Archive | April, 2013

Fire Safety – Let’s All Learn from West, Texas

21 Apr

fire
The tragic fire and explosion of the fertilizer plant recently in the town of West, Texas should remind all of us of the importance of fire prevention and planning for fire safety. Such fire safety plans are also a requirement of OSHA.
Even if it were nor a compliance issue, it is a real, human issue. A fire department in America responds to a fire, somewhere, every 16 seconds!. Approximately 10,000 employees are injured every year on the job in work related fires. (Not to mention the approximately $4 billion a year in property losses to business from fire).
What does OSHA require:
1. A written plan
2. Identification for your business of the sources of fire hazard including storage of potential ignition sources
3. Some type of alarm system
4. Names and titles of persons responsible for maintaining equipment and systems to prevent and control fire
5. Names and titles of persons responsible for controlling flammable or combustible waste materials
6. Housekeeping procedures to control waste materials
7 Training of employees about fire hazards and what to do in case of emergencies
8. Maintenance plan for equipment and system.
Your own business may need fire extinguishers or other specific control systems, depending on location, facility design, etc.
If you need any help in preparing or updating your fire safety plan, contact your local fire department or email :DonDressler1@hotmail.com

If you need help in preparing

Correction: New Effective Date for Form I-9

17 Apr

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the revised Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, and published a notice in the Federal Register.

In the initial announcement, USCIS described when employers can no longer use prior versions of Form I-9. USCIS incorrectly described the effective date as being after May 7, 2013.

USCIS published a correction notice in the Federal Register. This notice corrects the error and clarifies that beginning May 7, 2013, employers may no longer use prior versions of the Form I-9.
The new form bears a revision date of 03/08/13.
According to USCIS, “although employers should begin using the 03/08/13 dated form right away, older forms dated 02/02/09 and 08/07/09 will be accepted until May 7, 2013. Beginning May 7, 2013, only the 03/08/13 will be accepted. The revision date is on the lower left corner of the form.”

Even One Injury Can Raise Your Ex Mod

14 Apr

It is becoming increasingly clear in 2013 that recent changes in the California workers’ compensation experience modification process are severely hurting small employers, who have even 1 work injury reported. A single claim can push an employer’s experience mod up by 15 to 25 %, or more. Now that the first $7,000 of each claim are used in the “primary” loss portion of the experience modification, up from just $2,000 in past years, a single work injury can increase future workers’ compensation premiums by 3 to 4 times the dollar cost of the claim, according to UC Berkeley researcher Frank Neuhasuer and others.
And experience mods being reported in 2013 are showing this impact. The increases are so high that the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has met recently to consider limiting the impact of one claim. The problem, however, is that many times, what appears to be multiple claims really is just an attorney for an injured worker taking advantage of filing two different claims, one for a “specific’ injury such as an injured shoulder, and a second claim for “cumulative trauma” over the work life of the employee. In truth, these are not two claims, but the lawyer’s effort to magnify injuries to obtain more money for himself and the worker.
Employers, in self-defense, need to consider “post offer pre employment physical exams”, immediate and through accident investigations, and full cooperation with their workers’ compensation claims personnel.

Update on Meal Period and Rest Break Rules in California

8 Apr

You may have thought that the 2012 California Supreme Court decision about meal periods and rest breaks settled all the legal problems for employers – wishful thinking.

A recent Federal court case involving these issues continues to demonstrate that good time records are important, even for employer who has the correct policies. In this case, DeLeon v. Time Warner, time records showing missed or late meal periods. But the records, standing alone, are not determinative of whether a meal period violation has occurred. As long as meal periods are properly scheduled and employees are relieved of duty (i.e., not pressured to stay on duty) during the scheduled meal periods, if an employee chooses to delay or perform work during the scheduled meal period, no violation has occurred, even though employees must be paid for all hours they are “suffered or permitted” to work during such meal periods.

In California, employees need only be authorized and permitted to take their rest periods. If an employee prefers to continue working – the employer has not pressured the employee – there is no violation.

The question for you should be – #1- what do your policies say? And #2- what do your time records indicate? (Do your hourly or “non-exempt” employees record their meal periods on their time records as non-working time?)
(Thanks to Fisher & Phillips Wage and Hour Update for this information).

How to Save Money from the 2013 California Workers’ Compensation Reform

2 Apr

The California Legislature passed SB 863 in September of last year, with most of the provisions taking effect January 2013. “Permanent Disability” benefits were increased by 40% at a cost to employers of over $1.2 billion in new or added costs per year. There were a number of other changes, some good for employers, others very technical. One of the most effective tools employers were given to save money to offset the cost increases of the law are “return to work” programs. This means it pays for every injured worker, who is not in the hospital, to be back on the job doing something within the limits of their ability, the day after their injury. It might be better to call this a “stay at work” rather than a “return to work” policy.
California employers can save over $400 million a year in workers’ compensation cost by using this “stay at work” approach. But the savings are even larger in future premiums! When an injured worker is off duty due to a work injury, and he qualifies for “temporary disability benefits” under a workers’ compensation policy, he receives only 2/3rd of his pre-injury wage. BUT, this same temporary disability benefit costs almost all employers 2 times or more the lost wages – because these claim costs are used to set their “experience modification, not for one, but for 3 years in a row!. SO- the employee loses money by being off work and his employer pays more than twice as much as if the worker were to come back – even if the worker was just putting in time.
But of course a good return to work program is much more effective than just wasting an employee’s time. Every company I know has some work that they just have not gotten around to, but need to do “someday”. Such activities are always a place to look for “modified work” within the physical limits of a recovering employee.
If you would like to learn more about the return on investment or economic value of “stay at work” or “return to work” programs, just email me at DonDressler1@hotmail.com