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Study examines characteristics of same-level falls

Falls on the same level result in injuries more than twice as often as falls to a lower level, according to a new study from Virginia Tech. Researchers used 2006-2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to analyze fall characteristics and found that falls, in particular falls to the same level, increased during that period even as the overall number of workplace injuries requiring days away from work decreased.

Researchers found Workers' Compensation costs increased 25 percent from 2006 to 2009 specifically for falls from the same level. Additionally, more than 29 percent of same-level fall injuries resulted in 31 or more lost workdays. Falls on the same level primarily involved floors, walkways or ground surfaces, and the risk was higher in the health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food services industries, according to the study abstract.

The risk for same-level falls was higher for females and older workers. Researchers recommended educating older workers on awareness of their physical and cognitive limitations, and advised employers to adjust work environments to reduce fall risks.

The study was published in the February issue of the journal Ergonomics.

Regulations require employees to receive health coverage within 90 days of hire

Newly hired employees will have to be offered health insurance coverage no later than 90 days after they begin work, under newly proposed health care reform law regulations, jointly issued by the Internal Revenue Service and the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. The regulations relate to a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that, effective in 2014, will limit health insurance coverage waiting periods to 90 days.

Risk of patient harassment and assault may lead to burnout and increased absences among health care workers

A new report from the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care finds that health care workers are at risk for bullying, harassment and physical assault from patients, which is often accepted as normal in the workplace. The environment creates "a culture of fear and intimidation that saps joy and meaning from work," the report states, and may contribute to burnout, lost work hours, employee turnover and illnesses.

The report offers seven strategies to improve worker and patient safety, including adopting a clear goal to eliminate harm to workers, establishing data and performance metrics for accountability and improvement, and providing high-visibility recognition for worker achievements.

FMCSA denies HOS compliance date extension

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will not be granting a compliance date extension for its hours-of-service final rule. The Arlington, VA-based American Trucking Association had requested that FMCSA delay the July 1, 2013, compliance date by three months following a court decision on its petition to review, which is expected sometime between mid-May and early June.

Report examines safety risks for undocumented construction workers

Undocumented construction workers often lack training and fear retaliation for raising safety concerns concludes a new report. from the Workers Defense Project, a group that advocates fair employment for low-income workers. The report is based on a survey of 1,194 Texas construction workers conducted between May and July 2012.

I-9 Audits experience huge jump

The number of I-9 audits multiplied over the past decade, rising from almost none -- just three in 2004 -- to 500 in 2008 and 3,004 in 2012. Employers should pay attention accordingly, as the fines for substantive and procedural violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act can add up quickly.

Crane operator certifier: recreational marijuana still prohibited

Despite Colorado and Washington legalizing small quantities of marijuana for recreational use, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators has announced that its substance abuse policy still prohibits workers from using the drug.

The policy also will continue to prohibit the use of medical marijuana. Workers found not in compliance with NCCCO's drug policy will have their certification status automatically revoked, the commission said.

Massachusetts's law seeks to promote safety of social workers

Legislation recently signed into law by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick aims to improve the safety of social workers. The law requires all direct service providers receiving funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to supply workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans. The plans must be updated annually for social workers, human services workers, volunteers and other employees. In addition to outlining details that should be included in prevention plans, the law allows the office to offer training for employees.

Physician-dispensed drugs add to workers' comp claim costs: CWCI

Medical benefits for California Workers' Compensation claims that include physician-dispensed medications cost 17% more than other claims, according to a study by the California Workers' Compensation Institute. Comp claims with physician-dispensed drugs saw an average of $4,455 in paid indemnity benefits compared with $3,937 in average indemnity benefits for claims without repackaged drugs.

The Institute also said that repackaged drug claims are correlated with longer return-to-work times. Claims with physician-dispensed drugs averaged 44.1 paid temporary disability days, compared with 40.5 days for claims without repackaged prescriptions, according to the study.

New rule allows injured Michigan workers to be paid electronically

A new rule filed by the Michigan Workers' Compensation Agency (WCA) allows injured workers to receive their weekly payments electronically.

To view the WCA's new rule visit: