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American public has negative views about workers' comp - survey

An online survey in October revealed that the there is a negative perception among many Americans about how the workers' comp system works and those who benefit from it. Harris Interactive performed the online survey of more than 2000 people, commissioned by Phoenix-based Summit Pharmacy. The survey revealed:

Such a perception is one reason claims can spiral out of control. If workers face the stigma of fraud accusations when injured or can't navigate the bureaucracy of paperwork, they are more likely to delay in reporting injuries, engage a lawyer, or develop a disability mentality.

Construction safety materials in Spanish available from CPWR

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is now offering several of its resources in Spanish. The Spanish-language hazards alert cards address topics such as silica, trenches and aerial lifts. Three animated videos chronicle true stories about a fatal trench collapse, a ladder fall and an electrocution, as well as provide guidance on how to prevent similar incidents.

Other training materials - including "The Day Laborers' Health and Safety Workbook" and the "Trainer's Companion Guide" - and resources for a four-hour hazard communication course - also are available.

Smokers more likely to develop chronic back pain - study

A new Northwestern Medicine® study has found that smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop chronic back pain. According to researchers, this is the first study to suggest that smoking interferes with a brain circuit associated with pain, making smokers more prone to chronic back pain.

The study was published online in the journal Human Brain Mapping.

Fall protection website targets residential construction workers

In an effort to help residential construction workers stay safe, a new website is providing details on fall protection methods and equipment. The online resource includes descriptions, pictures and installation instructions for various types of fall protection devices. Much of the equipment is highlighted in OSHA's guidance document for residential construction.

Walking workstations more helpful than cycling workstations to improve physical, mental health: study

Workers who use "walking workstations" reap both physical and mental health benefits, according to a new study from the Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. They found that participants who used walking workstations - which incorporate treadmills - were less bored and stressed, and felt higher satisfaction than participants who stood or sat at their workstations.

Participants who used cycling workstations felt less satisfaction and had lower performance than those who used the other setups. The study was published online Oct. 27 in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Hospital workers wash hands less frequently at end of shift - study

Hospital workers who deal directly with patients wash their hands less frequently as their workday progresses, probably because the demands of the job deplete the mental reserves they need to follow rules, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Researchers found that "hand-washing compliance rates" dropped by an average of 8.7 percentage points from the beginning to the end of a typical 12-hour shift. The decline in compliance was magnified by increased work intensity.

Lead researcher, Hengchen Dai, noted "Demanding jobs have the potential to energize employees, but the pressure may make them focus more on maintaining performance on their primary tasks (e.g., patient assessment, medication distribution), particularly when they are fatigued. For hospital caregivers, hand-washing may be viewed as a lower-priority task and thus it appears compliance with hand hygiene guidelines suffers as the workday progresses."

The researchers noted that this research could be applied to other types of workplace compliance, such as ethics standards in banking, safe-driving behaviors in trucking and safety standards in manufacturing.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire join the federal Labor Department's misclassification initiative

Through a "Misclassification Initiative," the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to actively engage state regulators in a joint effort to investigate and enforce provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) involving the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Over the course of last three years, the DOL signed several "Memoranda of Understanding" with 17 states to share information and coordinate efforts to investigate employers for misclassifying employees. The states include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Washington.