Category

OSHA

” Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training – What Employers Need to Know”

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On April 12th at 1:00 pm, we will be doing one of our most-attended webinars this year, ” Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training – What Employers Need to Know”. As you already know, this is a very hot topic and highly litigious area for all employers. For more details, see our website at www.strattonagency.com  of contact an HR Representative at 925-556-4404 for more details.

Employers Must Post OSHA 300A From February 1 – April 30

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Employers covered by OSHA’s recordkeeping rule are required to prepare and post the OSHA Form 300A, “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” beginning February 1 and keep the form posted until April 30.  The form must be posted at each establishment covered, in a conspicuous place where notices to employees are customarily posted.

Prior to posting, a company executive must review the OSHA 300A and certify that “he or she has examined the OSHA 300 Log and that he or she reasonably believes, based on his or her knowledge of the process by which the information was recorded, that the annual summary is correct and complete.”

Under OSHA’s rule, a company executive can be one of the following:  (1) an owner of the company (only if the company is a sole proprietorship or partnership); (2) an officer of the corporation; (3) the highest ranking company official working at the establishment; or (4) the immediate supervisor of the highest ranking company official working at the establishment.

OSHA can cite an employer who fails to post the OSHA Form 300A as required.  Employers should take steps now to ensure they are fully compliant.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

Update on the 2018 Flu Season – What Employers Need to know

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  • As of 1/5/18, there have been 28 flu-related deaths under age 65;
  • As of 1/17/18, there have been 42 flu-related deaths under the age of 65;
  • What is mainly circulating this year is the H3N2 and tends too cause more severe disease;
  • As of 1/17/18, at least 3,269 people in the state have tested positive for the flu, however it is believed this is very much under-reported;
  • As the number of confirmed cases of influenza grows, it is important to increase employee health and safety protocols for each place of employment, including disinfection of all surfaces and continually washing hands;
  • Health officials have recommended a full seven days to stop the cycle of spreading influenza;
  • Some hospitals are starting to initiate “flu protocols”. At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino County, the medical staff has erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of flu patients. Some of you will remember similar protocols some years back for the H1N1;
  • Employers should review illness protocols with employees and start to address the need for additional help to cover for sick employees;
  • Start stocking up on required personal protective equipment as needed including gloves. If N95 respirators are used, please see us to assist you with meeting Cal OSHA requirements.
  • We can also assist you with flu and handwashing posters;
  • It’s not too late to get flu shots!

If you should have any questions, please contact us at 925-556-4404

For all clients with 250 or more employees or 20 or more employees in hazardous industries (this will be blogged today)- required in ALL states

By | OSHA, Public Blogs, Safety | No Comments

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated new rules effective January 1, 2017, which requiredadditional reporting of injuries and illnesses by employers with 250 or more employees or employers with 20-249 employees in “hazardous industries.” These reports will be collected through an online portal and the reports will eventually be made publicly available on OSHA’s website.

The initial reports were originally due to be submitted to OSHA by July 1, 2017. However, that date came and went with no actual way to submit the reports and a note on the OSHA website said that implementation had been delayed.

Today, OSHA launched the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) which employers will use to electronically submit injury and illness data. OSHA also announced its intent to extend the date by which employers are required to submit their reports to December 1, 2017. 

The reporting process is entirely electronic and has three different options for data submission.

1.      Users will be able to manually enter data into a web form.

2.      Users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time.

3.      Users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface).

Employers should begin reviewing the ITA instructions and other materials available on OSHA’s website to ensure that they are prepared to properly submit the data by December 1, 2017. They should also ensure that they are adequately and accurately capturing the required data.

In addition to the reporting requirements, the new OSHA rules also impacted employer policies effective January 1, 2017.  If not yet done, employers should review their policies to ensure that they do not have potential chilling effects on employee reporting of accidents and injuries, and inform employees of their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Specialist at 925-556-4404.

Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Webinar

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On Wednesday Oct 25, 2017 @ 1:00 PM, we will be offering a 45 minute webinar titled “Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training”.

How timely is this?

As fas as I know, we are the only HR/Safety/Insurance company offering such a class for employers! This webinar spans across all employment types and I am sure if we get the word out, we will have some great attendance. Some of the areas we will be discussing include:

  • Definitions
  • OSHA-involvement
  • OSHA required Injury & Illness Prevention Program and an Emergency Action Plan and documented employee training
  • Workers’ Compensation due to injuries related to workplace violence
  • Legal ramifications including heavy fines and possible criminal involvement on the part of owners and managers
  • Hostage situations
  • Robberies/Burglaries and how are they different
  • Employee Assistance Plans
  • Business recovery – Can you business  actually survive an “active shooter situation”? and
  • And some mind blowing statistics!
 
Please let me know if you should have any questions.

OSHA Top 10 Safety Violations for 2017 (Fiscal Year)

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With employers always having limited resources for safety, they would benefit from OSHA’s Top 10 violations for 2017. If the employer are going to put money towards safety, I would recommend the following areas as applicable to their business:

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501)     

6,072

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)   

4,176

3. Scaffolding (1926.451)              

3,288

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)     

3,097

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)    

2,877

6. Ladders (1926.1053) 

2,241

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

2,162

8. Machine Guarding (1910.212)               

1,933

9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503)     

1,523

10. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)          

1,405

Fall protection has led the safety violations for many years and generally include falls in excess of 8 feet.

Hazard Communication includes all those written safety plans required by law.

No matter what industry an employer is in (and some are more than one), there is a high likelihood that you have an area in OSHA’s Top 10 violations.

California High Heat Advisory: Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers Shade Must Be Made Available for Outdoor Workers

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As temperatures are projected to hit triple digits across the state with
prolonged heat waves, Cal/OSHA reminds employers with outdoor workers that shade
must be made available at all times, and must be in place when temperatures reach 80
degrees or above.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and high heat
advisories statewide, especially in inland areas. Periods of prolonged, widespread triple
digit heat is expected tomorrow through Thursday in downtown Los Angeles and much
of Southern California’s inland areas, as well as in the Bay Area, Monterey, Sacramento
and Central Valley regions.

Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cooldown
rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health
problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to
be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also
increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.

Staying properly hydrated throughout the workday is one of the most effective heat
illness prevention techniques. Cal/OSHA encourages all workers to drink at least one
quart of water every hour, preferably sipping an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 minutes.
Drinks such as soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks or iced tea are not
recommended for hydration. Also, the lingering effects of alcoholic beverages can
contribute to quickly dehydrating the body in hot weather.

In addition to the basic steps outlined by California’s heat regulation for employers with
outdoor workers, heat at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit requires additional
precautions. Among other measures, it is crucial that workers are actively monitored for
early signs of heat illness. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment
immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into serious illness or death.

In case a worker does get sick, supervisors and coworkers must be trained on the
emergency procedures required to ensure that the sick worker receives treatment
immediately and serious illness does not develop.
Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and
other operations throughout the heat season.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

7 ways to keep germs out of your workplace

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In a very busy work environment, it’s easy to become distracted and put health on the back burner.. Unfortunately, skipping healthy habits can make us more susceptible to illnesses like viral and bacterial infections. It’s not good for business when employees or their family members are sick, so here are some tips for preventing illness in the workplace.

1. Offer immunizations: Vaccines are effective at preventing illnesses like the flu and other infectious diseases. Encourage employees to keep their vaccines up to date for themselves and their families. It’s best to make immunizations as convenient and cost-effective as possible. Employers can offer on-site clinics and choose a health plan that provides vaccines at little or no cost to participants.

2. Promote healthy foods and drinks: Maintaining a healthy diet and consuming a wide variety of essential nutrients can ward off disease. Next time you are thinking about offering doughnuts for a breakfast meeting, consider a healthier option like fruit and a low-sugar, high-protein yogurt. You could also implement a healthy vending and catering policy at your organization, which requires foods offered in the workplace to meet certain nutrition standards. Additionally, our bodies are not well-equipped to fight infections when we are dehydrated. Filtered drinking water should be easily accessible at your worksite. Installing water bottle refill stations makes drinking water a convenient choice. Always offer water as a beverage option at meetings and work events, and make sure that vending machines and cafeterias stock plenty of water as well.

3. Keep food safe: How long have those leftover turkey sandwiches been sitting out in the break room? Did employees wash their hands and follow good food safety practices when preparing their prized dish for the annual pot luck? Generally speaking, after about two hours at room temperature hot and cold foods will no longer be safe to eat. Make that only one hour if your employee picnic is outside in the summer heat. To keep hot and cold foods fresh longer, they must be properly insulated with hot and cold packs to maintain a safe temperature. Wash hands and prep surfaces between tasks like handling raw proteins and preparing ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables.

4. Minimize stress: Acute and chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make you more prone to infections. Stress in the workplace can have a number of causes such as working in an environment where employees have little control and high demands. Reducing stress in the workplace not only prevents the spread of infectious diseases, but also prevents many chronic conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

5. Encourage ZZZZs: Getting the right amount of quality sleep is important for many reasons and helps with fighting off diseases. Unfortunately, about a quarter of adults report having insufficient sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days.

6. Clean work spaces: Maintain good hygiene when it comes to your workplace. Bathrooms, common areas, break rooms, phones, keyboards, desks, door handles and elevator buttons can be germ magnets. Keep the common areas clean and encourage employees to clean personal office spaces regularly. Make sure bathrooms and break rooms are always stocked with plenty of hand soap to promote good hand hygiene.

7. Have a sick policy: An employer’s sick policy can dictate whether an employee is likely to come to work or stay at home when they are contagious or not feeling well. It’s important for employees to stay at home when they are sick. Sick employees are not productive at work, and staying home prevents the spread of disease to co-workers. An employee should not feel discriminated against or scrutinized for using sick days. Supervisors should be flexible and encourage their employees to refrain from working until they are no longer contagious and are feeling better.

Implement these simple tips at your worksite for a healthier, happier workforce. If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions. Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California. The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually high temperatures throughout the state, which will remain high for the rest of this week and into next week.

By | HR, OSHA, Private, Public Blogs, Safety | No Comments

Cal OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions. Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California. The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually high temperatures throughout the state, which will remain high for the rest of this week and into next week. California rules are very clear on how employers must protect their workers from heat illness.

Cal OSHA’s goal is to prevent deaths and serious illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to heat.” Special attention must be given to new employees who have not been acclimatized to working under hot conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to heat illness. They must be monitored carefully for signs of heat illness and should, if possible, be allowed to begin work earlier in the day when the temperature is lower or gradually work up to a full schedule. Many regions of the state will be reaching temperatures in the triple digits. When temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, employers are required to implement high heat procedures to ensure outdoor workers are protected.

Procedures include effective monitoring of all workers through methods such as a mandatory buddy system for workers or regular communication with workers who work alone. California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard requires employers to train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, develop emergency response procedures and train workers on how to execute those procedures when necessary. Cal OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations throughout the heat season.

A written Injury and Illness Prevention Program is required for employer who have more than 10 employees. Documented Heat Stress training is required regardless of employee size.

If you should have any questions, please contact us 925-556-4404.

Cal/OSHA Amendment Significantly Expands its Definition of “Repeat” Violations

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Effective January 1, 2017, Cal/OSHA will be utilizing a broader definition of “Repeat” violation under California’s Health and Safety Code.  This is significant for California employers because if Cal/OSHA finds a Repeat violation, the employer could initially be subject to a penalty of up to $70,000, and up to $124,709 or more when Cal/OSHA updates its penalties as required by federal OSHA.  According to OSHA, the purpose of the greater penalty for Repeat violations is to encourage an employer’s ongoing compliance with safety and health standards at all of its locations without requiring OSHA to engage in separate compliance actions at each location.  Because Cal/OSHA has always previously limited Repeat violations to a single worksite reoccurrence, and because of the forthcoming increased penalty structure, California employers will need to develop a more strategic response to any citations they receive.

In its 2013 Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation (FAME) Report, federal OSHA found that California’s enforcement of Repeat violations was lower than the federal average and noted that the policy used by the state was different and less protective than that applied by federal law.  As a result, Cal/OSHA was directed to amend California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 334(d), to be consistent with the definition of a Repeat violation as used by Federal OSHA.

