Workplace violence in Indiana and across the U.S. is one of OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) primary concerns. Unfortunately, homicides are a large component of violence on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2006, 94 murders occurred in the workplace. The number has decreased from over 200 homicides in the early 1990s, but murder is still one of the major causes of death in the workplace.
Over 2 million Americans are victims of violence in the workplace every year. OSHA suggests several ways to help prevent this violence, which OSHA defines as threats, verbal abuse, assaults, physical abuse and homicide. These recommendations include installing security systems, extra lights and video surveillance cameras.
In addition to installing safety equipment, companies should install an antiviolence program into the safety plan. Employers should also provide training for workers on how to understand the program and how to react in violent situations. Putting the program details in writing in the employee handbook is a good way to ensure all workers receive the information.
Employers should also be aware that certain occupations are at higher risk for workplace violence. All workers who deal with the public, especially regarding money, and in high crime areas, and alone late at night, are at increased risk. Healthcare workers and other employees who provide social services also experience a higher risk of violence on the job. Statistics show that nurses are assaulted on the job as often as police officers. Most of the attacks occur in hospitals, but can also happen on home visits.
People who work away from an office can be faced with workplace violence, too. To help ensure their safety, these employees, such as outside salespeople, cable TV installers and utility workers, should be required to file a daily schedule with their employer, and to check in with home base on a regular basis.
When violent incidents do occur, employees should report it immediately. Companies should also investigate and remedy the problem immediately.
Streaming videos and downloads on preventing workplace violence are available from the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
OSHA Indiana Worker Safety
Every employer in Indiana and across the U.S. should to be informed about potentially violent situations in the workplace, and to be trained on how to avoid and or diffuse these situations.
Workplace violence is a major concern to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) which recommends that each employee take steps to help protect against violence and to help prevent violence in the workplace.
First, an employee needs to be aware of his or her surroundings. When working out in the public, a worker shouldn’t carry a lot of cash or wear expensive or flashy jewelry. Also when out in public, an employee should never enter an unfamiliar situation or location late at night, particularly when alone. Traveling to new places should also be scheduled for daylight hours.
Employees also need to know exactly how to report incidents of violence. Their employers should establish an antiviolence program among their safety procedures. These procedures need to train each worker in the proper process to handling threats of violence on the job and should be practiced just like any other safety drill.
All threats of violence and acts of violence should be reported immediately. Even incidents that don’t seem particularly serious need to be made known to supervisors or managers. Persons who escalate to violent acts often give early warning signs, such as verbal abuse and rage. Therefore, no incident should be considered trivial.
Threats of violence can include maintenance issues. Problems such as a secure door that no longer locks, a broken window, or a missing security camera can negatively affect the workplace, particularly in the area of security. These issues should be reported to a supervisor immediately.
The General Duty Clause of OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Employers must keep a record of every threat and act of violence, sorted by type. The threats need to be investigated immediately and remedied immediately. Failure of any company to follow these procedures regarding hazards in the workplace can open that company to severe penalties from OSHA.
It is especially important that employers update their 2008 Indiana labor law posters. Each year brings a number of changes to the state labor laws, and this year certainly had more than its share, including a new federal minimum wage and a new I-9 form.
The updated list of 2008 Indiana labor law posters is:
- Minimum Wage
- Discrimination Notice
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment Insurance
- OSHA- Health and Safety Protection
- Child Labor Law
- Workforce Development Act
Employers are required to display each of these posters in a prominent location where they can be viewed by both employees and applicants.
In addition, all employers must display updated federal labor law posters including:
- USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
Labor law poster serve as a handy reminder for supervisors and employees alike.
They provide important information on the minimum wage, worker safety, medical leave and child labor laws.
Under both federal and state law, these posters must be updated each time there is a change in legislation.
A change in the federal minimum wage on July 24, 2007 required that the Federal Minimum Wage posters be updated. On that date, the federal minimum wage increased for the first time in more than a decade. The rate went from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour, an increase of 70 cents.
From state to state, there is a wide range of overtime laws and rules governing the minimum wage for employees who receive tips. That’s why each state requires a different set of labor law posters.
The minimum wage for tipped employees varies broadly from one state to the next. So do the overtime laws. These are just some of the items that are covered on each state’s respective labor law posters. Here are a few outstanding examples.
Minimum wage laws for tipped workers like servers often simply follow the federal rate of $2.13 an hour. The idea is that employers need not pay the usual minimum wage because the workers are making up the difference in tips. This is the “tip credit” for employers.
Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, and other states follow the federal rate.
Some states offer just a little more than the federal rate:
- North Carolina, $2.43
- Wisconsin, $2.33
- Massachusetts, $2.63
- Michigan, $2.65
The minimum wage for tipped employees in Kansas is only $1.59.
At the opposite extreme, some states offer little or no tip credit. In these states, employees are paid the same minimum wage, or nearly the same minimum wage, as other workers. They include:
- Washington, none ($8.07 per hour wage starting January 1)
- Colorado, wage for tipped workers $8.07 per hour in 2008
- Hawaii, 25-cent tip credit, wage $7 per hour compared to usual $7.25
Some states just reflect federal law requiring overtime pay after 40 hours, like Michigan and Massachusetts. Nebraska mirrors the federal law, then extends it to any business with 4 or more workers. Kansas overtime doesn’t activate until after 46 hours in a week, while Minnesota’s overtime is triggered at 48 hours.
