else to finish this job before winter hopefully,” said Hunn.

Thomas Krivitz has been charged with theft by contractor, a felony, and is expected back in Waukesha County Court at the end of October.

Waukesha County Police are still looking for additional information about Krivitz as well as any additional victims. If you have any leads, please call Detective Tom Casey at 262-524-3924.

Data Breaches In the U.S. Government Become More of a Problem

According to the U.S. Office of Comptroller of the Currency, an employee who recently retired took along with him over 10,000 activity and staff records sometime in November 2015.

The unnamed worker copied a “large number” of files onto two thumb drives and, when asked to give them back, stated that they were lost

This internal security breach is being treated as a major event, but luckily, the risk to the government is not high. The data was encrypted, and thus far there is no sign that any information has fallen into the wrong hands.

The main issue for the OCC is that the data left the premises in the first place. Data and other security breaches cost America’s hospitals about $6 billion every year.

In August of 2016, the OCC implemented a new policy barring employees from transferring data to removable storage without a supervisor’s approval.

The policy came too late to prevent this particular incident, and investigators also stopped what might have been another breach on September 1st. These episodes reflect poorly on the United State’s cyber security efforts.

In the summer of 2015, hackers breached a computer at the personnel department of the U.S. government, compromising the data of over four million current and former employees.

The breach was later traced to China, but the Chinese government claimed that it was the work of criminal hackers, not state-sponsored ones. The hack resulted in millions of people having extremely sensitive information, including their fingerprints, Social Security numbers, and background checks stolen, the OPM director Katherine Archuleta resigning, and the government offering to pay to protect employees from possible identity theft.