If you are an employer, you’re aware that the majority of accidents that occur in a workplace involve the use of drugs. Fortunately, there is a new voluntary program that addresses that problem. Employers would like the Mississippi Drug Free Workplace program.
The Mississippi drug free workplace program is distinctively designed for movable worksites in the construction business. Although no company is required to partake in the programs, they have been known to decrease costs and recover the employee’s drive.
Edwin Foulke, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, states that the program launched in late 2006 “offers construction employers with mobile construction workforces and short term projects the same opportunity for recognition that fixed-site employers receive.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has introduced a myriad of Voluntary Protection Programs (VPPs) over time.
The first VPPs were developed and applied in 1982. They support cooperation between labor, management, unions and government agencies to endorse health and safety in the work environment. Official acknowledgment for dazzling efforts of employers and employees in achieving a high standard of occupational safety and health is given when the OSHA approves a VPP.
This VPP program outlines construction industry apprehensions that the OSHA expects each company to address. These include abolishing many hazards, including fall hazards and exploiting safe trenching techniques.
VPPs set performance-based criteria for supervised safety and health systems. They invite sites to pertain and assess the applicant’s performance. OSHA verification of a VPP plan includes an application review and a meticulous onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.
Assistant Secretary Foulke also states that the program “recognizes those construction companies that should be held up as models of safety and health for the rest of the industry.” The programs have been a successful way to reduce injuries, reduce illnesses, and help eliminate fatalities while fostering a more productive workforce.
A recent partnership promises great things for Mississippi workers with disabilities. The partnership is between the US office of Disability Employment Policy, known as ODEP, and the Society of Human Resource Managers, known as SHRM. Together, these two organizations hopefully will generate more jobs for disabled workers.
Mississippi workers with disabilities probably already realize that as a group, disabled workers are underutilized in the workforce. It is to be hoped that this picture will improve soon, thanks to a partnership formed between a US Department of Labor agency and a large human resource organization.
The other partner, SHRM, has been around since 1948. This organization is international and has chapters in more than 100 countries. With over 200,000 members and 550 chapters, SHRM has a mission to provide human resource professionals with resources that are essential and comprehensive.
Although the Mississippi Department of Labor will still provide Mississippi disabled workers with several services, the ultimate result of this new partnership should be additional opportunities and resources for disabled workers. For instance, training and education will be part of the partnership’s target, along with technical assistance and outreach.
What’s also important is that this alliance will work to promote dialogue on the national level concerning employment for disabled workers. This segment of the working population still is not utilized to its fullest potential in the current work force.
What will happen to the services Mississippi disabled workers receive through the Mississippi Department of Labor?
Workers will continue to be able to access the services available through the Mississippi Dept. of Labor. This new partnership will eventually provide disabled workers with more resources and opportunities. Because disabled workers still are underutilized in the workforce, this partnership should help. Training, along with outreach and technical assistance, are just a few of the targets of the new collaboration.
If you’re an employer, now is a good time to update your Mississippi USERRA poster. It’s important that your workers know about all the changes and updates to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
The final USERRA regulations were recently released by the Dept. of Labor. The newest regulations reinforce the old regulations that cover the job rights for veterans and members of the reserve.
The purpose of the USERRA is to protect service members, clarify the law, and improve enforcement. Soldiers wishing to make a claim under USERRA can get assistance from the Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS). VETS is a division of the US Dept. of Labor.
Under recent regulations, veterans and members of the Army, Navy, or Air Force Reserve have their civilian jobs protected up to five years while they serve their country. This period is cumulative. If an employee serves two years and then another three years, he or she is still covered.
There is a significant exception to this regulation that employers and their workers should note. A soldier whose initial enlistment lasts for more than five years may still have his or her civilian job protected as long as the basic eligibility criteria is covered. The new regulations specifically state that the timing, frequency, duration or nature of the individual’s service is irrelevant.
Employees who serve are entitled to the same job, salary and benefits they would have achieved if they had remained in their civilian jobs, when they return from military service. In many cases, employees are also entitled to the annual salary increases or cost-of-living raises they would have received if they had remained working in their civilian jobs.
In several test cases, returning veterans were awarded promotions that they would have received based on length of service, if they had not served in the military.
Under the most recent USERRA regulations, federal government employees are also eligible to receive Dept. of Labor assistance in processing claims under USERRA.
Whether they’re old, abandoned surface mines or rocky quarries, they have something in common: they pose a deadly threat to trespassers.
They’re also a risk to Mississippi worker safety.
According to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA), “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and 14,000 active operations throughout the U.S. Many of them contain hidden hazards, and for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly.”
So the MSHA is warning everyone – children, swimmers, rock climbers, workers, hikers, and bicyclists to “Stay Out – Stay Alive.” The new safety push is warning about the dangers posed to workers and outdoors people alike. Children are being warned. Experts in the mine safety field are visiting schools. They’re going to scout groups. They’re attending meetings of organizations to talk to children about the risk.
The common perception of a mine accident is the disaster in the news. But most mine accidents happen to children and others on mining property. The program warns against accidentally trespassing on the sites, whether you’re there to work or to play.
Surface mines are popular sites for all terrain vehicle (ATV) users. The ATV drivers may find themselves caught in a deadly rollover when heaps of old leavings or stockpiles collapse beneath them.
Quarries pose another form of hazard. Although they may seem harmless on the surface, beneath it swimmers might become entangled in old machinery left behind in the wake of a shutdown. There are sharp objects underwater to contend with. And even the best swimmer may succumb to the cold and surprisingly deep waters. Not only the water poses a hazard. Around the edges, rock ledges may crumble and slopes are slippery.
Since 1999, mine-related accidents have killed more than 200 people, and many of them have been children and recreational users. And workers unconnected to the mining industry may fall down mineshafts or suffer accidents on the property.
According to a recent OSHA alert, a potential influenza pandemic could wreak havoc on our country and the global economy, kill thousands upon thousands of people, and disrupt the social structure.
The Mississippi OSHA alert warns about the threat of influenza, a workplace hazard many of us don’t even think about. When we think about the flu, the first thought that comes to mind is the seasonal version of it that is unpleasant but not fatal to healthy adults. Only those with compromised immune systems, the elderly or children could die from the seasonal strain we all know about.
The seasonal strain is rarely fatal because most people develop an immunity to the most common forms of the virus. If a pandemic were ever to occur, a new strain of the virus would hit the public and no one would be able to fight it off. It could take months to develop a vaccine, in which that time many will get sick and die.
This is what happened in the 1950s. In 1957, an influenza pandemic was quickly contained but before it was, one million people died all over the world.
The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed one million people every week for 25 weeks. Up to 20% of the world’s population got the virus and between 2.5% and 5% died within hours of contracting it. The AIDS virus, by comparison, killed 25 million people in 25 years.
Of concern is the avian influenza, also known as the bird flu. It occurs in wild birds and can spread to domestic fowl like turkeys and chickens. If the bird flu mutates, it can spread to humans. All it takes is for one person to become infected for the virus to spread since the flu is spread from person to person. If this were ever to happen, a pandemic would occur.
The OSHA wants the public to know that there is no new version of the flu virus, neither is there any current risk of a pandemic.
If an influenza pandemic happened, says the OSHA, the worst-case scenario would be high death levels. The best-case scenario would be an unusually severe flu season.