Under federal overtime law, workers get 1.5 times their normal pay for any hour over 40. Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Arizona, and Georgia are among states with no laws of their own. They’re covered by federal law, which does not guarantee minimum wage for every kind of worker, regardless of number of hours worked.
California offers the most stringent overtime laws. Workers are entitled to overtime after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Working 7 consecutive days guarantees an employee overtime on the 7th day. Double-time (twice the normal hourly rate) kicks in after an employee works 12 hours in a single day, or 8 hours on the 7th consecutive workday.
Colorado workers get overtime after either a 40-hour week or a 12-hour day. In Kentucky, overtime pay activates after 40 hours and on the 7th consecutive workday regardless of how many hours the employee works in that day.
Forklift operators and their employers will be interested to read a recent publication highlighting some of the risks of improper operation of forklifts.
The Indiana worker safety report states that there are approx. 1.5 million forklift operators working in the United States. Forklifts are used across a wide range of industries, and are, according to the OSHA information, are a common cause of fatalities and serious injuries amongst workers.
Forklifts as sometimes called Powered Industrial Trucks, or PITs, they are also called fork trucks.
Federal and Indiana worker safety standards state that forklift operator training should include the following considerations:
Operator’s demonstrated skill
Type of forklift being operated
Hazards in the workplace
Operator’s prior knowledge and skill.
Forklift operators are required to undergo retraining if they are seen to be operating a forklift in an unsafe manner. They are also required to undergo retraining if they are involved in an accident or “near miss.”
The Indiana worker safety article was written by a safety consultant who highlighted the need to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to forklift operators. They article went on to say that although relatively easy to operate, there are a number of hazards associated with forklifts. One of these is that the forklift may become unstable due to an improperly balanced load.
Forklifts are widely used throughout various industries, including manufacturing, where it is common to modify the vehicles by adding attachments. The types of attachments include hoppers, boom extensions, rug rams, drum rotators, drum carriers, drum grippers and cylinder caddies. These attachments can add to the vehicle becoming unstable, especially if they are not accounted for when calculating the load to be carried.
As such, whenever a modification is made, the operation and maintenance plates on the forklift should be altered to reflect its new load bearing capacity.
A load that is carried too far forward towards the fork tips, can cause a forklift to become unstable, even if it is below the maximum load capacity of the machine.
When it comes to Indiana worker safety, hopefully a new program will help. This program, called “Stay Out — Stay Alive,” addresses the threat mines can pose to the public and workers from industries other than mining. Public service announcements, along with visits to schools, scouting groups, and other organizations, will be used to help educate the public on the hazards of mines.
Many people think of mine accidents as highly publicized collapses, but since 1999, over 200 people have died in mine-related accidents. Many people are unaware of the dangers posed by abandoned and active mines. This safety campaign can warn people of the hazards so they will not trespass on mine property.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Richard E. Stickler, maintains, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States.” In addition, as he explained, “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.’”
Although many people think of mine accidents as only collapses, the truth is that most of the mine accidents happen to children, outdoor enthusiasts, and workers in industries other than mining. Sadly, many of these accidents involve children. The children trespass on the property belonging to a mine that has been abandoned. Workers in industries other than mining also may trespass and end up falling into a mind shaft or encountering other hazards.
Recreational enthusiasts sometimes encounter problems on mine properties. If these enthusiasts are driving ATVs, they may encounter piles of loose material that can collapse and cause the vehicle to roll over.
The “Stay Out — Stay Alive” program intends to educate the public on the dangers that mines pose. The best way to prevent mine accidents involving children, outdoor enthusiasts, and workers from other industries is for those people to stay off mine property.
ATVs are finding their way into the workplace, sometimes with tragic and fatal results.
An Indiana worker safety alert points out that without worker training in driving the ATVs and without other safety measures like following manufacturers’ weight guidelines, more deaths and injuries may occur. The All-Terrain Vehicle is showing up in forestry, police work, construction, and farming.
A recent death points to the tragic results of the increased use. A Indiana worker was operating an ATV fitted with an herbicide sprayer on its rear cargo holder when the vehicle flipped on a steep grade, crushing her, according to the local office of OSHA. The office, which investigated the incident, said the manufacturer had mounted the sprayer that was 55 pounds over the weight recommended by the manufacturer.
The worker was operating the ATV on rough ground, uphill, when the vehicle flipped. An attempt to stabilize the machine by standing up failed to do the job, and she tried unsuccessfully to jump out of the way. She was killed when the All-Terrain Vehicle crushed her.
OSHA said ATVs are not meant to carry much cargo. The overweight herbicide sprayer made the vehicle unstable, shifting its weight distribution. That, combined with traveling uphill on rough ground, caused the accident.
Workers are not being trained to operate ATVs in a safe manner, according to OSHA. Its use as a recreational vehicle – often by children – leads workers to assume they need no training in operating the ATV. But they are prone to rollovers.
In the past ten years, according to OSHA, workplace ATV accidents have taken more than 100 lives. Some of the ways to mitigate the risk are wearing helmets, following the manufacturer weight guidelines, and insuring that employees are trained to operate them.
ATVs have a history and perception as a recreational vehicle. In a 24-year period (1982-2004), fatalities overall climbed from 29 to 470. There were 136,100 injuries during that period. In the past ten years, there have been 800,000 injuries.