“With every one of these fatalities, the lives of a worker’s family members were shattered and forever changed. We can’t forget that fact.” – Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor
Safety in the small business workplace is the focus of increasing attention from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), so the Global Human Resources Outsourcing (GHRO) team thought we’d review some of the key issues.
In the Department of Labor (DOL) 2012 regulatory agenda released in January 2012, OSHA listed action items on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2), confined spaces in construction, crystalline silica exposure limits, and walking work surfaces, among other issues.
According to its agenda, OSHA is planning to move forward with its proposed rule on I2P2 by conducting a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act Small Business Advocacy Review Panel.
The process was initiated on Jan. 6, 2012, when OSHA notified the Small Business Administration (SBA) of its intention to convene a panel in order to gather more information from small businesses on the impact of the proposed rule.
Although no proposal has been made available to stakeholders, it is believed that under the I2P2 rule, employers will be required to implement internal safety programs that “find and fix” workplace hazards on a rolling basis.
The focus will be on small businesses, including businesses with as few as 20 people. Inspector visits will deal not only with workplace safety matters, but also labor laws and reviewing whether the workers are contractors or employees.
What types of companies fall under OSHA and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations?
All companies with even one employee must conform to certain OSHA and DOL regulations. Once you have five or more employees, you must set up committees mandated by the law.
How can I tell which state and federal regulations apply to my company? And what happens if I’m out of compliance with some obscure regulation?
A professional organization like GHRO can conduct a compliance audit of your business to make sure you are meeting state and federal regulations. If you aren’t, we’ll help you comply. For example, we have procedures, forms and reports you can begin using immediately.
I have a troublesome employee. Under what circumstances can I dock his pay?
You can never dock an employee’s pay. There are fair, legal and successful alternatives to end the trouble.
A recently hired employee hurt herself at work and right now she can’t do the job she was hired for. Do I have to take her back?
Under most circumstances, you’re responsible for finding some tasks that can be accomplished by an injured employee during the recuperation period. You need to identify appropriate tasks. And you need to set up appropriate procedures before the next injury occurs.
What are the chances that the Department of Labor or OSHA will ever visit my company?
There are millions of small businesses in the U.S., but you can face fines even without a DOL or OSHA visit. For example, a common citation issued by the DOL is failure to file a Safety Summary Form. (If you haven’t filed yet, you should file immediately to show good faith.) Similarly, any claim by a disgruntled employee may involve OSHA and the DOL.
In addition to offering payroll services, and managing employee benefits and government compliance issues, GHRO offers recruitment services for businesses looking to outsource their human resources needs. Recently, we received a letter from one of our clients telling us how GHRO was able to help her out.
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If you’re looking to hire professional caliber employees, or you’re looking for the next step in your career, Global Human Resources Outsourcing may be able to help you on your way!
Safety and worker’s compensation laws in every state require all employers to provide cash benefits, medical care and rehabilitation services to any and all of their W-2 employees who experience work related injuries or disease.
Small businesses would benefit greatly by educating themselves about how safety and worker’s compensation actually work. They should know what the law requires in their particular state, what each business needs to do to assure coverage and how best to manage their compensation programs.
Some Facts about Safety and Worker’s Compensation Every Small Business Needs to Know:
Know the Safety and Worker’s Compensation Laws in Your State.
Although safety and worker’s compensation is required by all states, the laws vary from state to state. In many states, safety and worker’s compensation is encompassed by a larger statewide program while in others it is left up to the private insurance companies. It is important to know the specific laws that govern worker’s compensation in your state.
Know What Safety and Workers Compensation Covers.
When an employee is injured on the job “in the course and scope of employment,” even if it was the fault of the individual, he or she is qualified to receive compensation benefits. This means that even if an employee causes an accident, they will still receive workman’s compensation benefits if the incident took place at a jobsite or while executing any job function on company time.
Know if Your Business is Required to Have Safety and Worker’s Compensation Benefits.
In most states, employers with less than 5 employees are not required to have worker’s compensation benefits. However, even if a small business has under the minimum it is often times beneficial for both the employee as well as the employer to carry worker’s compensation insurance for added protection.
Know Each Individual Employee’s Classification.
Usually states only require full-time employees to be covered by workers compensation benefits. Part-time and contracted employees are considered to be exempt under the law.
Know How Safety and Worker’s Compensation Protects the Employer.
Worker’s compensation insurance not only protects employees from injuries sustained on the job, but it also serves to protect employers. Workman’s compensation insurance will shield employers from potential lawsuits resulting from employees being injured at work while also protecting them from the high cost of health care should any work related accidents require an employee to seek medical attention.
Some Facts about How Professional Employer Organizations (PEO’s) Can Help Small Businesses Manage Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Small businesses can take advantage of the reduced cost of safety and worker’s compensation that a Professional Employer Organization will provide because of the bulk rate insurance carriers often offer to PEO’s.
Many times a PEO will offer a small business a “pay as you go” worker’s compensation system that only calculates the exact amount of the premiums necessary for every pay period. This will help a company improve its cash flow and free up funds for other uses.
When a small business hires a PEO the safety and worker’s compensation is managed under their policy. This means that any claim by an employee will be filed under the PEO’s policy.
The PEO will manage all claims while also instilling best practices and risk management procedures to keep claims to a minimum. PEO’s will also perform safety inspections and train employees to take safety precautions to help prevent workplace injuries.
Small businesses that have more than 5 employees are required by law to carry safety and worker’s compensation. By utilizing the expertise of a PEO they can cut cost, raise efficiency and lower their risk by sharing the burden of providing employees with safety and worker’s compensation benefits.
The local volunteer firefighters of Parkersburg, West Virginia keep fighting fires and protecting their community despite the fact that their departments will be losing their liability insurance coverage.
Volunteer chiefs, captains and other fire officials are due to loose their “Deliberate Intent” insurance coverage, an extension of Safety and Worker’s Compensation, as of September 1 of this year. This means they will no longer have immunity from being sued and will be left vulnerable to law suits. Fire officials could be held personally liable for any fire fighter “deliberately” sent into harms way and is injured or killed as a result.
The Parkersburg volunteer fire department is not the only volunteer department slated to lose their liability coverage. According to State officials 129 departments will also be losing their coverage. By the end of this year every volunteer department in West Virginia will be working without this vital insurance.
Despite the fact that a few of these volunteer department are threatening to strike, most of the others are still planning to continue with the job of protecting their communities with or without the extended Safety and Worker’s Compensation coverage.
“The chiefs are going to have to meet to discuss this but our department is not on board with a strike,” said Kim Marshall of the Deerwalk Volunteer Fire Department. “We expect people to recognize there’s a problem, come up with a solution and keep moving. How do we say we are going to go on strike; how could you live with yourself? I’ve been doing this for 35 years. It’s just not in us not to respond. We are not a union. There have been firefighter’s unions going on strike but when you are a volunteer and it’s your neighbor are you going to sit in a recliner and not go? Of course not. We aren’t being paid. We could be sued personally. It doesn’t matter. You have to go. We can talk about strikes and not responding, but in reality the Legislature needs to put in an amendment and cure this problem and stop the silliness.”
Marshall’s frustration continued as he met with local insurance representative seeking some solutions but left without any success. He went on to say, “It’s the deliberate intent language that makes it. If you order two men at a scene to go into a structure to do an interior attack on a fire that is a deliberate act and fire officials and others will be personally liable to be sued as individuals if the firefighter is injured.”
Although these fire officials are deeply concerned about losing their insurance coverage and recognize that not having it could have serious consequences, they are still willing to put themselves on the line for their community’s safety.
Jay Parsons, Chief of the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire department summed it up best by adding, “We have too many residents and too many families. It is a bad situation. We hope the county commission does something at least; maybe provide coverage until the State gets it worked out. That would be a big help.”
If you’re concerned with employee retention, safety and controlling costs, then consider GHRO as your company’s strategic Safety Manager. We deliver a wide range of safety services including:
- On-site safety evaluations by certified safety pros
- Hazardous Communication Programs
- Safety handbooks
- Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
- Safety incentives
- Compliance reporting (OSHA logs)
- Back to work programs
- Safety training
- Assistance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to Workers Compensation
GHRO can provide strategic direction to bring your Workers Compensation costs down, and we’ll design workplace safety solutions to meet your unique goals and objectives.
And we’ll work with your employees and insurance companies to manage claims and to get your employees back to work! Keeping your business moving. That’s what GHRO is about.
by admin on Jan.21, 2010, under Abritration, candidates, disciplinary action, discipline in the workplace, Dispute Resolution, due process, employee discipline, Employee Free Choice Act, Employee Lawsuits, employee relations, employment, GHRO, Human Resources, National Labor Relations Board, progessive discipline policy, progressive discipline, Uncategorized, Workers Comp, workplace due process
Our notoriously litigious society has made it a continuous challenge for employers to defend themselves from “sue-happy” employees. It has become far too easy for employees to sue their employers and as a result many employers are increasingly apprehensive about taking the necessary steps to address disciplinary actions.
HR managers are typically the “progressive discipline gurus” of a company, but let’s not overlook one major detail. Line managers need to be just as proficient in progressive discipline procedures since they are the key discipline agents. In essence, line managers should be viewed as an extension of HR management when dealing with disciplinary actions. There are a few fundamental elements of workplace due process that can improve the employer confidence in taking the appropriate disciplinary actions when needed.
First, in an appropriate, safe atmosphere the employee needs to be informed of what the problem is and what efforts can be taken to rectify the situation. Second, the employee needs to be given the opportunity to fix the problem within a reasonable time line. Lastly, the employee needs to be aware of the consequences if he or she does not show noticeable improvement. These disciplinary actions appear to be reasonable and logical, however, this is far easier said than done, which is why we have progressive discipline procedures.
The strategies of progressive discipline, shifts the sole responsibility for improvement away from the company and toward its employees (where it rightfully belongs). The way to do this is by meeting the employee half way to show equitable accountability for improvement.
How can employers meet employees half way? Well, for starters, there must be a progressive discipline policy in place that provides a clear systematic uniform approach to informing an employee of his or her unsatisfactory performance and/or conduct.
Progressive discipline counters the notion of at-will employment. The concept that employees may quit their jobs at anytime and employers may fire employees at anytime for any reason is a mere delusion of at-will employment even during the so-called “probationary” period. In my humble opinion, having a probationary period is a moot point since employers must still show cause for the termination if they are being sued during that time period.
Well-documented written warnings showing the employer’s intent of meeting the employee half way is the responsible way an employer can demonstrate their use of greater due process. Integrating a progressive discipline system will improve the confidence and skills of line managers to properly address situations that require disciplinary actions.
by admin on Aug.12, 2009, under Employee Free Choice Act, Employee Lawsuits, employee relations, employment, GHRO, HR, Human Resources, National Labor Relations Board, Obama Administration, Unions, Workers Comp
In keeping with the fighting spirit which seems to dominate Washington D.C. these days I would like to provide you with the latest on what I would call the Federal Government’s 1 – 2 punch. Whether these punches will be jabs, hooks, or knock outs will all depend upon the final bills signed by the President this fall. It will of course also vary depending upon your business, however, one thing is certain, they will cost you more.
The three areas I would like to discuss are Nationalized Healthcare, the Employee Free Choice Act and Worker’s Compensation rates and changes. To read the rest of this article please click here gov-1-2-punch
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Constant hiring, turnover over 20% per year, ridiculous Worker’s Compensation Rates, over the top legal expenses and expensive overtime. If so, I thought you might be interested in how GHRO solved these problems for one of our clients.
To read the rest of this article in its entirety please click here the-talent-acquisition-story