Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Office Party Tips For Playing It Safe!

It’s that wonderful time of the year again and for those of us that have been in the workplace for many years, we can likely recall the crazy office parties that went well into the night and may have even ended the next day with an awful hangover and a few regrets. That fact is that when it comes to office parties the best advice for business owners and employees alike is “not to party like its 1999”.

While office holiday parties are a good way for a company’s owners and executives to show their appreciation to employees, clients, and vendors alike, these types of gatherings can get a company into plenty of legal trouble too. Why so? In a word…“alcohol”.

Many an office party has had an unhappy ending when and over served employee or guest made un unwelcomed sexual advance to a coworker or other guest; or possibly worse, was involved in a serious car accident on the way home. Either way, the company hosting the party can be held liable.

1. You are liable! A good idea is to check your business insurance and see if you are covered in the vent that a mishap occurs in conjunction with the party.  A commercial general liability policy may cover liquor liability, but that doesn’t cover sexual harassment or a physical assault by a party attendee. Call your insurance agent to see what your policy covers.
2. Establish expectations for your employees and guests. Office Parties are usually given to show the company’s appreciation for its employees, clients, vendors, or other supporters.  However, the key point is that it is still a “work related event”. Everyone needs to understand this point and be advised that normal office protocol and professional behavior is still expected (even if alcohol is being served).  Send out an email to the staff and post the same message on the company bulletin board that reminds everyone what is expected of them.
3. Pick a theme that doesn’t encourage trouble. Having a party at a local pub with an open bar sends a direct message to everyone attending…”Let’s Party!” Many companies have enjoyable events that do not serve alcohol; of course that’s an option that you may consider.  Having the party during the day as a luncheon or open house is another consideration; keep in mind that  these events can be alcohol free or simply encourage moderate alcohol consumption (as opposed to an afterhours or night time event). Maybe, you can just issue “drink tickets” to each guest (no more than 3 is advised), but watch out, unused tickets can easily end-up with someone getting over served.
4. Have a plan for the party’s end. Arrange for a car service to be ready at the party’s conclusion.  Keep the number for a local cab service ready and easily accessible for hosts to make quick arrangements for a ride. Make sure that the attendees know when the party is supposed to end in advance and then stick to that time. Keep a watchful eye out for anyone that may have had too much to drink and then take the necessary steps to get them home, safely.

So, keep in mind that holiday office parties are a company’s responsibility and may be a liability to be considered. Unfortunately, these types of events can be a human resources department’s nightmare. To learn more about how a PEO can augment or support your company’s human resources related needs contact the LL Roberts Group (toll free) at 877.878.6463.   You can even talk to us on Facebook!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

What You Need To Know About OSHA's New Reporting Requirements For January 1, 2015

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, there will be a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding about the incident.
Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident. The updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.
Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or they will be able to report online at www.osha.gov/report_online.
In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

Join OSHA for an online discussion Dec 11
OSHA will be on Twitter, Dec. 11, 2014 to answer your questions about the new reporting requirements going into effect at the beginning of the new year. Join the Twitter chat from 12-1 p.m. CST, where you can ask questions and follow the conversation live using the hashtag #Reporting2015.

Let's Review:

Starting January 1, 2015 all employers* must report: 
  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours
Within 24 hours, all work-related
  • Inpatient hospitalizations
  • Amputations / Losses of an eye  
How to Report Incident
  • Call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)
To find your nearest OSHA area office, during normal business hours (www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html)   or  Visit http://www.osha.gov/report_online   


Should you have any questions concerning, OSHA Compliance please contact your LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management Department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. or you can talk to us on Facebook!

 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veterans Day, We Thank You For You Service.

We honor all our men & women in uniform, past, present, and future. Thank You for your service and courage. We thought we would share some history about our Veterans on their day. 

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.


Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their 
country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

The First Veterans Day

Alvin J. King, the uncle of John Cooper, a soldier killed in World War II, approached his congressman, Edward J. Rees, and asked that Armistice Day be changed to a holiday that would honor all veterans from all wars. Congressman Rees did as asked and on June 1, 1954, 
Many Americans thought that the date of Veterans Day was much too important to be altered, and in 1975, Congress changed the law. Since 1978, Veterans Day has been held on Nov. 11.

Veterans Day Facts & Stats 


  • In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. 
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). 
  • In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
  • George Patton, the famous World War II American military officer, was born on November 11, in 1885. Although he was born before Veterans Day was established, it is interesting that this famous war heroes shares his birthday with a day that honors veterans live now.
  • There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.
  • 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65.
  • 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35.
  • 1.8 million veterans are women.
  • 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans.
  • 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).
  • 2.6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945).
  • 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.

The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. If you know a Veteran or see one, be sure to thank them for their service. Today and every day. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Basic Workplace Safety Made Simple

Have you ever wondered how your office, job site,or facility would score after a safety inspection? Here is a basic overview of what to look for and see where you might find some areas of improvement. Not all sections on this overview will apply to everyone, but almost everyone will find something on here that will apply to them. By performing regular safety inspections, you help keep the workplace safe by identifying and correcting hazards in the workplace. Inspection frequency depends on the hazard level of the workplace; sites may need checks at every shift, daily, quarterly or annually. Document the inspection observations, identified hazards, and the corrective actions taken.

To start, focus on the administrative records and postings at the workplace. SDS or MSDS binders, safety programs, procedures, trainings, and records need to be up to date and accurate. Critical procedures (e.g. spill cleanup, evacuation) should be posted in prominent locations. Required employer postings (e.g. OSHA, Workers Compensation, and labor law) must be “likely to be seen” by employees.

Floor surfaces should be clean and free of slip hazards such as dirt, granular substances, equipment parts, water, or oil. Wet surfaces should be covered with non-slip materials. Holes in the floor, sidewalk, carpet, or other walking surface should be repaired properly, covered, or made safe.

For good housekeeping, items and debris should be kept up off floors and out of walkways. Stored items need to be stacked properly on shelving units firmly attached to the wall; heavier items should be on the bottom, lighter items stored on top shelves. Items stored on tops shelves require 18” clearance from fire sprinkler systems. Unsecured stacks on floors should not exceed 72” in height.

Electric panels should have 36” clearance in front. Power cords to equipment should be intact; repair or replace frayed cords. Check that extension cords do not cross walkways and are used only temporarily. Additional power outlets should be installed if extension cords are necessary on a permanent basis or there are “daisy chained” power strips. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets should be installed around wet areas.

Aisles and walkways need 36” clearance in an office and 44” in a shipping area. Clearly mark emergency exits so they can be seen from any point in the facility. Keep exits clear of stacked material and other impediments. Label doors that are not exits to avoid confusion. Fire doors should not be propped open.

Ensure equipment and tools are in good working order; place defective equipment out of service. Check that equipment guards and protective coverings are in place. Store chemicals within their compatible classes; flammables should be kept in a secured flammable cabinet. Personal protective equipment should be clean and accessible with available areas and materials for decontamination and storage.

Test fire alarms and sprinkler systems annually. Fire extinguishers should be checked for charge monthly and recharged annually. Inspect first aid kits periodically and replenish or replace supplies when needed. 


If you have any questions concerning work place safety and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eye Protection - Seeing is Believing

In just the blink of an eye, an incident can injure or even blind a worker who is not wearing proper protective eye wear. The type of eye protection-safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets must meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In hazardous workplaces, eyeglasses should only be worn in conjunction with ANSI-approved additional cover protection. Supervisors and managers should always check their employees eye protection to ensure that they are using ANSI approved glasses. If they don't have the ANSI markings on the safety glasses, throw them out and get the proper protection immediately.  

Eye safety requirement signs should be posted for anyone entering a work area that requires industrial-quality eye protection. Warning signs should be placed near machines, equipment, or process areas that require specific eye protection.

