Executive Order on Apprenticeships Expected to Help Manufacturers
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that will expand apprenticeship programs across the country. As a result of the order, the number of available apprenticeships is expected to increase and the federal government will increase spending for apprenticeship programs to $200 million per year.
Many manufacturers use apprenticeships to meet employment requirements and help students get hands-on experience that can’t be achieved in a classroom. A larger emphasis on apprenticeships may also help fill an anticipated employee shortage in the manufacturing industry. According to the Manufacturing Institute, there will be 3.4 million manufacturing jobs to fill over the next 10 years.
Although the executive order didn’t set specific goals for the number of apprenticeships to be added, experts believe that up to 5 million apprenticeships could exist in the next 10 years. A clause included in the executive order may also allow existing internships to be categorized as apprenticeships.
Machining Safety Tips
Using machines is common for every manufacturer, but ignoring machining safety can expose you to incredibly high costs. OSHA issued $6.8 million in penalties for machining safety violations in 2015, and the associated costs of medical bills, damaged equipment and replacement personnel is much higher.
Before your employees use any machine, you should conduct a review to ensure that they’re properly trained and that all equipment is in working condition. Also, make sure that machine guards are in place to prevent injuries and that employees wear any required personal protective equipment. For more resources on machining safety, contact us at 831-661-5697 today.
Air Bag Manufacturer Files for Bankruptcy
Japanese auto part supplier Takata recently filed for bankruptcy after many years of managing the largest product recall in U.S. history. At least 16 deaths have been attributed to the company’s faulty air bag inflators, and over 69 million vehicles have been recalled as a result.
Although Takata recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of an agreement with the Justice Department, mounting costs from the recall and associated lawsuits overwhelmed the manufacturer. However, Takata executives stated that filing for bankruptcy will allow them to reorganize their finances and continue shipping replacement parts for affected vehicles.
Employee Drug Use Reaches 12-year High
The positive drug test rate for the U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent in 2016, according to the Drug Testing Index (DTI) released by Quest Diagnostics. This represents a 5 percent increase over the positive rate in 2015, and the largest single-year positive rate since 2004.
The DTI analyzed over 10 million workforce drug test results from 2016 and categorized employees into three categories, including employees with federally mandated drug tests, the general workforce and the combined U.S. workforce. Here are additional details about the DTI’s findings for specific drug types:
- Marijuana—The positive test rate for marijuana increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing, which is used in the general workforce. Federally mandated marijuana tests only utilize urine tests, and the positive test rate increased 10 percent in 2016.
- Cocaine—Positive test rates for cocaine in post-accident drug tests were more than twice as high as pre-employment screenings.
- Amphetamines—Positive test rates for amphetamines have risen 64 percent between 2012 and 2016 for the general workforce. Quest Diagnostics attributes this increase to the prevalence of prescription drugs, including Adderall.
In order to create a safe, productive workplace, you need to watch out for potential drug use at your business.
Political Discussions Hurt Job Performance
Many people can get worked up about politics, but a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that political discussions in the workplace can have a big impact on your employees’ job performance.
The APA surveyed U.S. employees about the impact of political discussions after the 2016 presidential election, and found that these discussions have a detrimental effect on job performance and relationships with co-workers. The survey found that 40 percent of employees have experienced a negative outcome following a workplace political discussion, such as reduced productivity or difficulty getting work done. Additionally, 24 percent of employees said they avoid some co-workers solely because of their politics.
According to the APA, social networks and constant news reports can cause individuals to adopt an “us versus them” political mentality, which can lead to conflict. As a result, it’s important to encourage respect, collaboration and courtesy in your workplace to ensure that your employees feel supported and remain productive.
New Executive Order Aims to Improve Cyber Security
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order to improve the country’s cyber security and protect key infrastructure from cyber attacks. The order also emphasized the importance of strengthening the cyber security of federal agencies. According to a survey from Thales Group, a cyber security company, 34 percent of federal agencies experienced a data breach in the last year, and 95 percent of agencies consider themselves vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The executive order did not create any ongoing cyber security requirements, but instead laid out goals to assess the current state of cyber defenses and develop deterrence strategies. Here are some of the requirements of the executive order:
- Federal agencies must draft reports on their ability to defend themselves against cyber threats.
- The departments of Energy and Homeland Security must assess potential vulnerabilities to the country’s electrical grids. The executive order specifically mentions that prolonged power outages could pose a threat to national security or damage the economy.
- Various federal agencies must review the cyber defense plans of U.S. allies in order to cooperate during international cyber attacks.
Apple Creates $1 Billion Fund to Support U.S. Manufacturing
Apple, the world’s largest technology company, recently announced that it will create a $1 billion fund to support U.S. manufacturing. Although the company is based in the United States, it has faced criticism for outsourcing most of its manufacturing and taking jobs from U.S. workers.
Apple’s CEO stated that one goal of the fund was to support smart manufacturing and to create a ripple effect in industries that support smart manufacturers. For more information on the manufacturing fund, visit Apple’s website.
DID YOU KNOW?
A U.S. Court of Appeals recently barred the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from requiring recreational drone owners to register their unmanned aircraft. The FAA had originally required recreational drones to be registered in order to help identify aircraft that posed a hazard, and to pass on safety information to operators. However, the court’s ruling will not impact the use of drones for commercial use, as these aircraft must still be registered with the FAA before they are used.
OSHA Program to Target Southern Auto Part Makers
OSHA has renewed a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) for auto part manufacturers in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The REP was originally established to reduce workplace hazards in the auto parts industry, including electrical, struck-by, caught-in and crushing hazards.
Information released by OSHA revealed that the REP led to 46 safety inspections in 2016, which resulted in 143 violations. Now that the REP has been renewed, OSHA will continue to target auto parts manufacturers in the region for inspections.
Trump Administration Will Not Label China as a Currency Manipulator
President Donald Trump recently announced that his administration will not officially label China as a currency manipulator. This is a reversal from previous statements released by Trump, as he stated during his presidential campaign that he would take steps to label the country as a currency manipulator during his first days in office.
Many experts believe that the Chinese government artificially weakens its own currency to make its goods more affordable for American consumers. However, Trump recently stated that China hasn’t manipulated its currency in months, and that the current strength of the U.S. dollar is hurting exports of domestic goods.
This policy reversal is seen by some as a move to maintain China as an ally against North Korea after recent political unrest in the area. However, the decision to not label China as a currency manipulator has already had an impact. According to S&P Global Platts, an energy information provider, the stocks of 10 major U.S. steel producers fell after Trump’s announcement.
Cyber Insurance on the Rise in Manufacturing
Before now, cyber insurance has usually been purchased by consumer-facing businesses, such as health care providers, retailers and financial institutions. However, cyber attacks are now capable of taking control of manufacturing plants and products, and many businesses in the industry are purchasing cyber insurance policies to protect themselves.
According to Advisen, an insurance data provider, manufacturers paid nearly $37 million in cyber insurance premiums in 2016, an increase of 89 percent compared to 2015. Get in touch with us today at 831-661-5697 to discuss a cyber insurance policy and protect your business.