Your region can “get WIRED.”
WIRED is the name of a job and economic development grant program now in its third round of competition. Started in February of 2006, the grants, of up to $5 million each per region, target those places in each state and territory that have historically been economically stagnant or suffering from high jobless rates.
A Georgia unemployment grant would be very helpful to the state’s unemployed workers. An Indiana unemployment grant from the second round of competition was recently awarded. It will benefit workers, especially those in the northern part of the state, who have traditionally been forced to watch improving national employment trends pass them by.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the third round recently. The WIRED Initiative, according to Secretary Chao, recognizes that local economies “often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.” WIRED brings different organizations together to help prepare workforces by supplying them, she said, with “the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” Organizations brought into the mix may be foundations, economic development groups, businesses, community colleges, and universities.
The full name of the program is the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative. It was established by the Labor Department in February of 2006, starting when it selected 13 regions nationwide to receive the grants designed to jump-start stalled economies. The competition is stiff but the financial benefits are worth the effort. Notification of the fourth round began with letters from Labor Secretary Chao to every governor. Because the grants are regional, each governor is allowed to apply for two grants, each worth $5 million. The regions involved must show other sources of funding they receive. Those sources may be private, state, or regional.
Nationwide, the employment rate is around 4%, considered good by economists, who usually rank anything below 5% as a job shortage. The average jobless rate for positions requiring high skill levels or a college degree is even lower nationwide, around 1.9%.
The Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Michael L. Thurmond has created an innovative training initiative called Georgia Works to bridge the training gap between unemployed workers and employers. In the initiative, an unemployed worker laid off from a previous job and now receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits can receive on-the-job training while continuing to receive UI benefits payments. The worker will even receive a special training allowance to help with expenses such as work clothes, tools, transportation, and childcare, which are part of training for, and maintaining, a steady job.
Things are busy around the Peachtree State these days. According to the Georgia Dept. of Labor, healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the state.
Eight of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations are in healthcare. The majority of the jobs in this industry require less than four years post-high school education. It is projected that by the year 2014, nearly 20% of new jobs created will be in the healthcare sector. It is obvious to see why so much money is being awarded to train workers with the necessary skills in the healthcare industry.
Nevertheless, the Georgia unemployment rate is approximately 4% but this may be a perfect time for job hunting. The Georgia Works program might be the first place to look for that new job.
Employers in the Georgia unemployment initiative provide up to 24 hours of training per week for as many as eight weeks. At that time the worker will received a training certificate proving new skills and may even land a job. The training period comes at no cost to the employer.
Of the initiative, Thurmond said, “Georgia Works enables businesses to audition potential employees and it helps the unemployed gain access to training and, potentially, new jobs. What this does is create a transitional period between unemployment and employment.”
The Georgia unemployment initiative provides an excellent opportunity for new, small, and expanding businesses to increase their labor force at little cost. Larger, established companies benefit, too, by the minimal training cost expended and reduced tax burden. Enrollment in the program is open to for-profit and non-profit businesses alike.
The trainee benefits from the program with added skills, training, and experience while expanding his or her network of contacts. Participation in the program allows the trainee an opportunity to market his or her skills to a potential new employer while getting the chance to turn the training session into permanent employment.
The casual explorer or the absent-minded worker is exposed to many perils. One that might surprise you is abandoned mines. Most of the mines have hidden shafts that drop hundreds of feet. Many people have been fatally injured when they stepped on a rotten board and fell down the mineshaft.
With warmer weather here, The US Dept. of Labors Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, has planned the public safety campaign “Stay Out — Stay Alive.” The program is designed to alert workers and outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers of intruding on mine property.
In addition to shafts, a number of other risks can be found in mine property, like flooded sections, poisonous snakes and spiders, and deadly gases. In old mines, many shafts are only covered by fragile boards. Often the boards are rotten or decayed.
