December brings holiday cheer, mistletoe, and the time for employers to update their South Carolina labor law posters.
There are a number of changes to the 2008 South Carolina labor law posters. Every employer is required by law to display these posters in a prominent position, where they can be seen by employees and applicants alike. Popular choices are the break room, near the time clock or in a back hallway.
Employers who fail to display posters face penalties and hefty fines.
It is especially important that employers display the updated 2008 South Carolina labor law posters, since the 2007 brought 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage, from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, in July.
In 2007, the first minimum wage increase in more than a decade affected nearly all South Carolina workers. This is because South Carolina is one of only 5 states without a minimum wage at the state level. The other states without a minimum wage are Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee. An additional 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage is scheduled for July 24, 2008 when the rate goes from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour. On July 24, 2009 the final 70-cent increase will take the federal rate from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour.
Even with the most recent increase in the federal minimum wage, more than 50% of the states have minimum wages that are higher than the federal rate. And, at least 26 states will increase the state minimum wage again in 2008.
For 2008, the South Carolina labor law posters are:
- Right-to-Work Laws
- Payment of Wages
- Child Labor
- OSHA – Health and Safety Protection on the Job
- Discrimination Notice
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment Insurance
These posters must be displayed by every employer in the state.
In addition, federal law mandates a number of posters having to do with labor laws on the national level. These include:
- 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
The labor laws covered by labor law posters vary widely from state to state within the country. Overtime laws and the minimum wage rates for tipped employees are two areas of labor law that vary widely from one state to another.
The federal rate for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. Kentucky, Nebraska, and Indiana follow that rate. Kansas is only $1.59. Massachusetts is $2.63 and Michigan is $2.65. Wisconsin is at $2.33 and North Carolina at $2.43. Connecticut hotel and restaurant workers get overtime on the 7th consecutive workday.
Tipped workers get the normal minimum wage in Washington State – $8.07 per hour on January 1. In Hawaii, tipped workers get $7 an hour compared to the normal rate of $7.25. Colorado’s rate for tipped workers is going to $4.02 in 2008.
Some states have no overtime laws of their own, and are covered by the federal law. Others have passed laws mirroring or extending the federal laws.
Federal law requires workers be paid an overtime rate of 1.5 times their normal hourly wage for any hour over 40. Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Delaware, and Idaho have no overtime laws. Federal law is operable.
Nebraska mirrors the 40-hour federal rule, but extends it to all businesses with 4 or more workers. Others mirroring the 40-hour guide are Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois.
Overtime does not kick in until after 46 hours in Kansas, or 48 hours in Minnesota.
In Kentucky, workers get overtime after 40 hours and on the 7th consecutive workday regardless of the number of hours put in on that day. Colorado employees receive overtime after a 40-hour week or a 12-hour day.
California workers can get overtime for more than 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or the 7th day of 7 consecutive days.
A recent article by a safety adviser examines forklift hazards in the workplace. Under OSHA standards, forklift operators should be regularly evaluated and retrained. Forklifts are one of the most common pieces of equipment used in industry.
There are about 1.5 million forklift operators in the United States, according to a recent South Carolina worker safety report. Forklifts are used in virtually every industry. Forklifts are also called Powered Industrial Trucks, PITs, or fork trucks. Many injuries and even deaths each year result from improper forklift use.
Anytime a forklift driver uses the fork truck in an unsafe way, he or she should be retrained. This includes retraining after every accident or “close call.” A good forklift training program will take several factors into account. One of these factors is the operator’s level of experience and demonstrated skill. Another is the type of forklift being used. Training should specifically address any hazards in the workplace.
A recent South Carolina worker safety article demonstrates the importance of operator training to minimize injuries and fatalities. Many people are lulled into a false sense of security because the forklift controls are easy to handle. However, fork trucks cause many deaths each year.
Instability due to improper load balance is one of the major causes of forklift accidents. An operator should never add more weight to the back of the forklift to balance the load and make the truck more stable. This is a very common mistake, but it can easily result in a serious accident. Adding weight to the rear of the forklift changes the center of gravity and often causes the truck to flip over, sometimes with deadly results.
Forklift loads must be moved slowly. If the steering feels light, that’s a sign that the truck is unbalanced. An unbalanced fork truck is difficult to control and can easily flip over.
Attachments are often added to forklifts, especially in the manufacturing industry. Every attachment must be approved by the manufacturer in writing, prior to use. Attachments change the safety rating of the fork truck. Once the manufacturer approves the addition, new tags or decals will be issued for the forklift.
