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6 hours ago · by · 0 comments

2017 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently unveiled its top 10 most frequently cited violations. The agency reports the leading causes of workplace injuries during its fiscal year (October through the following September).
The 2017 top 10 list of most frequently cited standards did not change significantly from 2016, with fall protection violations remaining at the top of the list. In fact, the top five most cited violations remained the same.

  1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,072 citations
  2. Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of injuries at work. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how to best protect workers is the first step in eliminating or reducing fall hazards. This includes, but is not limited to, guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems in conjunction with safe work practices and training.

  3. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 4,176 citations
  4. In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information must be available about the identities and hazards of all chemicals in use. OSHA standard 1910.1200 governs hazard communication to workers about chemicals that are both produced or imported into the workplace. Both the failure to develop and maintain a proper written training program for employees, as well as the failure to provide a Safety Data Sheet for every hazardous chemical, top the citation list.

  5. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451): 3,288 citations
  6. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of scaffold accidents can be attributed to the planking or support of the scaffold giving way, or to employees slipping or being struck by falling objects. The dangers associated with scaffold use can be controlled if employers strictly enforce OSHA standards.

  7. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,097 citations
  8. Standard 1910.134 provides employers with guidance in establishing and maintaining a respiratory inspection program for program administration, worksite-specific procedures and respirator use. Respirators protect workers from oxygen-deficient environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards could cause cancer, lung impairment, and other diseases or death.

  9. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,877 citations
  10. Lockout/tagout (LOTO) refers to specific practices and procedures that safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. Workers who service mechanical and electrical equipment face the greatest risk of injury if LOTO is not properly implemented. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

  11. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,241 citations
  12. These types of violations typically occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer, such as when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces, or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.

  13. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,162 citations
  14. Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (particularly forklifts) occur. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are driven off of loading docks or when they fall between docks and unsecured trailers. Other common injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling from elevated pallets and tines. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls and machinery.

  15. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 1,933 citations
  16. When left exposed, moving machine parts have the potential to cause serious workplace injuries, such as amputations, burns, blindness, and crushed fingers or hands. The risk of employee injury is substantially reduced by installing and maintaining the proper machine guarding.

  17. Fall Protection Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): 1,523 citations
  18. Because falls represent such a serious risk, employers must train employees to identify potential fall hazards and follow procedures in order to minimize the chance of a fall. According to OSHA, employees should be trained to use fall protection methods, such as guardrails, safety nets and personal fall arrest systems, and employers should verify that employees have been trained by preparing written certification records.

  19. Electrical—Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 1,405 citations
  20. Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers, such as electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions. Electrical wiring violations that top the electrical citation list include the failure to install and use electrical equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, failure to guard electrical equipment, failure to identify disconnecting means or circuits, and not keeping workspaces clear.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

DOL Increases Civil Penalty Amounts for 2018

On Jan. 2, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that increases the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed on employers under various federal laws. The final rule increases the civil penalty amounts associated with:

  • Failing to file an annual Form 5500 under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA);
  • Repeated or willful violations of minimum wage or overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA);
  • Willful violations of the poster requirement under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and
  • Violations of the poster requirement under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).

The increased amounts apply to civil penalties that are assessed after Jan. 2, 2018. 

Employers should become familiar with the new penalty amounts and review their pay practices, benefit plan administration and safety protocols to ensure compliance with federal requirements.   

The 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act (Act) includes provisions to strengthen civil monetary penalties under various federal laws in order to maintain their deterrent effect. The Act required federal agencies, including the DOL, to adjust the civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment. The DOL made this initial adjustment in July 2016. Federal agencies are also required to make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation, no later than Jan. 15 of each year.

The DOL’s final rule implements the 2018 annual adjustments for civil penalties assessed or enforced by the DOL, including penalties under the FLSA, FMLA, OSH Act and ERISA. The increased penalty amounts became effective on Jan. 2, 2018, and may apply for any violations occurring after Nov. 2, 2015.

The updated maximum penalty amounts are shown in the table below.

REQUIREMENT PENALTY AMOUNT
2017 2018
Wage and Hour
Repeated or willful violations of minimum wage or overtime requirements (FLSA) Up to $1,925 for each violation Up to $1,964 for each violation
Violations of child labor laws Up to $12,278 for each employee subject to the violation Up to $12,529 for each employee subject to the violation
Violations of child labor laws that cause death or serious injury to an employee under age 18 Up to $55,808 for each violation (doubled to $111,616 if the violation is repeated or willful) Up to $56,947 for each violation (doubled to $113,894 if the violation is repeated or willful)
Willful failure to post FMLA general notice Up to $166 for each separate offense Up to $169 for each separate offense
Violations of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Up to $20,111 for each violation Up to $20,521 for each violation
Employee Benefits
Failure to file an annual report (Form 5500) with the DOL (unless a filing exemption applies) Up to $2,097 per day Up to $2,140 per day
Failure of a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) to file an annual report (Form M-1) with the DOL Up to $1,527 per day Up to $1,558 per day
Failure to furnish plan-related information requested by the DOL
*Under ERISA, administrators of employee benefit plans must furnish to the DOL, upon request, any documents relating to the employee benefit plan.  
Up to $149 per day, but not to exceed $1,496 per request Up to $152 per day, but not to exceed $1,527 per request
Failing to provide the annual notice regarding CHIP coverage opportunities
*This notice applies to employers with group health plans that cover residents of states that provide a premium assistance subsidy under a Medicaid or CHIP program.
Up to $112 per day for each failure (each employee is a separate violation) Up to $114 per day for each failure (each employee is a separate violation)
For 401(k) plans, failure to provide blackout notice or notice of right to divest employer securities Up to $133 per day Up to $136 per day
Failure to provide Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) Up to $1,105 per failure Up to $1,128 per failure
Employee Safety – OSH Act
Violation of posting requirement Up to $12,675 for each violation Up to $12,934 for each violation
Other-than-serious violation Up to $12,675 per violation Up to $12,934 for each violation
Serious violation Up to $12,675 for each violation Up to $12,934 for each violation
Willful violation Between $9,054 and $126,749 per violation Between $9,239 and $129,336 per violation
Uncorrected violation Up to $12,675 per day until the violation is corrected Up to $12,934 per day until the violation is corrected

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3 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Password Security Tips

Technology can be a risk, especially when it involves your password. You hear about all of the hack attempts on the large corporations, but you don’t hear about the every day person that get’s targeted by a cyber attack. Simply visiting a website could enable your attacker access to your computer. This should push you to protect your most valuable asset, your password! Don’t give the hackers an easy target by not following the simple tips on improving your password.

Improve Your Password

  1. Change your password every 30-45 days.
  2. Choose a password between 8-16 characters.
  3. Use at least two special characters (!@#$%^&*) randomly within your password
  4. Avoid using family or pet names, dates or common phrases within your password.
  5. Never reuse or repeat a password across accounts.

Stay Away from COMMON Passwords

Protect yourself (and your company) by making sure you’re not using one of the top 25 most commonly stolen passwords of 2017, as determined by IT security firm SplashData.

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou
  11. admin
  12. welcome
  13. monkey
  14. login
  15. abc123
  16. starwars
  17. 123123
  18. dragon
  19. passw0rd
  20. master
  21. hello
  22. freedom
  23. whatever
  24. qazwsk
  25. trustno1

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

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783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

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Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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