New advisory committee to address commercial driver training


Washington A newly formed 26-member advisory committee will help to update classroom and behind-the-wheel training requirements for professional truck and bus drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Feb. 10.

The Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee includes safety advocates, training professionals, law-enforcement officials, labor union representatives, and members of intercity bus and trucking industries. The group's first meeting is slated for Feb. 26-27 in Arlington, VA.

FMCSA said the committee will examine a variety of issues, including minimum training requirements, accreditation versus certification of commercial driver's license training programs and schools, and instructor qualifications. FMCSA plans to issue a proposed training rule by fall 2015 and a final rule in 2016.

"Ensuring roadway safety starts with the driver," FMCSA Acting Administrator T.F. Scott Darling III said in a press release. "Finalizing new training requirements for truck and bus operators is one of my top priorities, and we have tapped a group of uniquely qualified stakeholders to help us work through the details and meet this goal."

Low back pain linked to awkward positions, distractions: study


Sydney Awkward body positions, distractions and fatigue may contribute to low back pain, suggests a new study from the University of Sydney.

Nearly 1,000 patients with acute low back pain from 300 clinics were asked to report various exposures leading up to the onset of pain. Of the exposures, distractions during an activity had the highest odds of developing back pain, and moderate or vigorous physical activity had the lowest odds.

"Understanding which risk factors contribute to back pain and controlling exposure to these risks is an important first step in prevention," study co-author Manuela Ferreira said in a press release. Ferreira is an associate professor with the George Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

The back is one of the most common body parts affected by workplace injuries or illnesses, with an incident rate of 20 per 10,000 workers and causing a median seven days away from work in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study was published in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal from the American College of Rheumatology.

Study finds few health benefits from treadmill desks


Corvallis, OR Workers who use treadmill desks experience a slight increase in physical activity but reap few health benefits, a study from Oregon State University suggests.

About 40 overweight or obese workers at a health insurance company participated in the 12-week study, with half using treadmill desks.
Data indicated that workers who used the treadmill desks increased their average number of daily steps by more than 1,000, added nearly two minutes of physical activity per hour, and decreased their sedentary time by nearly four minutes per hour. However, they did not significantly lose weight or alter their body mass index.

The workers used the treadmills only about half the requested time, and on average, they walked 1.8 mph which would be considered light activity, according to a press release. Health guidelines suggest adults get 30 minutes of moderate or intense physical activity several days a week.

Researchers said that although increasing steps might gain cardiovascular and other health benefits, the benefits might not outweigh the cost of treadmill desks, and workers would likely need to perform more physical activity to combat effects of sedentary behavior.

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.