If your employees slip up in using personal protective equipment, the results can be dangerous, if not deadly.
Among many health and safety professionals, PPE comes in last place—behind engineering controls and work practice or administrative controls – because it only addresses hazards indirectly and has the most potential failure points.
One of these potential points involves interaction between the worker and equipment, when employees make critical mistakes in the care, use, and replacement of PPE.
- Mistake No. 1: Improper care. For example, a worker takes her foam earplugs out to consult with another worker about a problem, and then rolls the earplugs again with dirty hands before reinserting them. At the end of the day, she leaves the earplugs inside her hard hat and re-uses them the next workday.
- Mistake No. 2: Misuse. A worker wearing a fall protection harness leaves the harness loose, but pulls the lanyard tight. Another worker who uses a respirator at work decides to grow a beard.
- Mistake Number 3: Failure to replace PPE as needed. Let’s say that a supervisor whose workers are supposed to use a new pair of chemical protective gloves each day, decides he will save his department money by telling workers to use each pair of gloves for a week before replacing them. After all, they still look fine after a week. Equipment should be changed 1) after each shift, it it’s disposable (gloves protective clothing, etc.). 2) whenever it shows signs of wear and tear or damage. 3) on schedule, if it’s reusable and must be replaced before exceeding its useful life. and 4) after a save, for single-use PPE, such as hardhats, fall protection harnesses and lanyards.
A word to the wise …
Workplace safety signs and tags play a key role in helping prevent accidents to workers and visitors alike.
To make the most effective use of signs and tags in your facility that comply with OSHA regulation (29 CFR 1910.145), we’d recommend that you follow these guidelines:
- Identify all hazards throughout the workplace. In addition to obvious dangers, include those that are out of the ordinary, unexpected, or not readily apparent.
- Select or design signs and tags. Make sure they conform to OSHA requirements and are consistent in format.
- Use proper wording. According to OSHA, “the wording of any sign should be easily read, concise, and contain sufficient information to be easily understood.”
- Position signs carefully. Signs should be placed so that they’re easy to see and read from a distance and draw maximum attention to hazards.
- Identify safety and fire protection equipment clearly. This includes such items as eyewash stations and safety showers, as well as fire extinguishers and hoses.
- Employ tags properly. OSHA requires that “tags shall be used as a means to prevent accidental injury or illness to employees who are exposed to hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions, equipment, or operations.”
- Review your program whenever new hazards are introduced. If you just put up signs and tags and forget about them, your facility probably won’t be in compliance with the OSHA regulations. Check the program frequently to make sure that it’s still doing the job.
The workplace safety professionals at our agency would be happy to help you review your signage and tag policy. Give us a call at any time.
In managing today’s disability laws attorneys advise you to not fight whether something is in fact a disability, but simply to worry about whether you can reasonably accommodate limitations to meet productivity standards. A variety of accommodations might be available, depending on the circumstances. Here’s a list of possibilities. To learn more we encourage you to visit the Job Accommodation Network www.askjan.org
- 1. Make existing facilities accessible. This might include access to break rooms, restrooms, training rooms, parking, furniture, equipment, etc.
- Allow applicants or employees to bring assistive animals to work (of course under limited circumstances.)
- Transfer employees to a more accessible worksite.
- Transfer employees to a different job that they can, in fact, do. Note that you are not required to create a new job as an accommodation.
- Provide assistive aids and services such as qualified readers or interpreters to an applicant or employee.
- Restructure the job by the reallocating or redistributing nonessential job functions in a job with multiple responsibilities.
- Provide a part-time or modified work schedule (not as a permanent solution, but only as an accommodation.)
- Permit an alteration of when or how an essential function is performed (i.e. instead of being required to come to work at 9 they can come to work at 10).
- Provide an adjustment to modifications of exams training materials or policies.
- Allow an employee to work for from home (yes disabled employees may have a greater right to do so than your nondisabled ones).
- Provide a paid or unpaid leave (no law requires you to offer an indefinite leave.)
Of course, by now you’ve been drilled to understand that what’s a reasonable accommodation versus an undue burden varies on a case-by-case basis. You’ll need to consider the cost and nature of the accommodation, and the overall financial resources of the company, the type of operations, geographic location and other factors. Take a look at the ADA forms and the checklists in HR That Works.
