The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced two grants totaling more than $1.94 million to benefit workers in Massachusetts and Missouri. The emergency grants will help provide a number of job resources to workers who are unemployed due to plant closings. In addition, the DOL has ruled that these workers are eligible for additional assistance under TAA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
Displaced workers in Massachusetts and Missouri will receive a total of $1,940,459 under the two grants. Just last month, the DOL announced a similar grant to benefit workers in Maine, Oklahoma and North Carolina.
The first National Emergency Grant goes to workers in Fall River, Massachusetts affected by the closure of the Quaker Fabric Corp. The $617,515 grant was awarded by the DOL on July 25, 2007.
The second grant, of $1.3 million, goes to workers affected by 3 plant closures in Missouri. The funds will benefit workers from the Briggs & Stratton plant in Rolla, Missouri, the Affinia Brake Parts plant in Cuba, Missouri, and AMF Billiards and Games, Inc. in Bland, Missouri. Altogether, 967 workers who were displaced by these plant closures will benefit from the grant, which has an initial release of $536,069 and was announced in July 2007.
Under the National Emergency Grants, workers will have access to services not covered under the TAA program. Services offered under the grant include assessment, career counseling and job search assistance.
TAA assistance includes career counseling and job training. In most cases, displaced workers are not able to find another well-paying job in a similar field. TAA partially offsets the loss of wages and tuition costs while workers learn new skills to compete in the marketplace. If the workers accept a lower-paying job, TAA provides supplementary payments to partially offset lost wages for up to 24 months.
Quaker Fabric Corp announced its plans to shutter the Fall River, Massachusetts plant on July 2, 2007. More than 900 employees will be out of work, due to this decision. According to company sources, Quaker Fabric began operations in 1945 as a small family-owned fabric mill. Today it is “one of the largest producers of Jacquard upholstery fabric in the world and one of the undisputed leaders in the $2-billion-plus U.S. upholstery fabric industry.” The company also produces and sells specialty yarns, which are then sold to other fabric manufacturers. On its website, the company still lists its headquarters as Fall River, Massachusetts. Quaker Fabric is a publicly traded company with the Nasdaq symbol QFAB.
“This $617,515 grant will provide these workers with re-employment services to help them start new careers in growing industries,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
Briggs & Stratton announced the closing of its Rolla plant in September 2006, putting 678 workers on the unemployment line. Briggs & Stratton is a well-known manufacturer of lawnmowers and engine parts. The company’s mission is to “create superior value by developing mutually beneficial relationships with our customers, suppliers, employees and communities. We will enhance our brand equity and leadership position by developing, manufacturing at low cost, marketing and servicing high value power for a broad range of power products. In pursuing this mission, we will provide power for people worldwide to develop their economies and improve the quality of their lives and, in so doing, add value to our shareholders’ investment.” The company is publicly traded under the Nasdaq symbol BGG.
According to the website, Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest manufacturer of air-cooled power engines for outdoor equipment.
In October 2006, Affinia Group, Inc. announced that it would close the Affinia Brake Parts factor and dislocate 213 workers by closing its Cuba, Missouri plant. The company’s vow to become “faster, smarter, leaner” in 2007 apparently did not include these employees.
In May 2007, AMF Billiards & Games put 76 workers out to pasture with the closure of its plant in Bland, Missouri. AMF bills itself as the “world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers, and a leader in the production of bowling and billiards products.” The company prefers the term “exploring strategic alternatives” to “plant closure”. However, the employees were give 60 days notice that they will be unemployed.
Between August 2006 and May 2007, Rapid Response sessions were conducted at all three plant locations to inform workers of their options in collecting unemployment insurance and TAA assistance.
National Emergency grants are a previous-approved budget item granted in specific situations, by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. In order to qualify for emergency grants, states must show that they have the ability to meet specific guidelines.
A recent Missouri OSHA alert warns employers about an influenza pandemic. Do not mistake the seasonal flu for an influenza pandemic. Influenza or the flu is an annoying but not dangerous seasonal illness.
The seasonal flu that occurs every year during fall and winter, can be a hazard for older people, small children, or people with impaired immune systems, but not for healthy adults. The majority of people develop some immunity to the seasonal flu virus, and normally the consequences are just an uncomfortable illness.
An influenza pandemic is different, as explained in a recent Missouri OSHA alert. In this case, there is a mutation of the virus, and nobody has immunity to it. The proliferation of the virus occurs so quickly that it infects people across the world. The last major influenza pandemic started in 1918, and in 18 months killed more than 50 million of people, many of them healthy young adults. It appeared at a military base in Kansas, and passed fast from person to person all over the world.
The OSHA alert recommends that employers and employees include a plan for a worldwide influenza pandemic in the workplace emergency plans. The plan can include measures to reduce contact between coworkers. Employees can work from home and meetings can be replaced by conference calls. Another measure could be to install drive-thru windows between employees and the public.
