The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was established in 1970 to encourage employees and employers to decrease workplace hazards. OSHA recommends that both parties cooperatively establish workplace-specific safety standards. The agency also establishes training programs for occupational safety and health personnel. Finally, OSHA oversees research to find new approaches to workplace safety and health issues, according to Princeton University Environmental Health and Safety Department.

Workplace Standards

OSHA sets safety and health standards for many work environments, and ensures that employers comply with those standards. Some standards are written for specific industries, as illustrated by hazardous waste workers’ personal protective equipment. Where no regulations exist for a given industry or workplace, OSHA mandates that the employer has a duty to provide a workplace without known hazards that could cause serious physical injury or death, states Environment, Health and Safety Online.

Universal OSHA Standards

Some OSHA standards apply to all industries. Employees and OSHA personnel must have access to medical and toxic substances exposure records. Employers must provide workers with equipment that protects against industry-specific workplace hazards, and must show employees how to use it. Manufacturers and importers of hazardous materials must provide a Material Safety Data Sheet to customers. Employers must train employees to deal with product hazards, notes the United States Department of Labor.

Recordkeeping

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 applies recordkeeping standards to most employers with more than 10 employees during the former calendar year. These employers must keep records on employee illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Other employers may be required to keep the records if requested to do so by OSHA, state health and safety offices, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All incidents with fatalities or hospitalization of three or more staff must be reported. OSHA analyzes these records to identify workplace hazards and improve its programs, states OSHA Academy.

Standards Enforcement

OSHA issues directives that tell employers how to comply with OSHA standards. These directives detail the roles of Compliance Safety and Health Officers, or CSHO’s, who are tasked with OSHA standards enforcement. These trained safety and health professionals enforce standards for general industry, maritime professions, and health-related construction issues. CSHOs interface with the Whistleblower Protection Program. This program prohibits retaliation against employees who contact OSHA about workplace hazards.

Training Programs

The OSHA Directorate of Training and Education facilitates safety and health training courses for compliance officers, federal agency staff and state consultants. In addition, OSHA’s Outreach Training Program offers qualified workers an opportunity to become workplace OSHA trainers. Outreach Training Programs are targeted to general industry, construction trades, maritime professions and disaster site operations.

By Felicia Greene
Originally Published By Lifestrong.com

OSHA Injury Tracking Application Electronic Portal

As of August 1, 2017, the Occupational and Safety Health Administration’s (OSHA) new electronic portal, the Injury Tracking Application (ITA), is available for employers to file web-based reports of workplace injuries or illnesses.

Under OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule, covered employers with at least 250 employees must submit the following forms electronically:

  • Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300).
  • Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A).
  • Injury and Illness Report (Form 301).

Access the ITA and read about electronic submission

2017 VETS-4212 Reporting Opened

The 2017 filing season for the VETS-4212 started on August 1, 2017 and ends on September 30, 2017. The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) requires federal contractors and subcontractors subject to the act’s affirmative action provisions who enter into or modify a contract or subcontract with the federal government, and whose contract meets the criteria set forth in the law, to annually report on their affirmative action efforts in employing veterans.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service has a legislative requirement to collect, and make available to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, reported data contained on the VETS-4212 report for compliance enforcement.

File the 2017 VETS-4212 Report

OSHA Revises Online Whistleblower Complaint Form

On July 28, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its online whistleblower complaint form to help users file a complaint with the appropriate agency. OSHA administers more than twenty whistleblower protection laws, including Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Act. Each law has a filing deadline, varying from 30 days to 180 days, that starts when the retaliatory action occurs.

The updated form guides users through the complaint process, providing essential questions at the start to assist users in understanding and exercising their rights under relevant laws. The new system also includes pop-up boxes with information about various agencies for individuals who indicate that they have engaged in protected activity that may be addressed by an agency other than OSHA.

In addition to the online form, workers may file complaints by fax, mail, or hand-delivery; contacting the agency at 800-321-6742; or calling an OSHA regional or area office.

View the new online form in English or Spanish

Prevailing Health and Welfare Fringe Benefits Rate Announced Under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act

On July 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released an all agency memorandum (number 225) announcing that under the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) the employee-by-employee benefit will be $4.41 per hour, or $176.40 per week, or $760.40 per month. Additionally, the average cost fringe benefit rate will also be $4.41 per hour.

The McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality, or the rates (including prospective increases) contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement. The DOL issues wage determinations on a contract-by-contract basis in response to specific requests from contracting agencies. These determinations are incorporated into the contract.

The new rate became effective August 1, 2017.

Originally Published By Thinkhr.com

By Samantha Yurman
www.thinkhr.com

OSHA Penalties Increasing by 78 Percent After August 1, 2016

MoneyBagSection 701 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 contains the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015, which requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and most other federal agencies to implement inflation-adjusted civil penalty increases. The Inflation Adjustment Act also allows OSHA a one time “catch-up adjustment” to adjust for inflation since 1990 (the last time penalties were adjusted) along with annual adjustments for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

OSHA was required to publish the new penalty levels through an interim final rule in the Federal Register by July 1, 2016. Subsequently, OSHA adjusted the penalty levels which will take effect after August 1, 2016, as follows:

 LEVEL  CURRENT MAXIMUM PENALTY NEW MAXIMUM PENALTY
 Serious, Other Than Serious Posting Requirements  $7,000 per violation  $12,471 per violation
 Failure to Abate  $7,000 per day beyond abatement  $12,471 per day beyond abatement
 Willful/Repeat  $70,000 per violation  $124,709 per violation

Any citations issued by OSHA after August 1, 2016 will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

States that operate their own occupational safety and health plans will also be required to raise their maximum penalty amounts to align with the federal OSHA levels.

To help avoid exposure to the new penalties, employers should perform internal audits to ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

Read more here …

By Nancy Bourque
HR Practice Leader at United Benefit Advisors

WorkplaceSafetyThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued sweeping changes to record-keeping and reporting rules. Starting in 2017, employers with as few as 20 employees may be required to electronically report workplace injuries and illnesses on an annual basis, and the information from those reports will be searchable, by employer name, by any member of the public.

Are you a covered employer?

Determine if you are a business with 20 or more employees that is considered “high risk”:

  • The list includes most retailers, care facilities, transportation services, home delivery services, museums and historical sites, and specialty food services.
  • The complete list can be found on the OSHA website

If you are not “high risk,” determine if you have at least 250 employees:

  • Headcount for OSHA means “the number of paid workers, including full time, part time and seasonal, assigned at any time during the last calendar year.”
  • Contract workers, if supervised by the host company, are included when recording injuries and illnesses.
  • Headcount is calculated by site, not as a company total

If you are a covered employer, request UBA’s Compliance Advisor, “OSHA Reporting Changes: Employer Checklist” for a step-by-step guide to reviewing your employee communications, policies, handbooks and incentive programs for compliance. From OSHA posters, to drug and discipline policies, to incentive programs that may deter accident reporting, make sure you are ready for the changes.

Read more here …

By Nancy Bourque
HR Practice Leader at United Benefit Advisors

WorkplaceSafetyBeginning in 2017, certain employers with as few as 20 employees at a single site will be required to electronically file information about employee injuries and accidents that occurred in the prior year. This means that, for many employers, injuries and illnesses occurring in 2016 will be subject to this change.

Employers of as few as one employee have always been required, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), to report work-related in-patient hospitalizations and deaths. And, employers with at least 10 employees at a single site have been required to maintain and annually post a Form 300A log within their facility. These new regulations will place increased demands on hundreds of thousands of employers, but of greater concern is that OSHA intends to make public the information it collects.

OSHA’s agenda is, quite simply, employer shaming. The quote from the OSHA website states:

OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public.

Why should this be a concern? One reason is that employers are required to report incidents that are outside of their control, including car accidents and heart attacks. These occurrences can negatively impact an employer’s image to applicants and customers. Further, such incidents are reportable even if they are later found to be not attributable to the employer. A second issue is that labor unions can mine data and use the information in organization efforts. Similarly, competitors will have visibility into rival businesses. Finally, Form 300A reporting includes multiple identifiers that may present challenges with HIPAA, especially in less populated areas.

View UBA’s Compliance Advisor, “OSHA’s Final Rule on Electronic Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” for seven current practices that are affected as well as key dates related to this rule.

Read more here …

www.thinkhr.com

peopleOn September 11, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule which updates the reporting and record-keeping requirements for injuries and illnesses, found at 29 C.F.R. 1904. The rule goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

Changes to record-keeping requirements

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation, certain covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. However, there are two classes of employers that are partially exempt from routinely keeping injury and illness records:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year; and
  • Establishments in certain low-hazard industries.

The new rule maintains the exemption for employers with fewer than 10 employees. However, the new rule has an updated list of industries that will be partially exempt from keeping OSHA records. The previous list of partially exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 1996, 1997, and 1998. The new list of partially exempt industries in the updated rule is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2007, 2008, and 2009. As a result, many employers who were once exempted from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements are now required to keep records. A list of newly covered industries can be found at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/reporting_industries.html.

Changes to the reporting requirements

In addition to revising the record-keeping requirements, the new rule expands the list of severe injuries and illnesses that employers must report to OSHA. Under the previous rule, employers were required to report the following events to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities.
  • All work-related hospitalizations of three or more employees.

Under the new rule, employers must report the following events to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities.
  • All work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees.
  • All work-related amputations.
  • All work-related losses of an eye.

For any fatality that occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident, employers must report the event within eight hours of finding out about it.

For any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss that occurs within 24 hours of a work-related incident, employers must report the event within 24 hours of learning about it.

Employers do not have to report an event if the event:

  • Resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway, except in a construction work zone; employers must report the event if it happened in a construction work zone.
  • Occurred on a commercial or public transportation system (airplane, subway, bus, ferry, street car, light rail, train).
  • Occurred more than 30 days after the work-related incident in the case of a fatality or more than 24 hours after the work-related incident in the case of an in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

Employers do not have to report an in-patient hospitalization if it was for diagnostic testing or observation only. An in-patient hospitalization is a formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment.

Employers do have to report an in-patient hospitalization due to a heart attack, if the heart attack resulted from a work-related incident.

What to report

Employers reporting a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye to OSHA must report all of the following information:

  • The name of the establishment.
  • The location of the work-related incident.
  • The time of the work-related incident.
  • The type of reportable event (i.e., fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye).
  • The number of employees who suffered the event.
  • The names of the employees who suffered the event.
  • The contact person and his or her phone number.
  • A brief description of the work-related incident.

How to report

Employers can use the following three options to report an event:

  • Call the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours.
  • Call the 24-hour OSHA hotline (800-321-OSHA or 800-321-6742).
  • Report an incident electronically (OSHA is developing a new means of reporting events electronically, which will be released soon and will be accessible on OSHA’s website).

Conclusion

It is recommended that employers familiarize themselves with the final rule and train personnel accordingly. All employers under OSHA jurisdiction, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with the new severe injury and illness reporting requirements.

Read More …

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