There have been a number of changes to the New Mexico labor law posters in the past 12 months, which every employer should be aware of.
Employers must keep current New Mexico labor law posters on display, where they can be seen by all employees (and in some cases, all applicants.) Employers who fail to do so are subject to citations, fines and/or penalties.
OSHA – Health and Safety Protection
New Ombudsman Workers’ Compensation
This is even more critical for New Mexico employers, where the state’s minimum wage will increase on January 1, 2008 – making all existing labor law posters obsolete. This year the New Mexico Department of Labor is also requiring all employers to display a poster on the Ombudsman Workers’ Compensation law, which is new.
During 2007 many changes occurred to labor laws. As 2007 comes to an end, employers will need to update their labor law posters. New Mexico employers are affected by these changes, and need to be aware of them.
Under state law, the officially required 2008 New Mexico labor law posters are:
- OSHA – Health and Safety Protection
- Ombudsman Workers’ Compensation
- Workers’ Compensation
- Minimum Wage
- Discrimination Notice
By law every New Mexico employer is required to display these posters.
In addition, under federal law, employers must display these posters:
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
Both state and federal law require that every employer prominently display the posters in an area where they can been seen by every employee. Popular locations are a bulletin board, near the time clock or in the break room.
The most common reason for employers to update posters includes statute changes, especially to minimum wage laws. In just the past few months, employers in New Hampshire, Nevada and Maine have updated their labor law posters as the state minimum wages changed. The most recent increase was on October 1, 2007 when the New Hampshire minimum wage increased to $6.50 per hour.
A number of states across the country enacted an increase to their state minimum wage during 2007. Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Hampshire are among them.
Minimum wage wasn’t the only law that changed during 2007. Two states established new no-smoking bans.
Illinois’s new law banned smoking in almost every work environment, including casinos, restaurants and bars. In Ohio, a tough new ban on smoking at work was also enacted. Businesses were then required to post new no-smoking signs at all entrances.
Alaska amended its Child Labor Laws regarding the buying and selling of cigarettes. The law already prohibited anyone under the age of 19 from buying cigarettes, but concern arose regarding teens working in gas stations and convenience stores that sell cigarettes. Part of the concern was that these teens when unsupervised might sell cigarettes to friends who were underage. The law was changed, therefore, to also prohibit anyone under the age of 19 from selling cigarettes.
All of the changes that occurred during 2007, and those slated to occur in 2008 will require employers to update their labor law posters. If the posters are not updated, the employer could be fined.
A large number of changes over the year influenced the poster requirements. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increased the federal minimum wage for the first time in close to a decade. Seventy cents was added to $5.15 to raise the minimum to $5.85 per hour. A number of states that connect their minimum wages to the federal minimum raised their minimum wages on that day, too.
These states will increase their minimum wage again in 2008 when the federal minimum gets another 70 cent boost. On July 24, 2008, the federal minimum will go from $5.85 to $6.55. The states that bumped their minimum wage with the previous federal increase will bump their minimum wage again.
More than a dozen states will increase their minimum wages on January 1, 2008. These include Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Montanan and Ohio. The lowest rate to be increased is in Montana, where the state minimum wage will increase from $6.15 per hour to $6.26. In Missouri and New Mexico, the state rate will go to $6.50.
After the increase, the nation’s highest minimum wage will be in Washington state, where the minimum wage will be $8.07 per hour. Both California and Massachusetts plan increases to $8.00 per hour, while the state rate in Oregon goes to $7.95.
A New Mexico Worker Safety alert was recently issued by New Mexico OSHA in response to the dangers posed by All-Terrain Vehicles in the workplace. All-Terrain Vehicles, also known as ATVs, are growing in popularity in the workplace, and as a result, injuries are increasing.
Although ATVs may look sporty and seem fun to drive, they actually are prone to accidents such as roll-overs. These accidents can lead to severe injuries and, in some cases, death. Employers who utilize ATVs in their workplaces need to make certain employees follow all the necessary safety procedures.
For instance, employees should be trained on the proper operation of an ATV before driving the vehicle. All drivers should wear helmets to protect their heads in case of an accident. Moreover, the guidelines issued by the manufacturer for the safe operation of the vehicle should be followed.
Most injuries that are the result of ATV accidents happen while the vehicles are being used recreationally. As more businesses start to utilize ATVs, though, the number of accidents that happen in the workplace is growing. ATVs are used in industries such as facilities management, construction, agriculture, and law enforcement.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report stating that in 1982, deaths caused by ATV accidents totaled 29. In 2004, the number of deaths caused by ATV accidents rose to 470. In the last decade, more than 800,000 ATV-related injuries were reported. These numbers only reflect injuries that happened while the ATVs were being used recreationally.
Using ATVs in the workplace poses similar risks. Accidents involving ATVs used in the workplace have resulted in over 100 deaths in the last ten years. The alert issued by New Mexico OSHA contains guidelines for ATV usage. These guidelines are for any vehicle that is motorized and is operated by a driver who straddles the seat while steering with handlebars.
The forklifts can enhance their usefulness with the installation of some accessories. These attachments can be boom extensions, drum grippers, hoppers, cylinder caddies, rug rams, drum rotators, and drum carriers. In the manufacturing industry is common to see some of these changes.
Any accessory installed modifies the safety rating of the forklift, and must be know by employers and workers. When they add attachments to the equipment, they alter the maintenance and operating instructions. The manufacturer must approve these changes and the instructions labels must be update to show the new safety procedures to be follow. For example, if we add accessories we reduce the forklift total capacity to load. The fork extension and the weight of the attachment is considers part of the load.
According to New Mexico OSHA standards, periodically must be evaluate the operator skills. They are also required to retrain from time to time. If the worker operates the forklift in a negligent manner or is involved in an accident, they are required to undergo forklift instruction again.
The incorrect operation of forklifts is the topic of a recent state publication. In the US there are about 1.5 million of forklift operators. Also known as fork trucks or Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs), the publication said that forklifts are one of the most common sources of hurts and even deaths among employees.
Although these machines are simple to use, they are a danger at work. The safety consultant author of the OSHA article recommends some ways to minimize injuries and fatalities with forklifts. The most common cause of accident is the forklift tipping over because of unbalanced load.
To reduce accidents, the OSHA standards require a special training of operators, considering four main factors. They are the operator skills, the operator’s prior knowledge, the type of forklift to operate and the dangers in the workplace.
The rules that cover the rights of veterans to have their civilian jobs protected have at last been further clarified. The final USERRA regulations have been released recently by the Department of Labor.
Those covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 are veterans and members of the reserve and National Guard. The new regulations will provide clarification of some points of the regulations that sometimes cause confusion, with federal government employees being added to the list of those covered by the rules.
Why not use this opportunity to make sure that your employer is displaying an up to date New Mexico USERRA poster? This will ensure that all employees have access to the most recent and correct information.
If you are a member of the reserve Army, Navy or Air Force, or a returning veteran a member of the National Guard, then you should make yourself aware of how these final regulations will affect you. One area you should be aware of is your entitlement to have your civilian job protected while you are away serving in the military.
If you are away for a period of up to five years, your employer must keep your civilian job open for your return. In addition, after several test cases involving returning veterans, you may be entitled to any benefits that you would of receive as due course, if you had not been required to leave your job. These include time of service related promotions and annual pay increases or cost of living increases.
The five year period away from your job is cumulative, so if you serve for two years, and then a period of three years, your employer still has to hold open your civilian job. Training periods with the National Guard or Reserve training is not taken into account within the five year period.