Remove smart watch before driving, NSC says


The National Safety Council has issued a statement regarding the risks of using a smart watch such as the newly released Apple Watch while driving. Numerous studies have shown that drivers who use a cell phone behind the wheel significantly increase their risk of being involved in a crash. Smart watches, which have capabilities similar to smartphones, could be even riskier. The council urges everyone who purchases a smart watch to turn it off or remove it before driving.

Spike in synthetic drug use prompts warning


Alexandria, VA A disturbing trend indicates that many people are not aware of the extreme dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

AAPCC issued a warning April 23 regarding the products, which sometimes are referred to as "synthetic marijuana." The chemical formulas included in the synthetic drugs are not consistent and can pose life-threatening risks.

Since the start of 2015, poison centers have received thousands of calls from people harmed by the products. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a health alert after 160 people were hospitalized because of the drugs during a nine-day span.

Experts say synthetic cannabinoids have multiple adverse side effects, including:
Anxiety and agitation
Racing pulse and increased blood pressure
Nausea and vomiting
Muscle spasms and seizures
Hallucinations and psychotic episodes
Harmful or suicidal thoughts

"These synthetic drugs present a potentially fatal risk that is not well recognized by people consuming these products," AAPCC President Jay Schauben said in a press release. "The recent death of five people suspected of using this category of drugs underscores the urgency of controlling these drugs and educating the public of their dangers."

On Workers Memorial Day, safety leaders urge greater prevention efforts


Washington Although the number of workplace deaths has declined over the past four decades, too many people in the United States die on the job, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said April 28 on Workers Memorial Day.

The annual commemoration day is for mourning workers who have lost their lives and for recommitting to on-the-job safety, Perez said in a statement.

"As we mourn the lives lost on the job, we must make sure workers know their rights and employers know their responsibilities. In doing so, we can prevent tragic loss and ensure every worker goes home safely at the end of every workday," Perez said.

Several Workers Memorial Day events took place throughout the country. At the Oklahoma State Capitol, OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Director David Bates said the 12 daily worker deaths and the millions of injuries every year are preventable through "basic" safety and health techniques. "No job is a good job unless it's a safe job," he said.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka likewise urged continuing efforts for safer jobs, and for employers to address hazardous conditions. He also called on lawmakers to create jobs that "ensure the dignity and safety every worker deserves."

On the global front, the International Labor Organization on April 28 commemorated World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The agency encouraged the creation of a national culture of prevention that includes respecting the right to a safe and healthy working environment, and active participation from stakeholders.

"Each and every one of us can contribute to the prevention of occupational deaths, injuries and diseases," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement. "Together we can build a culture of prevention on occupational safety and health."

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.