Georgia worker safety is part of the MSHA program. In the past, a lot of fatal mishaps have involved children and outdoor enthusiasts. Children frequently enter mines to play, and sometimes the end is tragic. Workers in unrelated industries may fall down shafts or have other accidents, if they are not cautious.
In the United States, there are 14,000 active mines and about 500,000 abandoned mines throughout the country, according to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. “Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
Many federal and state agencies, companies, individuals and private organizations are active partners in the campaign “Stay Out–Stay Alive.” During 2006, several people suffered injuries in surface and underground mine operations, and at least 30 people died, with ages starting in 17.
Public service announcements designed to alert people from accidental trespass of mine property, are included in the MSHA program.
Housekeeping is frequently disregarded as a cause of slips, trips and falls, according to a recent Georgia OSHA Alert. Good sanitary conditions are one of the most important methods to prevent accidents in any place of work. That includes clean floors in aisles, storerooms, service rooms, and all the places were employees execute their tasks.
In the maintenance of the building, some minor but important things must be controlled. Loose boards, holes and protruding nails in the floors must be repaired, and all the splinters should be removed. Corridors must be free of obstruction, clean and dry. Permanent aisles must be marked.
Georgia OSHA requires that employers have a good safety program to prevent slips, trips and falls. The aisles must be sufficiently wide to allow handling equipment, should have enough space for two people to pass, and must permit the normal flow of people in case of emergency.
Many people who were injured slipped, tripped or fell when trying to leave the building in a rush, according to the report.
The numbers show that 15 percent of fatal workplace accidents are caused by slips, trips and falls. OSHA also mentions that the majority of general industrial accidents are slips, trips or falls. Such accidents are the second cause of fatalities, only exceeded by motor vehicle accidents. That shocking reality could be corrected with easy measures. The most recent OSHA standards apply to all permanent workplaces, with the exception of agricultural, domestic, and mining work.
Updating posters with warnings about slips, trips and falls, is a good advice for employers. Prominently displaying posters in every work area is a good way to remind employees to care for their workplace and to alert someone if they detect a potential danger related to bad housekeeping. OSHA standards require that every workroom, and every aisle and corridor, must be in a clean and dry condition. Drainage must be maintained in the case of wet processes, and carpets, gratings and platforms must be provided.
A Georgia OSHA Alert was issued recently about a recall done in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, also known as CPSC. Along with the two manufacturers, Troy-Bilt and Craftsman, this recall affects two brands of chainsaws that pose a safety threat to workers. In both cases, the chainsaws become difficult to control when the front plastic handle breaks while the saw is being used. Both Troy-Bilt and Craftsman voluntarily recalled these chainsaws.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects consumers from what are unreasonable risks of injury or death resulting from any of the more than 15,000 types of consumer products. The nation pays a high price for incidents resulting from consumer products. Incidents involving consumer products result in deaths, injuries and damage to property. The cost exceeds $700 billion each year. CPSC works to protect workers, consumers, families, and children from fire, chemical, mechanical, and electrical hazards posed by products.
In this case, the recalled chainsaws are four models produced by Troy-Bilt. These chainsaws have gasoline-powered, two-cycle engines from 46cc to 55cc. The chainsaws have cutting blades measuring either 18 inches or 20 inches. The recalled Craftsman chainsaw is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This chainsaw has a gasoline-powered, two-cycle engine that is 55cc. The blade is 18 inches long.
Reports of injuries have been made to OSHA concerning these models. These reports include workers receiving severe lacerations, sprains, burns, and bruises when the handle breaks and the chainsaws become difficult to control. Employers should contact the manufacturer of their chainsaw or OSHA for safety kits containing replacement handles and installation instructions.
Until the safety kit is received and the new handle is installed correctly, workers should not use these chainsaws. If workers continue to use the chainsaws without replacing the handle, they run the risk of injuries or death. Employers can protect the health of their workers by making certain these chainsaws are not used until they have the proper safety features installed.