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Towers Watson survey shows increase in Workers' Comp rates

According to a survey by Towers Watson & Co. of the 2011 first quarter, Workers’ Comp rates rose 2% for the first time in over two years. While prices in California had been increasing, this was the first time in nearly six years that declines in other areas did not offset these increases and prices outside of California are increasing. This follows various recent reports that comp insurers' combined ratios have been deteriorating, their reserves are thinning, and claims frequency is up for the first time in years.

NIOSH resource for emergency responders in tornados

NIOSH has launched a web page to help keep first responders safe during tornado response and cleanup. The information is meant for site supervisors, workers and volunteers, and addresses many topics including immunization and health recommendations, carbon monoxide, disaster site management, fatigue, motor vehicles, and handling of human remains.

NIOSH guide: Preventing Worker Deaths from Trench Cave-ins

NIOSH has released a new guide for protecting employees in trenches. Preventing Worker Deaths from Trench Cave-ins addresses the hazards of trench work and factors that may contribute to collapse. It also includes case studies to help illustrate the importance of appropriate protection systems and pre-job planning.

Study: Making doctors aware of cost of regular blood tests reduces costs

Not every hospital patient needs to get routine blood tests every day, but that’s common practice. Researchers from Brown University and the University of Miami found that simply making physicians aware of the cost of regular blood tests cut the daily bill for the tests by as much as 27%.

Monitoring the baseline daily per-patient cost for two common lab tests, complete blood count and total chemistry panel, among surgical patients at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, they started a program of scripted weekly announcements to surgical house staff — the doctors-in-training who order the bulk of the tests — and their attending physicians, about the cost of those tests.

At the beginning of the program, the daily cost per non-intensive care patient was $147.73. Over the 11 weeks of the study, that dipped as low as $108.11, in the eighth week.

USCIS launches I-9 Central

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched I-9 Central, an online resource center dedicated to providing employers and workers quick access to information on immigration and employment eligibility regulations and guidance on how to properly fill out and file Form I-9.