Eye injuries can be reduced when workers are properly trained to recognize the eye hazard they may encounter and to use and care for eye protection equipment properly. Workers in hazardous areas should also know what to do in case of an eye injury. In all eye injury cases, professional medical attention should be sought as soon as possible after taking initial first-aid measures. There are several causes for eye injury: 

  • Foreign particles such as dust, dirt, metal, wood chips, even an eyelash can cause eye damage. These get into the eye from the wind or activities like chipping, grinding, sawing, brushing, hammering, or from power tools, equipment, and machinery. Flush the object out with water. Never rub or try to remove objects embedded in the eye. This can cause further damage. Loosely bandage eyes to stop movement then seek professional care.
  • Chemical splashes from solvents, paints, hot liquids, or other hazardous solutions can cause great damage. Go immediately to the nearest emergency shower or water source. Look directly into the stream of water. With fingers hold eyes open and flush eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  • Light burns can be caused from exposure to welding, lasers, or other radiant light. Their effect may not be felt until hours later when the eyes begin to feel gritty and become sensitive to light, then redness or swelling may occur. Keep eyes closed while awaiting medical attention.
  • Bumps and blows to the eyes can be helped if a cold compress is applied for 15 minutes to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Cuts in or around the eyes should be loosely bandaged to stop any eye movement until professionally attended. Don’t rub, press, or wash the cut; this can cause further damage. 


Eye safety is no accident. Nothing can replace the loss of an eye. Protect your eyesight from workplace hazards by wearing and caring for appropriate, approved protective eye wear. You’ll see the difference.


If you have any questions concerning safety glasses or Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)  and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stay Safe Working In Hot Temperatures!

 It's that time again when hot conditions put your body under a lot of stress. Physical activity stresses the body even more. When heat is combined with physical activity, loss of fluids, fatigue, and other conditions can lead to a number of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Death is even possible. This week's blog discusses ways to prevent heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of heat-stress conditions.
Warm weather increases the number of heat-stress injuries and illnesses, but Heat stress can occur any time the surrounding temperature is elevated. Even if the weather is cool, you may work in warm areas, indoors or out.
The main factors that are involved in causing heat stress include:
  • temperature  &  humidity
  • movement of air & radiant temperature of the surroundings
  • clothing & physical activity
Adjusting to these factors and/or controlling them may reduce the chance of heat stress. Your body can adjust to working in a warm environment through a process known as "acclimatization". Check with your company's safety people for the exact way to properly acclimatize yourself.  Keep in mind, though, even if you're already acclimatized, conditions can change which stress your body even more. Bright sunshine, high humidity, and sources of heat in the workplace can affect your body's ability to cool itself. If conditions change, make sure you re-acclimate yourself to the new conditions.
Engineering controls implemented to reduce the possibility of heat stress include:
  • control the heat source through use of insulation and reflective barriers
  • exhaust hot air or steam away from the work area
  • use of air-conditioning & use of air-conditioned rest areas
  • use of fans to circulate the air
Administrative controls to prevent heat stress injuries include:
  • increase  frequency and duration of rest breaks
  • schedule tasks to avoid physical activity during the hottest parts of the day
  • provide cool water and encourage consumption
  • use additional jobsite workers or slow the pace of the work
  • review  the signs and symptoms of heat stress with workforce
There are a number of types of heat stress injuries. Some are annoying but not very serious. Others can quickly lead to life-threatening situations. Knowing what to look out for is important. This is especially true because the more serious heat stress conditions cause the victim to become disoriented and unaware of his/her condition. People who are overweight, physically unfit, suffer from heart conditions, drink too much alcohol or are not acclimated to the temperature are at greater risk of heat stress and should seek and follow medical advice. The major heat stress injuries and illnesses are described here:

Heat Rash is caused by a hot, humid environment and plugged sweat glands. It is a bumpy red rash which itches severely. It is not life-threatening but is very annoying.
Heat Cramps are painful muscle cramps caused by a loss of body salt through excessive sweating. To help prevent heat cramps, drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free fluids while working in a hot environment.
Heat Syncope (pronounced "sin-co-pay") is sudden fainting caused by a reduced blood flow to the head. The victim's skin will be cool and moist and his/her pulse will be weak. Immediate medical attention is needed in the event of syncope.
Heat Exhaustion results from inadequate salt and water intake and is a sign the body's cooling system is not working properly. The victim will sweat heavily, their skin will be cool and moist and their pulse weak. They will seem tired, confused, clumsy, irritable or upset. They may breathe rapidly, even pant, and their vision may be blurred. The victim may strongly argue that they are okay even with these obvious symptoms. If you suspect heat exhaustion, don't let the victim talk you out of seeking immediate medical attention. The heat exhaustion will affect their ability to exercise good judgment. Until medical help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water as long as the victim is conscious. Immediate medical attention is required. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke.
Heat Stroke is the deadliest of all heat stress conditions. It occurs when the body's cooling mechanism has shut down after extreme loss of salt and fluids. Here, the body temperature will rise, the victim's skin will be hot, red, and dry. Their pulse is fast, and they may complain of headache or dizziness. They will probably be weak, confused, and upset. Later stages of heat stroke cause a loss of consciousness and may lead to convulsions. In the event of heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Until help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water if the victim is conscious.

Recognizing the symptoms of heat stress is very important, particularly since the victim may not realize what is happening. If you work alone in a hot environment, develop a "buddy system" so someone will check in on you periodically to look for signs of heat stress.
Preventing heat stress is a matter of controlling the factors that cause it. Use the precautions mentioned in this article, and don't hesitate to seek assistance if you suspect heat stress. Your good health depends on it!
If you have any questions concerning heat stress and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Department of Labor Pursuing H-2A Temporary Non-Immigrant Worker Program

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to obtain a judgment against strawberry grower Fernandez Farms Inc., based in Watsonville, Calif., and its president, Gonzalo Fernandez, requiring payment of nearly $1 million in back wages to approximately 400 farm workers for minimum wage and overtime violations. Additionally, the department seeks more than $1 million in penalties for those wage violations and for egregious violations of the H-2A temporary non-immigrant worker program, which include a failure to hire qualified U.S. workers and allegedly requiring workers to pay a substantial sum of their earnings to cover costs of the program.

"This employer blatantly disregarded the law — underpaying low-wage workers, demanding kickbacks and circumventing rules on proper hiring," said Laura Fortman, deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "Because of the nature of these violations, the department has no choice but to seek a debarment order that prohibits Fernandez Farms Inc. and its president, Gonzalo Fernandez, from applying to the H2-A program for three years, the maximum allowed."

Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division's San Francisco district office found that from May 2010 to December 2011, Fernandez Farms failed to pay workers the proper hourly wage and keep complete and accurate personnel and payroll records. The employer also required each temporary worker to kickback more than $1,600 from their earnings per season, allegedly to cover administrative costs of the program, in direct violation of H-2A program rules. The grower was also found in violation of federal housing safety and health requirements under the H-2A program. Additionally, the employer is alleged to have impeded the department's investigation by intimidating workers and coercing them to hide from or lie to investigators, resulting in an extended investigation.

The H-2A temporary agricultural worker program establishes a means for employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the United States to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The employer must file an application stating that a sufficient number of domestic workers are not available and the employment of these workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States. Employers using the H-2A program must meet a number of specific conditions relating to recruitment, wages, housing, meals and transportation. More information about H-2A requirements is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs26a.htm.


The case is being litigated by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco. For more information about the H-2A program, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
As a reminder, PEO clients receive continuous update and support related to employment tax regulations and obligations, as well as other regulatory changes.   Contact the LL Roberts Group today and find out how a PEO can assist you with your employee administration needs and to ensure your company’s compliance with constantly changing laws and regulations.  Call us (toll free) at 877.878.6463 and ask to speak with an LL Roberts Group PEO Consultant.