Archive for October, 2009

Data Security Protection Bills Approved

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The House Energy and Commerce Committee easily approved two bills Wednesday designed to require companies that store private information to better protect it against security breaches, and to warn consumers about potential dangers of downloading the peer-to-peer software that has been implicated in such unauthorized breaches.
Both bills passed on voice votes.

“We are all too familiar with the danger of inadvertent sharing of sensitive information through the use, or misuse, of certain file sharing programs,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman. “Tax returns, medical files, and even classified government documents have been found on these networks.”

The data security bill requires entities that hold personal information adopt appropriate security measures and, if a breach occurs, they must notify consumers. The FTC would be empowered to enforce the law, with penalties up to $5 million for violations. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who originally sponsored the bill, said it had been improved through the subcommittee process by, among other things, including a 60-day consumer notification requirement following discovery of a private data breach. The peer-to-peer bill requires installers of such software to notify computer users that the software is about to be installed. It allows the consumer to opt out of installation or to remove the software, if it has already been installed. The FTC also is empowered to enforce the legislation and to promulgate rules and fines to enforce it.
Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., said companies that produce file sharing software have been given ample time to fix the problems but have not done so. “It is clear the day of self-regulation is past,” she said.

New National Survey Reveals Significant Decline in the Misuse of Prescription Drugs

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

The misuse of prescription drugs decreased significantly between 2007 and 2008 among those aged 12 and older, including among adolescents, according to 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). However, the national survey showed that the overall level of current illicit drug use has remained level at about 8 percent.

The annual NSDUH report which was issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the start of the 20th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month) also indicated that progress has been made in curbing other types of the illicit drug use. For example, past month methamphetamine use among those aged 12 and older dropped sharply from approximately 529,000 people in 2007 to 314,000 in 2008. Similarly, the level of current cocaine use among the population aged 12 and older has decreased from 1.0 percent in 2006 to 0.7 percent in 2008.

Promising results from the latest survey also were also found for the most part among youth (12 to 17 year olds). Among youth there was a significant decline in overall past month illicit drug use, from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.3 percent in 2008. Although the rate of current marijuana use among youth has remained level at about 6.7 percent over the past few years there have been significant decreases in the current use of alcohol, cigarettes and non-medical use of prescription drugs since 2007. Non-medical use of prescription drugs dropped from 3.3 percent in 2007 to 2.9 percent in 2008.

Historically, young adults have had the highest rates of substance abuse, and for most types of illicit substance abuse the levels have remained steady over the past year. However, over the past three years there has been a steady drop in the rate of heavy alcohol use by full time college students aged 18 to 22

How to Stay Positive in Tough Times

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Look around

Engaging Change: Six Tips for Surviving and Thriving

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
The only thing that stays the same in business is change

U.S. Government Launches Swine Flu Vaccine Campaign

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu vaccinations mark the beginning of a nationwide campaign to inoculate at least half the U.S. population — and perhaps the entire country — against the new H1N1 virus that has caused the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. The federal government has spent $2 billion to purchase about 250 million doses of vaccine and has pledged to buy enough to immunize every American if there is enough demand.

Public opinion surveys, however, indicate that Americans are undecided about the vaccine. A nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 adults released Friday by the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, found that only 40 percent were sure they would get the vaccine and only about half were sure they would get it for their children. Most people who get the virus suffer mild illness. But because most people have no immunity against the virus, many more people than usual are expected to become infected, sick or hospitalized or possibly die than during a typical flu season. Children, young adults and pregnant women are especially at risk. Being given top priority for the vaccine are those caring for babies younger than 6 months, health-care workers, pregnant women, adults with health problems such as obesity, asthma and diabetes and everyone 6 months to 24 years old. States began ordering vaccine last week, and about 7 million doses are expected to be available by the end of this week. About 40 million doses of nasal spray and injectable vaccine will be available by the middle of the month, with another 10 million to 20 million to become available every week after that.

Top 10 Common Workplace Injuries and Ways to Prevent Them

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

An article on the web site of the Health Diet Institute gives the top ten categories for workplace accidents. Written by Joanne Aika Castillo, the article opens by stating:

“Workplace injuries happen all the time. The most susceptible employees who experience workplace injuries are those working in more dangerous areas such as construction sites and factories. However the most common types of injuries which have greatly affected both employees and employers are those that we don’t necessarily think as dangerous but are nevertheless detrimental to the health and safety of workers.”

You can read the top ten list here.

To Avoid Liability, Create a No-Driving-While-Texting Policy

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

“Cell phone usage and texting have grown to become a leading factor in automobile accidents. As of this writing, only nine states have legislated against driving while texting. That means that 41 states have no laws restricting DWT. And that can mean trouble for any business owner.”

You may have heard about the mass transit accidents that have happened as a result of drivers texting while driving. Those are the high-profile accidents that make the news. To protect your business the Business Week article (read here) recommends that all business have a written policy against texting while driving.

Minnesota HR Conference

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Minnesota HR Conference Oct 12 & 13 in Rochester, MN. Robin Turner will be presenting on Oct 12th at 10:30 am topic: Drug & Alcohol Awareness in the Workplace… please join us!

What does it mean to be a drug-free workplace?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

A drug-free workplace is a workplace free of the health, safety and productivity hazards caused by employees

New Website Offers Tools to Assess and Address Drinking Risks

Monday, October 5th, 2009

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has created a new website called “Rethinking Drinking,” designed to help users define their drinking patterns and develop strategies and options for dealing with alcohol-related problems, the Wall Street Journal reported March 10. “Most people don’t know what ‘drink responsibly’ means — they think it means not getting tanked,” says Mark Willenbring, director of treatment and recovery research at NIAAA. The new website is part of a broader effort to increase understanding of the array of alcohol-related disorders and redefine the way terms like “abuse” and “dependence” are used. The website utilizes an interactive form that allows users to enter daily and weekly drinking amounts to determine how their consumption compares with national averages. The site has a drink-size chart and a content calculator to aid in determining what comprises a “standard” drink. The NIAAA considers the consumption of no more than four standard-size alcoholic drinks a day for a man or no more than three for a woman as placing individuals at low risk for serious alcohol problems. The weekly “low-risk” limit is no more than 14 drinks for a man or seven for a woman. More daily or weekly consumption creates a higher risk of abuse or dependence. Very few Americans exceed the weekly limits without exceeding the daily limitations, Willenbring said. “Rethinking Drinking” presents options and strategies to the user — from “space and pace” (no more than one drink per hour) strategies to “avoiding triggers” (understanding the external situations that may provoke drinking). The site uses an “urge tracker” to monitor events surrounding the urge to drink, along with a section on “refusal skills” for coping with social situations.