The seasonal flu is not a major risk, and is significant to mention that today there is no flu pandemic, and no new variety of the virus has emerged.
Some simple but effective tips will help you to avoid being infected by the flu. These same tips work to stop an influenza pandemic. Tips include staying at home when you are ill, using disposable tissues to cover your mouth when cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently, and not being close to infected people.
Curbing drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace protects workers’ health and safety. It’s also good business.
This is the message of OSHA and the Missouri Drug Free Workplace Alliance, which is one tool that is helping to repair the damage involved in employee drug and alcohol abuse. Five of the tools are setting up a policy, getting supervisors trained in what needs to be done, helping employees with abuse problems, teaching them about the dangers, and testing for drugs.
OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, stresses that the programs, particularly the drug testing aspect, must be what it describes as reasonable, and must take rights to privacy into account.
With a program like the Missouri Drug Free Workplace Alliance, workers can go safely back onto the job, as long as they have backup continuing care as well as regular treatment and services. Employers, according to OSHA, can have considerable influence in helping to guard their workplaces from the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse through these education and help components.
Employers should understand that drug free workplace programs are not mandatory. But they are a good piece in the larger program of guaranteeing safety and health at work. And by doing so, they increase business value and improve the community.
Working under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous, and that danger can be avoided through programs like the Missouri Drug Free Workplace Alliance. The U.S. Department of Labor, for example, notes that drug and alcohol abuse comes at high costs to businesses. Some of the costs are obvious. For example, there is an increase in accidents and mistakes, and absenteeism goes up.
Subtler yet serious problems include lower worker morale and higher sickness rates. OSHA backs the drug free workplace programs, especially in places where safety issues are paramount – like those where equipment is being operated.
A recent Missouri OSHA Alert details recall information about two popular brands of chainsaws. To protect workers, OSHA issued the warning so employers were aware of the problems. When these chainsaws are used heavily, the front plastic handle can break. If this happens, workers may find the chainsaws hard to control, and as a result, they run the risk of severe cuts and injuries.
The manufacturer recall affects two brands of chainsaws that are used in many industries, including construction, landscaping, and lumbering. OSHA wants employers to know that the recall is for four Troy-Bilt chainsaws that have two-cycle gasoline engines and range from 46cc to 55cc. These chainsaws have cutting blades that are either 18-inches or 20-inches long. Craftsman has recalled the “Incredi-Pull” model, which is a two-cycle gasoline powered chainsaw with a 55cc engine and an 18-inch blade.
Employers should make certain that workers stop using these chainsaws immediately until the handle on the saw is replaced. If workers continue to use these saw without replacing the handle, injuries and possibly even death can result.
To receive a safety kit for free, employers need to contact either the manufacturer of their brand of chainsaw or OSHA. The safety kit includes a handle replacement and instructions on how to install this new handle.
This situation needs proper attention since injury reports concerning these chainsaw have been received by OSHA. These reports include injuries such as severe cuts, burns, bruises, and sprains. Due to these injuries, both Troy-Bilt and Craftsman, cooperating with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and OSHA, voluntarily recalled these chainsaws.
The U.S. Product Safety Commission (CPSC) helps the public by trying to protect them from risks considered unreasonable as a result of using one of the more than 15,000 types of consumer products. This commission strives to protect workers, families, and consumers from serious injuries and even death.
Many employers have questions concerning the Missouri OSHA 300 form. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) demands that employers post the 300A form from February 1 to April 30, 2007.
According to OSHA, employers are accountable for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees, which includes exhibiting an OSHA. The US OSHA is charged with guaranteeing the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; creating partnerships; and encouraging frequent process of improvement in workplace safety and health.
Each employer is required to exhibit posters on safety and health including the OSHA 300 poster and the OSHA- It’s the Law poster. In 24 states, an OSHA-approved state agency replaces OSHA. In those states, employers should exhibit a state poster instead of (or in addition to) the OSHA poster.
Many employers are unaware that failure to significantly exhibit the OSHA 300 poster and the 2007 OSHA poster-Job Safety and Health Protection in a work area is a serious OSHA infringement. Employers who fail to meet state and federal mandatory posting standards can be cited and fined by OSHA.
A key factor in increasing safety awareness is fulfilling the OSHA 300 log poster standards. An OSHA booklet says, “Employers are responsible for a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.” OSHA’s role is to guarantee the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.
The purpose of the OSHA 300 log is to evaluate that occurred in 2006 with prominence on preventing future problems. Distinguish the importance of illness prevention in minimizing and averting job-related injuries, illnesses, and losses. It’s important for employers to convey to employees with an OSHA Safety Communication poster that meets all of OSHA’s mandatory posting requirements. Displaying the demanded poster may protect the company from fines. It is also probable to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.