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More than half of the commercial vehicle drivers who responded to United Safety Alliance, Inc.'s online survey admitted to deliberately violating federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Those regulations aim to keep highways safe by limiting driving time so commercial vehicle drivers get enough rest.

Currently, HOS compliance is monitored through paper logs and supporting documentation such as toll receipts. However, paper logs allow for falsification. For that reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is looking to shift to an automated means of monitoring compliance.

On January 31, 2011, the FMCSA published its electronic onboard record (EOBR) rule that will require certain motor carriers to install EOBRs to track drivers' HOS.

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Among the key budgetary issues legislatures will have to address this year, workers' compensation is one that can have lasting implications on employers, employees and insurance providers alike. Preston Diamond, Director of the Institute for WorkComp Professionals, identified a number of issues that are certain to affect these groups in 2011 and in years to come. This article will highlight a few of these issues and identify what employees may do to protect themselves.

Integration of Health and Wellness Programs

Healthy workers are less likely to be injured and they tend to return to work sooner. While this may be the prevailing norm, many employers have not made the connection between workplace safety and employee wellness. Mr. Diamond notes that the combination of new research, court rulings, and tighter budgets have led to more executives considering how health and wellness programs can benefit workers. Essentially, workers can benefit from participating in employer-sponsored wellness programs that could lower their health insurance premiums.

Injured Workers Staying Out Longer

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, (NCCI) temporary total disability payments are increasing because injured workers are returning to work at a slower pace. The past recession has created fewer transitional opportunities for injured workers, especially when employers are laying off other employees for economic reasons.

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Elder abuse has become a growing problem nationwide. The government estimates that between one and two million Americans over age 65 have been injured or mistreated by caregivers.

According to the Illinois Department of Aging, it is estimated that more than 76,000 Illinois residents over the age of 60 are elder abuse victims each year. This November the state closed the Orchard Court Nursing Home for failing to comply with safety regulations. The state may potentially revoke the licenses of six other long-term care facilities.

The true scope of nursing home abuse is difficult to grasp because of underreporting. Elderly victims often do not communicate the suffering they experience. For some older individuals this is a result of diminished capacity or intimidation from the caregiver responsible. Others are ashamed about what happened and embarrassed to discuss it with family. It is important that family members remain actively involved in a loved one's care so they can be alert for signs of neglect or abuse.

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