The new public safety campaign titled “Stay Out – Stay Alive” is designed to worn workers and those who love the outdoors about how dangerous it can be to trespass on mine property. This warning comes straight from the MSHA, Mine Safety and Health Administration. Now that the weather is heating up, it is time to remind everyone to be safe when out enjoying the weather.
South Carolina worker safety can be protected if people remember “Stay Out – Stay Alive.” Workers, rock climbers, hikers and other explorer types should steer clear of active or abandoned mines. Since 1999, more that 200 people lost their lives in mine related accidents. Wandering children have been victims because they were playing in a restricted area. Other victims include workers of other professions have had accidents on mine property, including falling into shafts.
According to the Assistant Secretary of Labor Mine for Safety and Health, Richard E. Stickler, the United States has approximately a half million abandoned mines. Besides that, there are an additional 14,000 active ones.
The “Stay Out – Stay Alive,” campaign is in its ninth year running. Several private organizations, state and federal agencies, and businesses have played a role in its continuation. With at least 30 fatal injuries occurring last year, the need to promote mine safety is still relevant today.
As part of the program, public service announcements are made to warn people about mine property trespassing. Federal mine safety and health professionals visit schools and inform the youth about the dangers of playing on mine properties.
A mine shaft is not something that you can easily spot from a distance. They are usually covered by rotten or decayed boards and can’t support much weight. These shafts can cause someone to drop hundred of feet below ground. Even if a person doesn’t suffer from a fall, deadly gases, poisonous snakes or flooding can harm or kill an unsuspecting worker or child.
Overloading is one of the principal causes of accidents with All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), according to a recent South Carolina OSHA alert. These vehicles have limited capacity for passengers and equipment, and overloading them can cause injuries or even fatalities. Most ATVs were manufactured to carry only the driver, with no passengers. They have fat tires, with low pressure, and tend to flip over when they turn sharply.
This is very important to know because, according to the South Carolina Worker Safety alert, ATVs are increasingly being involved in lethal accidents in workplaces. Years ago, they were only used for recreational purposes. But today in many industries, are used as a working device. Some examples are farming, law enforcement, facility maintenance or construction.
In the past 9 years, 113 people died in ATV accidents in workplaces and more were injured. The number of people hurt rose to 1625 in the last 9 years. This represents an annual average of more than 180. Some of the employees became seriously injured and lost several days of work.
As it has been said previously, one of the major causes is the overloading of the ATVs. Many people forget that these vehicles are fun and attractive, but not easy to drive, and unstable. The drivers must follow the guidelines of the manufacturer about how many passengers and how much weight is permitted.
Using a helmet is mandatory for responsible drivers. They also must receive special training to use this type of vehicle. The fact of having a driver’s license does not preclude training, because ATVs are different to drive.
Accidents involving ATVs are a general problem in South Carolina and other parts of the country. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that the sum of all accidents, including recreational, were 800,000 in the last 10 years. In 1982, the total of deaths was 29. In 2004, only 22 years later, became more than 16 times higher, with a 470 died people.
Because of recent changes to the South Carolina USERRA regulations, now is a good time to update your South Carolina USERRA posters if you’re an employer. The USERRA is there to protect service members, clarify the law, and improve and enforcement, so it’s important that all workers know its regulations.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 has been updated. The final USERRA regulations were recently released by the Dept. of Labor.
Employees are also often entitled to the same annual salary increases and raises to cover the cost of living that they would have received had they continued working at their civilian jobs.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects service members, clarifies the law, and improves enforcement. It’s full of regulations that cover job rights for veterans and members of the Reserve and National Guard. Recently these regulations have been updated. The final regulations were recently released by the Dept. of Labor.
These changes affect all employees throughout our nation, including those in North Carolina. The law requires that employers make sure their USERRA posters are updated so that their employees know what the USERRA can do for them.
Two important new features of the USERRA regulations include:
- Veterans and members of the Army, Navy, or Air Force reserve have their civilian jobs protected for up to five cumulative years while they serve their country. An employee can serve two years and then an additional three years and still be covered.
- A soldier whose initial enlistment lasts for more than 5 years can still have his or her civilian job protected as long as basic eligibility criteria are met. Timing, frequency, duration or nature of an individual’s service are irrelevant. Periodic National Guard or Reserve training is not included in this five-year total.
According to some test cases, returning veterans were awarded promotions that they would have received based on the length of service.
Now a great time for employers to update their South Carolina USERRA posters due to these recent changes. It’s important to make sure employees have correct information at their fingertips regarding the USERRA.