Five Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions to Diet and Exercise Might Be Unhealthy

Start 2013 key on computer keyboardYear after year, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthy and lose weight.
But as resolutions and health regimens are about to be in full swing, many might find that instead of feeling good they are feeling worse. And the reason might be due to the one thing that should be helping: exercise.

“Not only can new workout routines be difficult for those with asthma, but several allergens can be found lurking in health clubs making this healthy activity bothersome for the more than 40 million Americans that suffer from allergies,” said allergist Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “By understanding what triggers symptoms, those with allergies and asthma will be able to feel good and remain active.”

To help those with New Year’s resolutions succeed, ACAAI has identified the five most common allergy and asthma exercise ailments, with tips on how to overcome them.

Over Stepping your Boundaries – If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and unusual fatigue you might have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). The condition affects about 10 percent of Americans. Find relief by using your allergist prescribed inhaler before you begin your workout routine. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can also help.

Think Before you Eat – Whether you’ve signed up for a dieting meal plan or are opting for foods with less calories, be sure to always read nutrition labels before you consume new items. Many products contain hidden food allergens, such as milk, wheat and egg. Energy bars can also be loaded with allergens, including soy and nuts, that affect certain people.

Choose Equipment Wisely – While most exercise machines won’t cause you to sneeze or wheeze, rubber mats, medicine balls and some rubber coated free weights might. Latex can often be found in these items, causing those with latex allergies to develop a rash or hives. Also beware of disinfectant wipes and sprays used to clean gym equipment. They can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can spur an asthma attack or cause skin irritation.

Explore the Great Indoors – If you’re allergic to pollen, grass and other environmental factors, hit the ground running indoors. Not a fan of treadmills and indoor tracks? Take your allergy medication and avoid running outdoors during mid-day and afternoon hours when pollen counts may be highest. Be sure to change your clothes and shower immediately after finishing your workout to remove any particles that might have fallen onto your clothes and hair.

Opt for Comfort over Fashion – If your workout leaves you itchy and you’ve ruled out other gym culprits, your clothing might be the setback. Synthetic materials used in everything from shirts to socks could be irritating your skin. ACAAI recommends checking clothing labels and opting for Lycra (spandex) which is higher quality and less likely to irritate your skin. Garments made of natural products can also help. If you have a latex allergy, be wary of athletic shoes and elastic waistbands.

Source: Science Daily

California DWC Preparing Balanced Approach to SB 863 Implementation

Elephant balancing on a ballBy 12/26/2012 10:03:00

The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is on target for implementation of Senate Bill 863’s effective date of Jan. 1, 2013. The division is taking a balanced approach that will reflect the bill’s intention to balance substantial benefit increases to injured workers with efficiencies and cost savings to employers.
Some aspects of SB 863 will become law on Jan. 1, 2013 without any regulatory action. For example, for injuries on or after Jan. 1, 2013, permanent disability indemnity benefits will automatically increase by approximately 30 percent overall. The new minimum rate will be $160 per week and the new maximum rate will also increase, based on the level of permanent disability indemnity, as follows:

• $230 per week for PD ratings from 1 to 54 percent
• $270 per week for PD ratings from 55 to 69 percent
• $290 per week for PD ratings between 70 and 99 percent.

For injuries on or after Jan. 1, 2014, the new maximum rate will be $290 per week for all PD levels.
For an injury on or after Jan. 1, 2013 that causes the employee’s death, reasonable expenses for the employee’s burial will increase up to $10,000.

Other aspects of SB 863 require implementation through regulations. To meet the Jan. 1, 2013 implementation deadline, DWC’s legal staff initiated the emergency rulemaking process overseen by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Regulations required to effectuate the independent medical review process, the independent bill review process, lien activation and lien filing fee payment, qualified medical evaluator changes, supplemental job displacement benefits, and interpreter certification have been submitted to OAL for approval. Each of these emergency regulatory actions will be followed by the full rulemaking process, also overseen by OAL, over the next year.

DWC will continue to make improvements to its website to help stakeholders navigate the changes in the law. Informative content has now been posted that explains the efficiencies brought to the system through the following changes:

Independent Medical Review (IMR) Continue reading California DWC Preparing Balanced Approach to SB 863 Implementation

Protecting Patient Data on Mobile Devices: New HHS Guidance

iPod Touch with Red Cross graphic on screen
The 411 for Healthcare Pros

 Medscape Medical News

Marcia Frellick

With patient data increasingly transferred via smartphones, laptops, and tablets, physicians and other healthcare providers are facing increasing challenges in keeping the data safe.

Now there’s help from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which opened an online portal December 12 with tips, fact sheets, posters, and videos to help providers lock down private information.

