Health and Safety

The Eye Opener- Test Your Optical IQ…

October 19, 2010

Which One Does NOT Apply

Reading Glasses
a.    Single Vision Lenses
b.    Used for Correcting Presbyopia
c.    May be Used for Distance or Near Vision

Harlem Doctors Fight to Revive Threatened Hospital

By Harrison Magee
Oct. 18, 2010

Physicians, union supporters, and concerned members of the community rallied at noon on Wednesday outside of Harlem Hospital to protest the ongoing staff and service cuts being made at the center, which is the city's flagship public medical facility.  The action, which gathered hundreds of protesters, was organized by the Doctors’ Council of SEIU, the bargaining unit representing the nearly 200 physicians on staff at the HHC.

The Eye Opener - Visual Display Terminals

October 4, 2010

Computer Eye Strain in the Work Place……..

With so many of us using computers at work, computer eye strain has become one of the major office-related optical health complaints.  These problems can cause physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased work errors.  Here are some steps you can take to reduce computer eye strain.

Blaming the Worker: Tarrytown Official Points Finger at Two Who Died

Memorial in Tarrytown for Two Workers Who Died in Manhole Reprinted from NYCOSH UPDATE
September 28, 2010

It happened Labor Day of all days. Two workers died in a Tarrytown sewer after one who climbed down a manhole failed to come back up and another went down to try to save him. Later that week, the village administrator held a press conference in which he suggested that fault lay with the victims.

The union to which both victims, Anthony Ruggiero, Jr. and John Kelly, belonged, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) shot back. In a separate press conference on September 14, CSEA officials slammed the village for failing to follow OSHA standards for permit-required confined spaces, including having no written program and neglecting to give employees proper training.

“These deaths were 100 percent preventable,” said Billy Riccaldo, CSEA Southern Region President. He said the Tarrytown administrator’s statements were “another example of employers putting the blame on workers rather than accepting the responsibility for providing the required workplace protections.”

The Eye Opener - Prevent Sports Injuries

September 13, 2010

Every year there are over 40,000 eye injuries due to sports in the United States.  Baseball accounts for many injuries in children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.  In children ages 15-24 eye injuries can be caused by basketball.  It is estimated that most if these injuries might be prevented with the use of protective eyewear.  Some states have become very proactive in working to avert eye injuries due to sports activities by requiring protective eyewear for children who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses.  These are known as sports goggles and are made with lenses that are shatterproof.  “ I made an appointment with our optometrist to discuss protective eyewear for my son who wants to play sports at school this fall”, says Karen of Customer Service at General Vision Services.  If you or your child participates in sports activities, ask your optometrist about protective eyewear during your next eye appointment.  

Call 1-800 VISION-1 for a General Vision Service location near you.”

About Us
GVS is the largest third party optical administrator in the New York area serving over 5 million union members. 
For more information see or e-mail Ken Levin at


The Eye Opener - Scheduling Your Next Eye Exam Is Important

Don’t wait for your next scheduled eye exam if you have……..eye floaters, flashes and spots.  Eye floaters are tiny spots that do just that float around in your field of vision. Although they are annoying, they are quite common.

Floaters and spots are small pieces of the eye’s gel-like vitreous that break loose within the inner back portion of the eye.  This can be a product of age and these small particles may have various shapes and “float” as the eye moves.  These tiny spots and floaters are more pronounced when one looks up at a bright sky for example. “I have just recently experienced these symptoms myself during a bright summer day”, says Diane Bowin Director of Provider Relations, General Vision Services.

The Eye Opener - Summer Fun and the Summer Sun

Most people routinely cover their bodies with sunscreen when heading off to the beach, but have you considered the effect the sun has on your eyes?  Studies have shown that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, growths on the eye, and eye cancer.  Not only is it of paramount importance to protect the eyes when outside, but also when using a tanning bed.  Doctors now know that ultraviolet radiation whether natural or artificial can damage the eye's surface as well 
as the cornea and the lens.

There are some measures you can take to prevent damage to the eyes.  Look for sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection against UV-A and UV-B rays.  Wrap around styles extend all the way around to your temples.  Hats offer additional coverage when worn with sunglasses. Get your children used to gearing up when enjoying the sun, and it will become a healthy habit they will continue into adulthood.  Even if your contact lenses have ultraviolet protection, wear sunglasses.  Never look directly at the sun.  This can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye's retina.  
“Call 1-800 VISION-1 for a General Vision Service location near you.”

About Us
GVS is the largest third party optical administrator in the New York area serving over 5 million union members.
For more information see or e-mail Ken Levin at


Health Care Reform Series: Brought to you by Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Tom Canty, Vice President & General Manager for Labor, Government & Special Accounts at Empire BlueCross BlueShieldWhat does the Early Retiree Reinsurance Subsidy mean to Taft-Hartley Funds and other employers?

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Subsidy provides $5 billion to Taft-Hartley Funds and other employers to help them maintain health coverage for early retirees ages 55-64, their spouses, surviving spouses and dependents. Applications are be available from the Department of Health and Human Services and will be processed on first-come, first-served basis.

High Level Program Requirements:
The key elements of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program are:

  • The program regulations became effective June 1, 2010.
    By law, the program will expire on January 1, 2014, or when the $5 billion Congress allocated through the legislation is exhausted.
    The program applies to fully insured and self-insured groups
    providing early retiree coverage. All groups (except federal governmental plans) are eligible, regardless of size.

