July 16, 2014 | Volume 12, Number 14

Study: More Drivers Using Multiple Substances

More and more drivers are testing positive for prescription drugs, cannabis, and other substances, according to a press release from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

Dr. Fernando Wilson of UNMC looked at driver data from those who tested positive for substance abuse and were involved in fatal crashes from 1993 to 2010. In that time span, the percentage of drivers using three or more drugs nearly doubled, from 11.5 to 21.5.

The study also revealed that of those drivers who were identified as substance abusers, nearly 70 percent tested positive for both cocaine and alcohol, and that over 50 percent were taking both cannabis and alcohol. Age also was a factor, 60 percent of marijuana-only users were younger than 30 while almost 40 percent of prescription drug users were at least 50 years old.

This trend parallels an overall increase in prescription drug use among older Americans. Ninety percent of those ages 65 and up have expenses related to prescription drugs.

For more information, read the UNMC press release.

New Research Examines Employee Performance and Outcomes Post-Injury

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has released eight state-specific studies that point out new predictors of worker outcomes that can help improve the treatment and communication workers receive after they are hurt on the job, and hopefully lead to better outcomes.

According to a WCRI press release, the studies revealed trust as a vital predictor that had not been looked at before. Interviews with workers revealed that workers who feared being fired because of their injury experienced less favorable return-to-work outcomes.

The studies, collectively called Predictors of Worker Outcomes, interviewed over 3,200 injured employees over the phone in eight states: Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

For more information, read the press release or download the actual reports.

NIOSH Updates Buy Quiet Website, Offers New Content

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published new online content urging businesses to buy or rent quieter machinery and tools that help them comply with noise-related regulations and reduce incidents of noise-induced hearing loss.

According to a NIOSH press release, the new web materials include a YouTube video, posters, and a list of Buy Quiet partners. The website provides background on the Buy Quiet program, its key components, and NIOSH efforts to promote the initiative.

Buy Quiet seeks to educate businesses about noise levels and urge manufacturers to develop quieter machines, all of which can help prevent hearing loss, minimize noise levels in any community, and cut down costs of audio metric testing, personal protective equipment, and workers' compensation. About 22 million workers in the US are exposed to dangerous noise levels.

Buy Quiet is a part of the wider NIOSH initiatives, Hearing Loss Prevention Program and Prevention through Design.

For more information, read the NIOSH release or visit the Buy Quiet website.

Temporary Enforcement Policy for Rule on Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Installation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a temporary enforcement policy regarding the general industry and construction standards for work on electric power generation, transmission and distribution installations and for electrical protective equipment.

The policy covers 29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269; and 29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V.

In a memo from OSHA’s top officials, OSHA said that from July 10, 2014 to October 31, 2014:

  • No citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.269 or 1926, Subpart V to employers who are in compliance with the version of 29 CFR 1910.269 that was in effect on April 11, 2014, and
  • No citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.137(b) or 29 CFR 1926.97(b).

However, OSHA said that the policy does not cover paragraphs (a) and (c) of 29 CFR 1910.137 and 29 CFR 1926.97, both of which took effect and are enforceable on July 10, 2014. Also, if an OSHA Area Director establishes noncompliance with a prior version of 29 CFR 1910.269, an employer may receive citations, as appropriate, of violations of any effective and applicable provision of revised 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V.

For more information, read the full memorandum.

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