The initiative, “Mobile Devices: Know the RISKS. Take the STEPS. PROTECT and SECURE Health Information,” is available at on HHS’ HealthIT Web site.

The site includes advice on topics such as:

Encryption: This converts the data so that no one can read it without the decryption key or password. It prevents unauthorized access while the data is in transit — for instance, when accessing an electronic health record system or receiving lab results. Some devices come with built-in encryption. If not, users need to download an app.

• Passwords: Strong passwords need at least 6 characters, a mix of upper and lower case, and at least 1 number and 1 punctuation mark.

• Remote disabling: This allows users to erase data if the device is lost or stolen. You can temporarily delete the data remotely and unlock it if the device is recovered.

• Setting up a firewall: If an authorized user is trying to access your data, a firewall can block the attempt. If your system has a built-in firewall, research your device to enable it.

• Using automatic log-off: Configure a device to log off after a period of time you specify.

• Using public wi-fi: If you’re transmitting data in a coffee shop or airport, use a virtual private network (VPN) or a secure browser (one with https in the Web site address rather than http). Otherwise, people nearby can tap into and even download the data you’re transmitting.

• Verifying app functions: Downloading the wrong mobile app could copy your address book or private data to an unauthorized user without your knowledge. Research the app and read reviews you trust to make sure it performs only the functions you request.

• Hiding your screen: A privacy screen can keep others around you from seeing what you’re seeing.

• Disposing of devices:
 Data must be properly deleted before the device is destroyed or reused.••

Continue reading Protecting Patient Data on Mobile Devices: New HHS Guidance

Of the 5 Health Care Trends to Watch in 2013 … Here’s #3

2013 New Year's countdown stopwatchEmployer Decisions

One of the most significant industry questions post-ACA: Will employers continue to provide traditional health benefits for their workers, drop coverage or adopt new models in hopes of controlling spending?

It’s been hard to get a clear answer, partly because firms have been slow to announce their changes, fearing public backlash. “Road to Reform” recently reviewed a slew of employer efforts to control benefit costs, such as possibly shifting more full-time workers into part-time arrangements, and the accompanying critical news reports.

One of those companies was Darden Restaurants, which has since clarified that it would not be modifying workers’ hours.

“The program was only a test,” Darden spokesperson Matt Kobussen tells California Healthline, and “none of [the company’s] current full-time employees, hourly or salaried, will have their full-time status changed as a result of health care reform.”

But less-public changes to benefit design and provision are well in the works, at Darden and elsewhere. For example, the restaurant company is among several major firms exploring whether using defined contribution — where employers pay a fixed amount into employees’ health plans and allow workers to choose their coverage from an online marketplace — would be a more cost-effective way to provide health coverage.

Read more:

Construction Workers, Independent Contractors, Workers’ Comp & You

December 4, 2012 By Rebecca Shafer, J.D.

sign posts with factors to consider for hiring independent contractorsWho Is and Isn’t Covered by Workers’ Comp in Construction?

Employers in the construction industry are often perplexed as to who they should cover with their workers’ compensation insurance policy.  Full-time employees are covered, but what about part-time employees, day laborers, leased employees, borrowed employees and occasional volunteer work by a family member?  In most states all of these types of employees will be covered by the workers’ compensation insurance policy.  However, independent contractors are normally excluded from coverage by the workers’ compensation insurance policy.

The issue that arises most often between independent contractors and construction company employers is when the independent contractor does not have workers’ compensation insurance of his/her own and is injured while working for the employer.  When the injury is severe and the independent contractor does not have workers’ compensation coverage, often the independent contractor will try to collect workers’ compensation benefits from the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.

Employers Coverage Denys Claims From Independent Contractors

The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will normally deny the claim as the insurer has not collected any premium for the additional exposure of the independent contractor.  The independent contractor (and his/her attorney) will often turn to the Workers’ Compensation Board/Industrial Commission and ask the governing authority to rule on whether or not there is coverage for the independent contractor.

The Board or Commission will normally look closely for any reason where they can classify the independent contractor as an employee of the construction company employer.  If the employer has not complied with all the requirements of hiring the independent contractor as an independent contractor, the Board or Commission will find the injured worker to be an employee.

Construction Employers Need to Know Law

For the construction company employer to protect itself from workers’ compensation claims of independent contractors claiming workers’ compensation benefits, the employer should know the law pertaining to independent contractors in their state.  Many states follow the federal government guidelines outlined in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several times that there is not a single issue that makes a worker an independent contractor as opposed to an employee, but a preponderance of all the information surrounding the independent contractor-employer relationship.