Currently, a Repeat violation is defined in section 334(d), as a violation where an employer has corrected, or indicated correction of, an earlier violation for which a citation was issued and, upon a subsequent inspection within three years, Cal/OSHA finds that the employer has recommitted the same violation.  For employers with fixed establishments, section 334(d) currently limits Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue a repeat citation to the cited establishment, which means that both the underlying and the subsequent violation must have occurred at the same work site or address.

Now, however, California employers will be subject to a much broader definition of Repeat violation.  Specifically, Cal/OSHA amended section 334(d) by:

  1. Expanding the “look back” period of a Repeat violation from three years to five years.
  2. Defining a Repeat violation as a substantially similar violation.
  3. Increasing the geographic scope of a Repeat violation to any violation in the state.

Cal/OSHA Will Now Look Back Five Years

The current three-year look-back period of a Repeat violation begins to run on the date of the conduct giving rise to the violation.  But, if the employer appeals the citation, the appeal prevents the citation from becoming final, and a final citation is necessary for a Repeat violation to be found.  As the three-year clock runs from the date of the conduct, the employer could minimize its chance of a Repeat violation by appealing every citation issued.

Cal/OSHA’s amendment eliminated an employer’s incentive to appeal solely to shorten or exhaust the look-back period.  Now, the starting time for calculating the period begins at either:

  • the date of the final order affirming the existence of a previous violation cited in the underlying citation;
  • the date on which the underlying citation becomes final by operation of law; or
  • the date of final abatement of the violation cited in the underlying citation.

Cal/OSHA also expanded the window of time for a Repeat violation from three years to five years, which is a policy change that federal OSHA made in 2010.1

Cal/OSHA Will Now Consider Substantially Similar Violations

Cal/OSHA currently defines a Repeat violation as occurring when the employer has corrected, or indicated correction of an earlier violation, for which a citation was issued, and upon a later inspection is found to have committed the same violation again.

Cal/OSHA amended the rule to broadly allow it to find a Repeat violation for a violation of a “substantially similar” regulatory requirement. This change places Cal/OSHA directly in line with federal OSHA.  The “substantially similar” standard is the language used by federal OSHA but is not officially defined by Cal/OSHA.  Federal OSHA also does not have a regulatory definition of “substantially similar” but the term has been interpreted in policy documentation and numerous citation appeal decisions.  As the term is undefined, employers will have some opportunity to influence the interpretation of what constitutes substantially similar violations supporting a Repeat violation in California, but this may be one area where the state adopts the federal interpretation.  The greater scope naturally increases the frequency at which a Repeat violation could be issued.

Cal/OSHA Will Now Consider Statewide Violations

The current rule defining the geographic scope of Repeat violations is that the later citation must involve the same factory, store, or other fixed establishment that was previously cited.  But, for field sanitation standards, a Repeat violation is any subsequent violation state-wide, on the theory that farm labor contractors work up and down the state during a short span of time and, thus, violations at different sites in California are akin to Repeat violations.

Cal/OSHA eliminated the difference between field sanitation and other industries and removed the geographical restrictions that currently limit a Repeat violation to a specific facility or store.  In other words, in determining whether to cite the employer for a Repeat violation, Cal/OSHA will consider any violation in the state as opposed to violations at a specific location.  Thus, for example, if Cal/OSHA finds a violation at a facility in Los Angeles, and if the employer has facilities in Sacramento and San Francisco, the agency will determine whether citations for substantially similar violations were issued at the facilities in those two cities.

Implications for Employers

Starting in 2017, California employers can no longer focus solely on the financial implications of settling a citation or contesting it.  Employers will have to be more strategic in their response.  Because the Repeat classification and increased penalties are not directly limited to Serious violations, employers will even have to consider their acceptance or appeal of General and Regulatory citations.

Employers can initially focus even more attention on preventing workplace safety violations through comprehensive programs.  However, if an employer receives a citation, it should carefully evaluate whether simply paying the citation is the best strategy and also should immediately determine whether it is in compliance with other standards that are “substantially similar” to the one for which it was cited at all of its California facilities.  This increased focus will raise the cost of abatement for employers that do decide to accept a citation because they will need to ensure abatement at all of their locations to avoid future Repeat violations with their substantial penalties.  Overall, this change will undoubtedly lead to more litigation over Cal/OSHA citations as employers will need to manage their citation history to avoid future Repeat violations occurring over a five-year period.