Imagine that you ignored or forgot to pay a few minor traffic tickets – and that the police arrested you as a scofflaw.
It can happen. For the past seven years, the “Great Texas Warrant Roundup” has mailed thousands of notices a year giving citizens with outstanding warrants for offenses such as minor traffic violations two weeks to pay up –or face arrest.
Although this is an extreme example, if you have accumulated numerous tickets for minor violations, you’ll need to choose between hiring an attorney to go to court (assuming that you have a strong case) or paying the fine.
Even though using a lawyer will set you back several hundred dollars, it might make financial sense. If you’re acquitted, the tickets won’t show up on your driving record, which will play a major role when the insurance company sets your renewal rate; if you pay the tickets, your premiums could rise as much as 40% to 50% — a hike that will probably be far more than the attorney’s fee.
If you lawyer up, ask the attorney:
- Do you charge by the hour or a flat fee?
- What is your rate?
- What does the rate cover – and not cover?
- How and when do you expect payment?
However, paying up for minor traffic offenses is often the way to go. For one thing, unless you have a strong case, you did break the law. If you have several tickets, taking a driving course, might help erase points from your record. If a driver picks up a few minor violations a year, most insurance companies won’t factor them into the renewal rate.
As always, we stand ready to offer our professional advice.
Most employers have to carry unemployment insurance on their employees. Do you really understand, though, when you can use your unemployment insurance benefits? Knowing the answer to this question can help you make important decisions about using this coverage.
What is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment Insurance is designed to help you cover expenses when you’re between jobs. It usually gives you a percentage of your working wages rather than a full paycheck.
Unemployment laws also vary by state. Although they follow guidelines from the federal government, each state’s Department of Labor determines how much coverage workers get when they file for unemployment.
Who’s Eligible to Collect Unemployment Benefits?
If you’ve been laid off or fired and are not at fault, you may qualify for unemployment. You will generally be disqualified from receiving unemployment, though, if you:
*Quit without having a good cause,
*Are fired for misconduct,
*Resign because of illness,
*Become involved in a labor dispute or
*Leave to get married or attend school.
What are Unemployment Insurance Limits?
Most states allow you to receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. In cases, you may be eligible for extensions based on federal guidelines or your state’s unemployment rates.
When Should You File?
As soon as you’re laid off or let go from your job, file for unemployment. It often takes two to three weeks for benefits to start, so a delay in filing means a delay in receiving benefits.
Also, realize that unemployment is not a free ride. While you can use the money to pay any expenses, you typically have to prove that you’re looking for employment to receive ongoing benefits. You’ll also have to report any hours you worked.
Unemployment insurance gives you some financial assistance if you lose your job.
Don’t quit and expect to be compensated, though. Discuss this coverage with your employer, insurance company or Department of Labor if you need further clarification.
No matter how old you are, retirement will be here sooner than you think. Your employer can help you prepare for this season of life. As you decide if you should transfer existing 401(k) funds into a Roth 401(k), consider your tax preferences.
When You Pay Taxes Matters
Most investment strategists typically recommend that consumers like you invest pre-tax money in their retirement accounts. That means you deposit funds into your retirement account before you pay taxes on the cash. Traditional 401(k)s work this way and allow you to pay taxes on the money you withdraw during retirement.
Open a Roth 401(k), and you’ll be depositing cash that’s already been taxed. When you’re ready to retire, the only taxes you pay are on the profits your investment earned.
You Choose the Option You Prefer
Ultimately, the choice of whether to stick with a traditional 401(k) or transfer to a Roth 401(k) is up to you. After all, it’s your money and your future. Your current and future tax brackets are invaluable tools that can help you decide what to do.
*If your current tax bracket is fairly high and you expect it to decrease once you enter retirement age, stick with your traditional 401(k).
*If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement or are you a young worker who’s just starting out in your career, the Roth 401(k) is a wise choice. It lets you pay taxes on your investment now when you have more disposable income.
Are you ready to make a decision about whether or not choosing a Roth 401(k) is right for you? Then, talk to your company’s human resources department. Find out if the new Roth 401(k) is available and clarify any questions you might have about retirement investing. With this information, you ensure your retirement account wishes are put into practice as you prepare for the future.