Federal Fair Labor Standards Act 

Per FLSA, the following issues define whether or not the worker is an independent contractor or an employee:

1.    The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal’s business

Continue reading Construction Workers, Independent Contractors, Workers’ Comp & You

Top 10 Most Cited OSHA Standards

They’re making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s …..
OSHA Regulations Apply to All Private Sector Workers
OSHA regulations apply to all private sector workers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  The only people who are not subject to OSHA regulations are the self-employed and family members of farm employers who do not have any non-family employees. While most federal government employees are subject to OSHA requirements, employees of the Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard, and Mine Safety and Health Administration are exempt from OSHA requirements.
10 Most Frequently Cited Standards
Each year, in an effort to assist employers to identify the areas where they are most likely to be cited for violation of a safety standard, OSHA publishes a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards.  For the fiscal year 2012, which ended on 9-30-12, the 10 most cited standards were:

Top 10 OSHA Standards Violations

As shown above, while the ranking and the number of violations of each OSHA standard changed from 2011 to 2012, each of the top 10 cited violations of OSHA standards in 2012 were also ranked in the top 10 standard violations and citations in 2011.

Identify Your Possible Exposures
We provide this list of the most common violations of OSHA standards to assist you in the recognition of areas where your company could be cited.  We would recommend that you take the top 10 citation list and select all of the categories where your company could have an exposure.  Once you have identified the areas of possible exposures to an OSHA citation, review and study in depth the OSHA standard that applies.  The published OSHA Standards can be found at:
Even if you learn and understand all the OSHA standards listed in the top 10 most cited violations, and eliminate all exposures to OSHA citations from the top 10, you are still subject to an OSHA citation if you are in violation of any of their published standards, including the ambiguous General Duty Clause of the OSHA act.  The General Duty Clause states you will keep the workplace free of hazardous conditions not covered in the published OSHA standards.
Not only does OSHA set and enforce workplace safety and health standards, OSHA will provide assistance and training to employers when requested.  You can review the courses, materials and resources available to your company to prevent injuries (workers’ compensation claims) at:

Moderate Coffee Consumption May Reduce Diabetes Risk Up to 25 Percent

retro coffee for your health graphicYou can file this under, “Coffee experts agree that coffee is good for you.” But there is some interesting research involved.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2012) — Drinking three to four cups of coffee per day may help to prevent type 2 diabetes according to research highlighted in a session report published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), a not-for-profit organization devoted to the study and disclosure of science related to coffee and health.

Recent scientific evidence has consistently linked regular, moderate coffee consumption with a possible reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. An update of this research and key findings presented during a session at the 2012 World Congress on Prevention of Diabetes and Its Complications (WCPD) is summarized in the report.

The report outlines the epidemiological evidence linking coffee consumption to diabetes prevention, highlighting research that shows three to four cups of coffee per day is associated with an approximate 25 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming none or less than two cups per day1. Another study also found an inverse dose dependent response effect with each additional cup of coffee reducing the relative risk by 7-8 per cent.

While these epidemiological studies suggest an association between moderate coffee consumption and reduced risk of developing diabetes, they are unable to infer a causal effect. As such, clinical intervention trails are required to study the effect in a controlled setting. One prospective randomized controlled trial3, tested glucose and insulin after an oral glucose tolerance test with 12g decaffeinated coffee, 1g chlorogenic acid, 500 mg trigonelline, or placebo. This study demonstrated that chlorogenic acid, and trigonelline reduced early glucose and insulin responses, and contribute to the putative beneficial effect of coffee.

The report notes that the association between coffee consumption a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes could be seen as counter intuitive, as drinking coffee is often linked to unhealthier habits, such as smoking and low levels of physical activity. Furthermore, studies have illustrated that moderate coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of hypertension, stroke or coronary heart disease4 ,5, 6. Research with patients with CVD has also shown that moderate coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of heart failure, with a J-shaped relationship.

Finally, the report puts forward some of the key mechanistic theories that underlie the possible relationship between coffee consumption and the reduced risk of diabetes. These included the ‘Energy Expenditure Hypothesis’, which suggests that the caffeine in coffee stimulates metabolism and increases energy expenditure and the ‘Carbohydrate Metabolic Hypothesis’, whereby it is thought that coffee components play a key role by influencing the glucose balance within the body. There is also a subset of theories that suggest coffee contains components that may improve insulin sensitivity though mechanisms such as modulating inflammatory pathways, mediating the oxidative stress of cells, hormonal effects or by reducing iron stores.

Dr. Pilar Riobó Serván, Associate Chief of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Jiménez Díaz-Capio Hospital of Madrid and a speaker at the WCPD session concludes the report, commenting: “A dose-dependent inverse association between coffee drinking and total mortality has been demonstrated in general population and it persists among diabetics. Although more research on the effect of coffee in health is yet needed, current information suggests that coffee is not as bad as previously considered!”