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emPower eLearning: October 2011

emPower eLearning

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death of City Worker Highlights Need for Protections for Public Workers

A traffic device designed to make roads safer for drivers proved to be the death of a Quincy, Mass., worker.

On Oct. 18, 58-year-old Bobby DeCristofaro was repairing a traffic light for the city of Quincy when he fell to his death after his bucket truck was struck by a tractor-trailer truck. DeCristofaro had worked for the city for 25 years.

Unlike private employers, public employers are not covered under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Massachusetts remains one of only five states whose public employees are not covered by the act. This has resulted in inconsistent implementation of safety programs, putting thousands of workers at risk, said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH).

"Our hearts go out to the families and co-workers of DeCristofaro," said Goldstein-Gelb. "While it is too early to determine all of the factors that contributed to this death, it shines a glaring spotlight on the hazards facing municipal workers and the need for consistent and effective health and safety measures."

Many municipalities are not aware that under Massachusetts law, the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) is charged with inspecting public sector workplaces and determining the measures needed to ensure worker safety. According to DLS, "In the absence of specific standards, it is the policy of our office that public sector employees follow the OSHA Standards as a minimum. Compliance with the OSHA Standards will in most cases ensure compliance with the intent of Chapter 149 section 6."

While authorities are still investigating the details that contributed to this fatality, similar incidents have occurred previously in Massachussets. In fact, DLS recently issued an alert to draw attention to the injuries and deaths caused by aerial lift and bucket truck accidents.

In 2009, an employee of a Public Facilities Department in a city in southeastern Massachusetts was seriously injured when the aerial lift truck he was working in was struck by a tractor trailer. In that incident, the DLS investigation found several failed safety measures which contributed to the accident, including inadequate barricades, failure to provide police detail and lack of sufficient restraint or fall protection system.

"I have met many other families of workplace fatality victims and while the details of each incident are different, they all have one thing in common: These tragedies can and must be prevented," said Melissa King, a MassCOSH board member whose father was electrocuted at his job in 2005.

This article was originally posted at http://ehstoday.com/standards/osha/worker_death_need_protections_1020/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Real Learning Curve

By ANNIE MURPHY PAUL | @anniemurphypaul

Learning is simple, right? It’s the process of moving information from out there — from a textbook, a company report, a musical score — to in here, inside our heads, and making that knowledge our own. Parents, teachers, and other experts are full of sensible-sounding advice about how to learn well: select a particular place to study and use it consistently; concentrate on one subject at a time; focus intensively on the material just before a test or an important meeting.

But it turns out that learning is not so simple and obvious — all of the above instructions, for example, are flat-out wrong. Our own experience with learning — or our kids’ or our employees’ — shows us that learning can be a tricky thing: we read and we memorize and we practice, and still the information doesn’t always stick. Under the pressure of an exam or an audience, our hard-won knowledge does a disappearing act. Even social scientists have been confounded by learning. For more than a century, psychologists have constructed elaborate theories of how people learn that are intricate, elegant—and mostly useless.

And then, about ten years ago, researchers started to do something radically different. Using the tools of neuroscience and cognitive psychology, they began paying attention to how the brain actually learns. This new field has witnessed explosive growth over the past decade, generating academic programs, professional journals, research conferences and reports of scientific findings by the thousands. What they have discovered was a surprise: the brain has its own set of rules by which it learns best — and they look nothing like what we imagined. From these rules, some remarkable conclusions follow:

• How we learn shapes what we know and what we can do. Our knowledge and our abilities are largely determined not by our IQ or some other fixed measure of intelligence, but by the effectiveness of our learning process: call it our learning quotient.

• Everyone can learn more effectively. Successful learning doesn’t require fancy schools, elaborate training sessions, or expensive technology. It just takes an understanding of how the brain really works.

• We need a learning revolution: in the schools, at home, and in the workplace. Although the science of learning has made enormous advances over the past decade, its discoveries have remained restricted to academic journals and conferences. It’s time to liberate this knowledge for the good of learners everywhere.

Each week in TIME Ideas, I’ll be examining the latest research and the most penetrating insights into how learning works. I hope you’ll join me — together, we have a lot to learn.

Paul, the author of Origins is at work on a book about the science of learning

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Using Game Mechanics to Enhance eLearning

eLearning has revolutionized the study arena in many ways. Presently, almost all recognized global universities have eLearning programs for various disciplines. Experts are trying to find out new ways through which students can learn faster and gain better knowledge of subjects so as to impart better learning on the electronic medias. LMS or Learning Management Systems are considering many new dynamics in this field. Gamification or game mechanics is one such technique that is being experimented and used for imparting better e-learning in many subjects. The concept uses the mechanics of gaming in non-gaming applications and studies.

However, using game mechanics doesn’t refer to the inclusion of games in the electronic learning process. In fact, the mechanics has almost nothing to do with the applications of narrative and themes used. It rather encourages and urges the users to learn and explore properties with the help of different feedback mechanisms. Games are appealing because they engage the viewers and player in a particularly entertaining way. The use of the similar mechanics in LMS of eLearning can ease out things for learners and can help extensively in improving the learning process by increasing the interest.

