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White House launches website for employers on health care reform law

Among other things, the website explains how key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will work and affect employers.

Opioid contracts for injured workers growing trend in Workers' Compensation

According to a recent article in Business Insurance, opioid contracts that require injured workers to give informed consent to long-term narcotic prescriptions are useful in preventing improper use of pain medications. Contracts are helpful in informing patients and physicians about the long-term dangers of such painkillers, and can give doctors a legal recourse if a patient appears to be heading toward prescription abuse.

FMCSA exempts short-haul drivers from HOS break requirement

A federal appeals court on Aug. 2 upheld all but one provision of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) 2011 hours-of-service final rule.

The exception was FMCSA's requirement for short-haul drivers to take 30-minute rest breaks following eight hours of driving.

Now exempt from the 30-minute rest break requirement are:

'Fracking' exposes workers to silica

Oil and gas workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica during directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations, a new NIOSH study concludes.

Researchers collected samples from 11 fracking sites in five states during a 15-month period and determined that the samples contained silica, which is associated with workers developing the deadly lung disease silicosis, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Masks commonly used at fracking sites may not be sufficient to protect workers because recorded silica concentration levels exceeded those respirators' maximum use concentration, study co-author Eric Esswein said in a press release.

NIOSH recommended using engineering controls to reduce the risk of silica exposure. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

AMA obesity classification could spike Workers' Comp costs: Report

A recent American Medical Association classification of obesity as a disease may significantly increase workers compensation claims costs, research released by the California Workers' Compensation Institute suggests.

New study finds hair-smoothing product can expose salon workers and clients to unsafe levels of formaldehyde

According to a recently published study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, both salon workers and their customers can be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of formaldehyde during the application of hair smoothing products. In particular, the University of California Berkeley researchers found that "using Brazilian Blowout, without proper engineering controls like local exhaust ventilation, could expose hairdressers and their clients to formaldehyde at levels above the short-term occupational exposure limits." To learn more about the findings, view the full study.