North Dakota employers need to be aware that many changes in labor laws occurred during 2007, and will occur in 2008. As a result, these employers will need to update their labor law posters. The coming New Year is a good time to ensure posters are current.
One of the major changes during 2007 related to minimum wage. The federal minimum wage, as a result of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, went from $5.15 to $5.58 per hour. Nearly a dozen states increased their minimum wage on the same day.
Also, during the 2007, several other states, including Utah, Washington, Oregon, and West Virginia increased their state minimum wage.
The complete list of 2008 North Dakota labor law posters that every employer should have includes:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Minimum Wage
- Workers’ Compensation
In addition, federal law requires all employers in North Dakota to display up-to-date copies of the following posters:
- USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- IRS Withholding Notice
- Payday Notice
- Anti-Discrimination Notice
- Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Family and Medical Leave 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 changes in 2008 will require employers to update their posters during the year. The federal minimum wage will jump from $5.85 to $6.55 on July 24, 2008. On the same day, the states that raised their minimum with the last bump in the federal minimum wage will enact increases 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 rates 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.
Smoking in the workplace was a change that took place in 2007, in some states. Both Illinois and Ohio enacted new, tough laws banning smoking at work. Ohio employers had to post no-smoking signs at every workplace, at every entrance. In Illinois, the ban on smoking extends to nearly every place of employment, including casinos, bars and restaurants.
In Alaska a smoking related change was made to the Child Labor Laws regarding selling cigarettes. The law currently bans anyone under the age of 19 from buying cigarettes, but until October, teens could work at establishments such as gas stations and convenient stores which sold cigarettes. Concern arose that these teens when working alone, could sell cigarettes to underage pals. Partly due to this concern, the law was amended to also prohibit anyone under the age of 19 from selling cigarettes.
If companies and businesses haven’t already made the relevant changes to their 2008 labor law posters, they should do so as soon as possible. If the information isn’t updated, the employers could be considered in violation of the law and subject to a fine.
Accessories can enhance the usefulness of forklifts, but they can also pose risks if not installed properly. A recent state publication addresses the incorrect operation of forklifts. There are more than 1.5 million forklifts in use in nearly ever industry in the nation. Forklift accidents are one of the most common types of industrial accident in the US, resulting in 10,000 deaths each year.
That’ s the conclusion of a recent North Dakota worker safety report on these handy little trucks, also called Powered Industrial trucks, PITs, and fork trucks. Some of the attachments commonly used in industry include hoppers, drum grippers, boom extensions, rug rams and drum carriers. It is very common to see such attachments, especially in the manufacturing industry.
Employers and worker must be aware of how any accessories modify the forklift’s load capacity and performance. Accessories may also change the fork truck’s maintenance routine and operating procedures. When an accessory is installed, the manufacturer must approve the changes. Once that is accomplished, the instruction labels and decals will be modified to reflect the truck’s new capacity. The weight an accessory is always counted as part of the forklift’s load, therefore, it reduces the total capacity.
According to North Dakota OSHA standards, the forklift operator’s skills must be evaluated regularly. Every forklift operator, no matter how experienced, should be retrained from time to time. Any time an operator is involved in an accident or has a close call, they should receive additional training automatically.
Although forklifts are easy to operate, they represent a significant danger in the workplace. According to a safety consultant, there are a number of ways to minimize forklift injuries and fatalities. Unbalanced loads cause forklifts to tip over, resulting in many accidents and injuries.
To reduce accidents, the OSHA standards require special training for operators. A good forklift training program will take four factors into consideration. These include the operator’s skills, the operator’s level of prior knowledge, and the type of forklift. The training program should also address any specific hazards found in that particular workplace.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently released the final North Dakota USERRA regulations. USERRA is the acronym of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The 1994 law protects the rights of veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve. In particular, the USERRA allows soldiers to return to their civilian jobs after up to 5 years of leave for military duty.
Under the USERRA, soldiers are entitled to the same job, salary and benefits as if they had not been absent. Several test cases have established that when promotions are given based on seniority, returning veterans are entitled to the promotion they would have received, had they never enrolled. They are also entitled to annual salary increases or cost-of-living increases that have occurred in their absence.
With the introduction of the final USERRA regulations, this is an excellent time for every employer to update his or her North Dakota USERRA poster. According to the Department of Labor, every company is requited to display the USERRA poster, even if the regulations don’t apply to any of their employees.
Recently, employees of the federal government were included in the list of those entitled to receive assistance from the Department of Labor, when they present claims related to USERRA. There is a division within the Department of Labor, known as the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service that assists veterans with claims related to the USERRA regulations.
Returning members of the armed forces including Army, Navy or Air Force Reserve members have a 5-year period of protection for their civilian jobs. In general, the regulations state that a soldier may take a total of 5 years away from work for active duty, and still return to their civilian job. For example, a soldier who was on active duty for 3 years could go on active duty another 2 years at a later date, and still have his or her job protected.
Employers may not realize the true cost of neglecting to instigate a work place safety program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA oversees safety in the workplace in North Dakota, and their recent reports do not paint a pretty picture regarding the statistics for work place accidents.
The cost of accidents in the work place can be high for employers. There may be lost work days, which may result in having to bring in extra staff, law suits, and medical bills. Add to that the loss of goodwill that may occur between the workers and their employer and you can see why a comprehensive work safety program could be beneficial to everyone.
The North Dakota worker safety statistics show just how common place work related injuries are. During 2005 there were 270,890 reported back injuries, with over half a million workers suffering from strains, sprains or tears. In total, there were 255,750 reported incidents of workers falling in their place of employment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. Occupational and Health Administration, or OSHA is called to investigate millions of work place injuries across the United States, including North Dakota.
Employer and Worker education is the key to good work place safety practices. Both workers and employers should be made aware of safety procedures on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is by instigated a worker safety program, and OSHA provides an excellent resource pack to help with this.
The OSHA Workplace Safety Pack includes information on workplace ergonomics as well as three posters. These are the Workstation Safety Tips Poster, the slips, Trips and Falls poster and the Lifting Safely Poster. All the information in this pack is presented in a clear and easy to understand manner.
There were 4,214,200 injuries in the workplace throughout the United States during the year 2005. Tragically, of these 5,702 were fatal injuries. There were 1,234,700 working days lost due to accidents at work. These figures relate to the private sector only.
Each spring, Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada. This is a good time express appreciation for the people who are great contributors to our organization. Flowers, candies, and of course, a delicious lunch, are always welcome by anyone. But, why not add one more gift?
Why not establish a day each year to review office safety?
Maybe some employees are suffering health problems from working on computers. This is very common in the modern office, with plenty of computers. Computers improve the efficiency of the business and the workers, but they also produced some new illness in the workforce. That is the case with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a pain in the joints of the hands and fingers, that develops in those who type for long hours as a routinely task. Eyestrain is another problem, a consequence of looking at the computer screen for long hours. Dizziness or headaches also increased with the use of computers.
North Dakota worker safety should be a priority. That is what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is recommending to every business and in any workplace.
Housekeeping is one activity directly related to the safety of the workers. A place of work that is dirty, cluttered or wet, increases the risk of accidents, and also negatively affects the working environment.
The corridors, passageways and hallways must be free of obstacles, and in good sanitary condition.
All of the wiring should be hidden. The computers and other equipment have lots of wires. It’s an annoyance for anyone to work in a place full of cables. Frequently the wires become an obstacle and many workers have stumbled because of them.
Today can be your starting day. Let’s write in your calendar “Office Safety Day”. Every action to improve the working conditions of your staff will create better results for your organization. Your workers will appreciate that you keep them in mind.