The process of using game mechanics in LMS for eLearning is best done by gaming experts. These bunches of tech freaks know the ways to engage viewers. Learning or studying appears to be boring for many students who take it as a burden or duty. But when the entire system of eLearning will be converted into an engaging activity, the concepts of students and teachers will change in many aspects. The purpose of learning is to compel the brain to understand the concepts of e-books, and further translate the same into action and reactions. This is the prime reason why materials and books need to be fascinating to engage students.

While using gaming mechanics in eLearning, gaming engineers focus on creating goals and objectives. All games have certain objectives, which is the prime drive behind playing it. The same concept is used for creating goals in eLearning. These objectives, however, cannot be long-term as students will lose interest in achieving them. This is where the concept of ‘layers’ of objectives has been thought if. Giving many segments of goals will encourage learners to pursue them in a more concentrated way.

As discussed earlier, it is essential that regular feedback is taken from the learners regarding the use of game mechanics in the LMS structure in eLearning. The aim is to encourage and motivate learners to take an interest in all the activities, and; therefore, regular assessment is essential to measure the success and progress of the technique. If concepts used can hook the learner for several hours, then the engineer has undoubtedly succeeded in making the right use of gaming mechanics in eLearning.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Washington Study Finds Workplace Inspections Improve Safety, Save Money

A decade’s worth of inspection data in Washington suggests that a visit from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) can be good not just for workplace safety, but also for a company’s bottom line.

Researchers with the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program, L&I's research unit, examined L&I inspection data and workers' compensation claims from 1998 through 2008. The study found significant reductions in claims and claim costs following a safety inspection or safety consultation.

The greatest impact came when an inspection resulted in at least one citation. In those cases, the research found a reduction in worker injury claims of as much as 20 percent over similar work sites that were not inspected.

"Safety is not always at the forefront of an employer's mind. But when a significant event takes place, like a serious injury or an L&I inspection, it can really get their attention," said SHARP Director Barbara Silverstein. "This can lead to a greater recognition of what can be done in the workplace to reduce hazards, itself leading to safer workplaces and fewer injuries."

Silverstein and Michael Foley, senior economics research manager for SHARP, presented their findings at a quarterly meeting of OSHSPA, the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, an organization of 27 states and territories that have their own agencies enforcing workplace safety rules, like L&I.

An executive summary of "The Impact of DOSH Enforcement and Consultation Visits on Workers' Compensation Claims Rates and Costs, 1999 – 2008" is on L&I's web site and copies of the full report are available by contacting SHARP at 888-667-4277.

This article was originally posted at http://ehstoday.com/standards/osha/workplace_inspections_improve_safety_1010/

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HIPAA Activity on the Rise

There are plenty of reasons to put HIPAA back on your radar, including an audit program and record-setting fines for violations.

HIPAA Audit Program
The HIPAA audit program mandated by the HITECH Act is underway. HHS recently awarded KPMG $9.2 million to commence the program. To date, HHS review of covered entities has been complaint driven. Audit protocols will be developed for covered entities and business associates. The audits will begin late this year or early 2012, and consist of as many as 150 on-site audits of entities varying in type, size, and location. These audits can result in enforcement action if violations are discovered.

To get prepared for a HIPAA audit, providers should perform an updated risk assessment and review their policies and procedures. HHS issued an audit checklist that identifies personnel who may be interviewed and documents that may be requested during an audit.

Accounting of Disclosures and Access Report
The long-anticipated rules regarding accounting of disclosures were proposed this May. There are two major changes covered entities and business associates will need to address: 1) accounting for treatment, payment, and health care operations disclosures, and 2) providing an access report.

Accounting for Disclosures
While the proposed rules broaden the accounting requirement to treatment, payment, and health care operations, HHS proposes to limit the accounting to information maintained in a designated record set for three years prior to the date of the request. There are also proposed exemptions, including, disclosures in which 
breach notice was provided; abuse or neglect reports; patient safety work product, and disclosures for research, health oversight activities, decedents, and others required by law. Keep 
in mind these exemptions may still 
be subject to the Access Report. 
Other proposed changes include decreasing response time to 30 days 
and specifically including business associates.

Access Report
This rule proposes that an individual may request a report describing who has accessed their PHI maintained in an electronic designated record set, including the date and time of access, the person or entity accessing the information, a description of the information, and what was done with the information.

Covered Entities must revise their Notice of Privacy Practices to notify individuals of their right to an accounting and an access report.

Monetary Penalties
For the first time this year, there were three major monetary penalties issued for HIPAA violations. These include a $4.3 million penalty involving failure to provide access, a $1 million penalty involving loss of PHI, and most recently an $865,500 penalty involving unauthorized employee access to electronic PHI. Another reason to update your HIPAA program!

Joy Kosiewicz is an attorney in the Health Care Group at Brouse McDowell in Akron.

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