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Free kit available to employers from National Safety Council to help communicate and develop policies around use of prescription painkillers

The kit contains the following materials:

EEOC issues new guidance on pregnancy discrimination and ADA accommodations for pregnant workers

On July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues. This guidance updates and replaces the commission's Compliance Manual section and prior guidance addressing pregnancy discrimination. Many of the ideas in the revised guidance shed light on what constitutes reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Risk profiles dramatically impact renewal rates

Large employers are seeing comp rates that are flat to up an average rate increase of 2.5%, while middle-market employers are seeing rate increases in the 2.5% to 5.5% range, with increases up to 10% for employers with higher-risk profiles, especially those in California, said experts at Willis North America Inc., Lockton Cos. L.L.C., and Aon Risk Solutions. These increases are slightly lower than they were last year, when rate hikes ranged from 2.5% to 5% for large employers and 5% to 10% for mid-market employers.

Despite the leveling of rate increases, employers with high experience modification factors and risk profiles will continue to see greater increases.

Rotating shift work linked to type 2 diabetes

Adding to the body of research regarding the negative effects of shift work on health, this new study finds that working overnight or rotating shifts is associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. In their analysis, published in the journal, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, the researchers found working rotating shifts, rather than consistent daytime work hours, was associated with a 42 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Overall they concluded that people working unconventional schedules -- especially working the 'graveyard' shift -- might increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by an average of 9 percent.

The researchers also observed that male shift workers with erratic schedules had a higher risk for type 2 diabetes compared with women who worked similar schedules. The researchers say shift work may be more detrimental to men because levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, are controlled by the body's natural circadian rhythm. Lower testosterone can cause insulin resistance and therefore raise one's risk for diabetes.

FMCSA says electronic signatures OK for records of duty status

Truck drivers who use laptops, tablets or smartphones to update their records of duty status no longer will have to print and sign paper copies of the documents, according to new regulatory guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

However, truck drivers who abandon the print-and-sign option must be able to sign the records of duty status electronically at the end of each workday. They also must maintain signed electronic records for the previous seven days and be able to display the records on their device during roadside inspections by enforcement officials. The FMCSA notes that the laptops, tablets and smartphones with logging software programs still do not meet federal requirements for automatic on-board recording devices.

Guide aims to help small businesses with respiratory protection

A new comprehensive guide from Oregon OSHA intends to help small-business owners and managers develop respiratory protection programs.

The 44-page guide, titled Breathe Right, summarizes:

Also included in the guide is a list of fit-test and seal-check methods; a recommended schedule for cleaning, inspecting and storing respirators; and the key differences between air-purifying respirators and atmosphere-supplying respirators.

Online tool promotes safe material handling

Scientific research organization IRSST has released a free online resource intended to help identify workplace musculoskeletal disorder risks and avoid injuries related to material handling.

The support tool includes five worksheets that focus on the following objectives: