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What played out as a soap opera of sorts involving all three branches of government has resulted in relief for employers. On March 22, 2017, the Senate narrowly adopted House Joint Resolution 83 (H.J.Res.83) under the Congressional Review Act. The joint resolution nullifies a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) final rule that went into effect on January 18, 2017. The rule, Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness (Continuing Obligation Rule), created a continuing obligation for employers to make and maintain an accurate record of workplace injuries and illnesses, and opened them up to OSHA citations beyond the six-month statute of limitations established under § 658(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).

OSHA developed the Continuing Obligation Rule due to an unfavorable 2012 federal court decision holding that OSHA’s ability to issue citations is limited to the six-month period following the occurrence of a violation as set forth in the OSH Act (AKM LLC d/b/a Volks Constructors v. Sec’y of Labor, 675 F.3d 752 (D.C. Cir. 2012)). On March 1, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted H.J.Res.83 to preclude OSHA’s ability to enforce its Continuing Obligation Rule, resolving that it should have no force or effect. The Senate’s approval on March 22 means that the resolution will now go to President Trump for signature. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the resolution.

By Nicole Quinn-Gato, JD
Originally published by

Question: Are we required to allow employees (either exempt or nonexempt) to work from home if we must close the office due to bad weather?

Answer: No, employers are not required to allow employees to telework (work from home or another location; virtual work) under any specific weather conditions regardless of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption status. However, employers may allow employees to telework. Company policy should delineate procedures for both teleworking and notice requirements when inclement weather affects the workplace; for instance, notice from the employer that the workplace is closed and notice from the employee that they cannot travel to the workplace due to weather-related or other emergency conditions. These policies should be in the employee handbook, and should also detail whether the employer will allow nonexempt employees to make up missed time.

Note that if the employer closes the workplace for weather-related reasons, nonexempt employees are not entitled to pay because such employees are only entitled to compensation for hours actually worked. However, an employer may allow nonexempt employees to use accrued paid time off so as to receive compensation during such an absence. If paid time off is not available, then the time off remains unpaid.

Alternatively, exempt employees who are able and available to work but do not work because the employer closed the workplace due to inclement weather are still entitled to their full week of pay. This is because the exempt employee is available to work but rather the employer made the work unavailable. As a general rule, if an exempt employee performs any work during the workweek, they must be paid their full salary amount. An employer may not make deductions from an exempt employee’s pay for absences caused by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. If the exempt employee is ready, willing and able to work, an employer cannot make deductions from the exempt employee’s pay when no work is available. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor specifically states that an example of an improper deduction from an exempt employee’s pay includes deduction of a days’ pay because the employer was closed due to inclement weather.

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workplace-safetyOn October 21, 2016, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to update OSHA’s 1989 guidelines. The updates reflect the countless changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues since its first release 30 years ago.

The Recommended Practices combine an easy-to-use format with a step-by-step approach to help employers in implementation of a workplace safety and health program. According to OSHA, these new guidelines provide a straightforward approach based around seven core elements, each of which are implemented by completing several action items. The seven core elements are:

  • Management leadership.
  • Worker participation.
  • Hazard identification and assessment.
  • Hazard management and control.
  • Education and training.
  • Program evaluation and improvement.
  • Communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies.

According to OSHA, the older, traditional approaches are generally reactive rather than proactive. Traditional practices often address a problem after an incident occurs; however, with these new standards and practices the goal is to find and fix hazards before the damage, injury, or illness. The new guidelines outline the core elements, provide tools (downloadable templates, worksheet, and reference materials), related case studies, additional resources covering all the core elements, and the ability to download all the recommended practices for quick reference and application.

For employers, it’s important to note that these new guidelines are for advisory purposes only and do not create new OSHA requirements or safety laws for employer compliance. Regardless, the guidelines — intended to be significantly helpful in small and medium-sized workplaces — may be used in any workplace to create a comprehensive yet flexible framework for addressing workplace safety and health issues.

Originally published by

0621The 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.

Originally published by United Benefit Advisors – Read More

OSHA’s Final Rule on Electronic Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses | Ohio Benefit Advisors

Categories: Employee Safety, Team K Blog, UBA News
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WorkplaceSafety_iStock_92086861Beginning 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.

Originally published from United Benefit Advisors

In the Spotlight Again: Workplace Violence

Categories: Employee Safety
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With three tragic incidents of workplace violence occurring during the same week in September, it’s no wonder the topic is once again making national headlines.

Just ahead of these terrible events, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported citing two companies for knowingly violating their obligation to protect workers from unsafe conditions — under the “general duty” or “broad duty” clause — and fined them both in excess of $70,000. This clause requires employers to create workplaces that are free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm or death to employees.

Given these recent cases and the highly publicized spate of workplace violence, employers everywhere are pondering the question of how to prevent violent incidents from occurring to and among their workers.

An outstanding article from Human Resource Executive Online, “Fighting Workplace Violence,” offers several ideas worth considering, including:

  • Creating a formal workplace violence prevention policy that is shared among all workers and contained in a company’s Employee Handbook.
  • Forming workplace violence prevention committees.
  • Assessing security gaps.
  • Establishing employee hotlines.

The article goes on to quote Richard Mendelson, deputy regional administrator at OSHA in New York, who said that senior executives, in particular, need to demonstrate their commitment toward developing a safe environment by implementing administrative controls and supporting zero tolerance policies for workplace violence. Mendelson also suggested that employers require employees to work in pairs or teams in certain situations and that they train employees to recognize threatening conditions.

Although workplace violence is back in the media spotlight, it appears that workplace homicides (which represent only one category of workplace violence) have actually decreased 16% from 2012 to 2013, according to data being compiled by organizations such as OSHA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to research by these organizations, 397 U.S. workplace deaths were homicides in 2013, accounting for 9% of all workplace deaths. Among the occupations in which a higher percentage of workplace deaths are due to homicide are retail sales, food preparation/serving, legal occupations, and business and financial operations.

If you’d like to learn more about how organizations can better prepare for and prevent workplace violence, the U.S. Department of Labor devotes an entire portion of its website to the topic of workplace violence.

The site addresses risk factors, prevention programs, training and enforcement and offers links to a wide variety of resources as well.