Thousands of accidents, errors, illnesses and injuries happen among workers in the United States every year, according to officials at the Dept. of Labor. Many of these accidents can be prevented and the total number of accidents can be reduced. The use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol are often to blame for these unfortunate, and sometimes fatal, accidents.
The Arizona Drug Free Workplace Alliance is one of the major efforts towards making the work environment a safer place. Unions, contractors, and employees across the state are working together to improve worker health and safety. There is a five part plan to reducing the effects of drugs and alcohol on the workplace environment. They are:
As with any employer plan or program, privacy rights must be respected. Drug testing should be done within reason. Employers have the power to influence the work environment. Any efforts to eliminate the presence of drug or alcohol abuse are steps towards a healthier and safe environment for all involved. If a worker does have a problem with substance abuse, they should be encouraged to seek help.
Avoidable errors and accidents are also costly for employers, and those involved. Missed days of work, medical bills, and certain mistakes can run an employee or an employer some high bills. If a serious accident occurs, no only may the worker be entitled to paid time off, but the other workers may have to pick up overtime hours, or more hired help will be needed. Overtime can get expensive for employers sometimes.
Alcohol and drugs impair the mind. Often, people with these problems have a lack of motivation to do their work. The physical affects of these substances can slow progress. If a person is not working at full potential it can cause work to be done at a pace that is not acceptable. That is another reason why it is important to ensure a drug-free workplace.
According to this Arizona OSHA alert, employers should have a plan in place for an influenza outbreak. This is equally as important as the disaster plans many employers currently have for hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters. Most employers also have also considered what to do if there’s an extended power outage or even a fire.
“As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.” This is what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had to say in a recent announcement that addresses creating disaster plans in preparation for a potential flu pandemic, or a global disease outbreak.
Influenza pandemics occur when a new strain of the virus emerges that no one has had a chance to become immune to. Since no immunity has been built up against the virus, it quickly spreads from person to person worldwide.
The affects of a potential flu pandemic are addressed in an Arizona OSHA alert. The alert also addresses any type of potential global disease outbreak. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration encourages employers to protect their workers and be prepared for an outbreak. According to the OSHA, “As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.”
A contingency plan created by each employer will help prevent or minimize widespread economic disruptions. A pandemic could cause employee absenteeism, interrupt the normal delivery of products, and change patterns in commerce.
A pandemic will affect grocery stores because they’ll be busier and may even run out of necessary supplies like hand sanitizer and tissues. Healthcare facilities may become overcrowded as more and more people get sick.
Tourism and travel will be affected. So will trade, the food supply and consumer buying in general. Ripples from these affects will ultimately spread to and affect investment and financial markets.
Pandemics have the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people. The most recent influenza pandemic, the 1918 Spanish Flu, killed 50 to 100 million people in just 18 months. World War I killed fewer people. Nine million soldiers died and several million civilians also lost their lives.
No new strain of strain of influenza has been discovered, according to the OSHA. There is no risk of a pandemic any time in the near future.
Most of us consider asbestos hazards in the workplace a thing of the past. After all, asbestos has been banned in buildings for many years, and most asbestos has been removed. However, a recent OSHA alert challenges that belief.
A recent Arizona OSHA alert warns that some employees may face daily asbestos hazards in the workplace. The alert specifically addresses the presence of asbestos in the clutches and brakes of older model cars and trucks, which presents a hazard to mechanics and others in the industry.
Most newer cars do not use brakes or clutches that contain asbestos, according to OSHA. However, auto mechanics are often called upon to repair older cars, which exposes them to the hazardous material.
Although OSHA can’t regulate “do-it-yourselfers,” it strongly recommends that consumers allow professionals to tackle any brake or clutch repairs, to minimize asbestos exposure.
The primary danger of asbestos occurs because it easily breaks into tiny, fibrous airborne particles that can be inhaled. These particles are too small to see with the naked eye, but they can cause lasting damage. About 10,000 people in the U.S. die each year of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer.
There is no easy way to determine which brakes and clutches contain asbestos, so employees need to handle every part brake shoe and clutch as if it contained asbestos.
OSHA regulations require that every employer in an affected industry establish written procedures to minimize asbestos hazards. The employer is responsible for training workers in the procedures, and for ensuing that every employee follows them. It’s worth noting that one employee who handles a brake shoe improperly is exposing everyone in the shop to risky levels of asbestos.
Asbestos control measures focus on wetting the asbestos to minimize the number of particles flying through the air, and storing the product in a tightly sealed, labeled bag.
By state law, employees in Arizona have a right to read Arizona OSHA 300 forms. These forms let employees know how safe or unsafe their workplaces are and must be posted annually. OSHA 300 forms are posted from February 1 to April 30. This year’s OSHA 300 re-caps all the work-related injuries and illnesses that happened in the company in 2006. Employees interested in finding out the safety of their own company, or a company they’re considering working for, should always check the results reported in the Arizona OSHA.
OSHA programs deal with occupational safety and workplace hazards. They can be federally run or run by individual states. Plans that are run by individual states must mirror the federal OSHA. Arizona is one of the states that runs its own OSHA program.
Arizona, as well as 22 other states, has chosen to create it own OSHA program that mirrors the federal one. This is the law. States are permitted to have their own OSHA plans, but must make sure their plans are comparable to the federal one.
A few of the other states that also have their own OSHA plans are Oregon, Minnesota, and Nevada.
Like all states with their own OSHA policies, Arizona is responsible for conducting its own safety inspections. Under the federal program, federal officials complete this task. The state also offers occupational safety and health training, as well as educational programs. Consultation to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards is available free to all interested employers. Consultations are conducted on site.
State OSHA policies are always at least as effective as federal policies. This is because the federal government requires that state policies must mirror federal policies. A rigorous approval process guarantees that states that want their own plans are able to run them effectively.
Some states have gone so far as to include options in their OSHA plans that aren’t required by the federal government. In California, for example, standards covering hazards are made public that aren’t addressed in federal OSHA standards.
An Arizona community colleges recently received a grant to train unemployed workers for the 21st century. The grant of nearly 2 million dollars was from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant is one of several in a program across the U.S. to train workers for high-demand occupations, including construction, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and energy.
The Arizona Dept. of Labor grants were given based on a competition between 429 schools.According to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, “Community colleges are vital partners in educating and preparing workers for good jobs in their local area.”
The Arizona Dept. of Labor grant goes to the Central Arizona College for healthcare education programs. The school, located in Coolidge Arizona, has a long history of successful scholarship. The grant is for 1,985,204.
The purpose of the Arizona Dept. of Labor grants is to increase worker skills in the area, especially in high-demand areas such as healthcare. To date, more than 104 awards have been made since the program’s inception in 2005. Skilled workers can enter growing industries and contribute to economic success. The community college’s ability to equip workers with the skills that are most in demand is crucial to our nation’s success.
“The $125 million these 72 community college partnerships will receive under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative is going to help workers succeed in careers in health care, advanced manufacturing and other growing industries,” said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
The program was introduced by President George W. Bush in his 2004 State of the Union Address. The Arizona Dept. of Labor grants are part of over $125 million for 72 community colleges in 34 states awarded under the President’s Community-based Job Training Grants initiative.
“Today’s awards recall the imperative that businesses and the workforce system team up with their region’s community colleges to ensure that workers are armed with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “Community colleges are closely tied to the areas they serve, and they have proven themselves adept at responding to the regional workforce demands of numerous industries.”