The Eye Opener - Dilation & Routine Eye Examinations



This is a question that is asked often by patients when they go for a routine eye examination and the doctor recommends that he or she dilate the pupil. Pupil dilation is extremely important because it allows the optometrist to look into the back of the eye. The reason should always be explained to the patient before dilation is performed.  We often hear a patient complain that he didn’t want or ask for his eyes to be dilated, but rather just wanted refraction for eyeglasses. “ There are so many reasons that the doctor will dilate however explaining that this procedure enables the optometrist to early detect health problems such as hypertension, glaucoma and cataracts very early will alleviate confusion on the part of the patient,” says Diane Bowin, Director of Provider Relations for GVS. Patients with any eye diseases or other physiological diseases such as diabetes need to have these exams often.  Making patients aware of all the reasons for dilation during a routine eye examination will help foster confidence and trust with the patient as well as general good health.

Call 1-800-VISION-1 for a General Vision Service location near you.

About Us
GVS is the largest third party optical administrator in the New York area serving over 5 million union members.
For more information see or e-mail Ken Levin at

Health & Wellness - Sun Safety Tips

One of the things I enjoy most about summer is that it gets us outdoors to enjoy various activities. Whether it’s for work or fun, this time of year is a good time to keep in mind that skin safety is very important for you and your family. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States*.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind during the summer and year round.
• Always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15.  Broad spectrum sunscreens are best as they absorb a higher percentage of UVA and UVB sun rays.
• Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas at least 20-30 minutes before going outside.  This allows the sunscreen to bind to your skin so it won’t immediately “sweat” off. 

* Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

For detailed tips, click “Read More”

Meet Tom Canty

Tom will be hosting this column to share unbiased health insurance industry news.  Tom is the Vice President & General Manager for Labor, Government and Special Accounts at Empire BlueCross BlueShield.  As labor, state and local government segment veteran, Tom is no stranger to organizations like yours. We took a few minutes to ask Tom some questions...

Q.  Tell us a little about your current role?
A.  I’ve been leading Empire’s Labor, Government and Special Accounts division for nearly 10 years.  Supported by an experienced team, I provide medical and ancillary insurance products for NY’s unions, municipalities, government and hospital groups.

Q.  And what were you doing prior to joining Empire?
A.  My past roles include being the Executive Director of the New York State Workers Compensation Board and an Administrative Law Judge with the New York State Employment Relations Board. Before serving in State Government, I practiced with the law firm of Colloran, O’Hara and Mills, where my focus was representing unions.

Q.  Anything in closing?
A.  This segment is very near and dear to me and I look forward to contributing to Labor Press.

What Do I Do Now?! - Workers' Comp and Other Mysteries



Joe was working as a lifeguard out on Long Beach.  The day was perfect, the waves were calm, and there were no sharks in sight.  Some pretty girls walked by Joe’s lifeguard stand, giggling and throwing flirtatious glances up at Joe.  Trying to act nonchalant, yet impress them with his important job, Joe started twirling his whistle. Only he twirled it a little bit too hard.  The whistle smacked him right in the face and Joe broke his own nose.  Badly.  

On top of the ER visit, the stitches, the ice pack, the great painkillers and the utter humiliation of looking like a chump in front of a bunch of girls, Joe was really worried that because it was his own fault his nose was broken he wouldn’t be covered by Workers’ Comp.  What should he do?!

YES WE CAN! - Health Care For Every American

neal and friends

By: Neal Tepel

After a year debate and stalling, a deeply divided Congress has passed landmark health care legislation known as H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010. Every American will now be provided with health care coverage including the 32 million uninsured Americans.  This ground-breaking legislation will finally tackle the many abuses by the insurance industry.  With the country is a deep recession, HR 3590 also addresses a growing budget shortfall. According to the Congressional Budget Office this legislation would reduce the deficit by $143 billion over 10 years. The $938 billion cost would be offset by penalties, new taxes and fees.
This bill addresses the disparity in heath services between poor Americans and the rich, between those receiving the finest health services on the planet and those uninsured. The new law will allow for the expansion of the community health centers in local neighborhoods. This will have a substantial savings to hospitals since many in underprivileged neighborhoods use emergency rooms for their primary care. The increase of screening and prevention programs created by funding under this legislation will save thousand from sickness or death.  

ANNOUNCING NEW WEEKLY COLUMN What Do I Do Now?! - Workers' Comp and Other Mysteries




Under the New York State Workers' Compensation Law, an injured worker has two years to file a claim from the date of accident.  Even if a worker injured the same body part, it is essential that a new case be filled. 


On April 14, 2000, Joe Worker hurt his back on the job.  The injury caused him to lose two months of work because of a back sprain.  He then went back to work and stayed on the job without difficulties until July 22, 2003.  On that day, he had a new accident that also caused a back injury.  An MRI showed that he now had a herniated disc that required surgery.  But Joe did not want to have the surgery because he could not get time off from work.  


Unfortunately, he did not know he should file a new claim. Because he had hurt his back in 2000, he figured that this recent injury was related to the old case.  On October 5, 2005, Joe’s back was killing him and he finally agreed he needed surgery. However, when Joe contacted the New York City Law Department he was advised that because they had no record of an accident from 2003 his surgery was being denied.  When Joe contacted the carrier on the earlier case, he was told that surgery had been denied because it was not related to the 2000 date of accident.  Joe then contacted his private carrier who denied liability because this recent injury was the result of a work-related accident.  Joe was stuck. 

Additional information