According to US Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, “WIRED brings together universities, businesses, community colleges, foundations and economic development organizations to help equip regional workforces with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” Secretary Chao recently announced the competition for the third generation of prestigious WIRED grants.
Many workers in Vermont would benefit from a WIRED grant. While unemployment is generally low throughout the nation, workers in certain areas of Vermont have higher jobless rates. This is partly because they lack job training for highly-skilled positions. A WIRED grant would place Vermont in the same category as northern Indiana, an area that received a grant during the second round. WIRED has proven to be an effective tool in increasing employment and improving regional economies.
Secretary Chao sent a letter to each governor detailing the rules of the WIRED competition. Each state or territory governor may submit up to two proposals for the current, 3rd generation of WIRED grants. The grants may total up to $5 million and must include state, private or regional funding in the request.
The employment picture is generally good throughout the nation. Any unemployment rate under 5% is considered a labor shortage by economists. Currently, the national rate is around 4%. For highly skilled workers including those with a college degree, the unemployment rate is about 1.9% nationwide. Yet, some areas have higher unemployment. That’s where WIRED grants become important.
The initial round of WIRED grants was awarded to 13 regions in February 2006. One of the regions awarded a grant was northern Indiana. This is an area that has struggled with higher unemployment rates for quite some time. The grants were effective in increasing employment and stimulating the area economies. “The WIRED Initiative recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries,” said Secretary Chao.
If you haven’t heard already, then you need to know about a recent Vermont OSHA alert that deals with what to do in preparation for a potential influenza pandemic.
Employers should include a plan that deals with what to do during a worldwide influenza pandemic. The plan should tell workers the best precautions to take during a pandemic, as well as actions each business plans to do to minimize the spread of disease.
This is very important because according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a pandemic could disrupt the global economy in ways never imagined. In fact, a pandemic could have a greater impact than a single terrorist attack.
But an influenza pandemic is something different, explains a recent Vermont OSHA alert. During a pandemic a new strain develops that no one has developed an immunity to. This new virus spreads from person to person across the world.
If a worldwide influenza pandemic were to occur, the OSHA alert says that employers should include an emergency plan to deal with it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that a pandemic could disrupt the global economy more than a single terrorist attack, and employers need to be prepared.
A few things businesses could do include the following:
Reduce contact between co-workers
Schedule conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings
Allow employees to work from home when practical
Create barrier between employees and the public such as drive-thru windows
The OSHA says that people should be prepared, but need not worry about a pandemic anytime soon. The seasonal flu that happens every year is not a major threat. Currently no new influenza virus strain has emerged and there is no risk of a pandemic.
The influenza virus is spread from person-to-person contact. A mild form of the virus infects many people every year around fall or winter. This form of the virus is not fatal to most healthy adults because the majority of people have developed an immunity to it. Only young children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems could die from the typical seasonal flu.
A recently released Vermont OSHA alert has ramifications for workers in a number of occupations across the state. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, regulates safety in the workplace. As part of their charge, OSHA has issued a warning related to defective chainsaws commonly used in construction, landscaping and lumbering occupations. The handle on the chainsaw is reportedly defective, creating a serious risk to worker safety.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a similar mission in keeping workers safe. Their charge is consumer protection, which includes products used by anyone for private or occupational purposes. CPSC is responsible for more than 15,000 products nationwide. When a safety issue is identified, CPSC will issue an alert and, if needed, team up with OSHA to ensure safe working conditions for employees using the products.
The recent Vermont OSHA Alert affects workers using chainsaws manufactured by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. These producers have issued a voluntary recall of some of their chainsaws in response to reports that the plastic handle located on the front of the saw can break off during heavy use. Serious injuries such as severe lacerations from an out of control blade, bruising, burns and, in one instance, a sprained wrist, have resulted when workers tried to regain control of the chainsaw after the handle broke off.
Craftsman has recalled one model, the “Incredi-Pull” chainsaw. Troy-Bilt has recalled four models similar to the Craftsman chainsaw. Their two-cycle gasoline engines, with a 46cc to 55cc capacity, can identify the two brands of chainsaw affected by the recall. The blades are 18- or 20-inches in length.
OSHA is urging employers to pull the chainsaws immediately and discontinue use of the saws until the handles have been replaced and a safety kit has been installed. If employers are unsure whether the model they provide in the workplace is affected by the recall, they should contact the manufacturer or, alternatively, contact Vermont OSHA for further details.
Safety in the workplace is an issue so critical to America’s workforce that the federal government established an agency for the sole purpose of maintaining workplace safety. This agency is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). One way that OSHA works to achieve a high level of safety on the job is with the distribution of posters and bulletins designed to keep the awareness of safety issues a top priority.
If you’re an employer, have you posted your Vermont OSHA 300 form yet? The Vermont OSHA 300 form is one tool OSHA has created with accident prevention in mind. The 2007 OSHA 300A form is a review log citing all accidents, illness, and fatalities that occurred on a particular jobsite in 2006. The OSHA 300 is required by law to be prominently posted from February 1 through April 30, 2007, in an area frequented by all employees. Failure to post this form is a violation of OSHA standards and an employer may face fines for noncompliance.
Other required postings are the OSHA Safety Communication, OSHA – It’s the Law, and the Job Safety and Health Protection posters. These posters are updated each year and the 2007 revised posters should now be displayed in every workplace in America.
OSHA was chartered as the nation’s on-the-job safety monitor but 24 states have now adapted their own safety programs. These state agencies must meet OSHA standards, including providing employers with posters similar to those issued by OSHA. Employers are required to display the state’s posters instead of the OSHA posters but displaying posters from both the state and federal OSHA agencies is never a bad idea.
OSHA and similarly sanctioned state agencies were founded with the mission of ensuring the safety and health of every employee by setting and enforcing standards of safety and sanitation; providing safety-related training, outreach, and education programs; establishing partnerships to encourage free communications on the job; and providing continuous improvement to the safety of the nation’s workforce.
Greetings, and hope this finds everyone well. I thought there was no time like the present to share some information I recently learned about Vermont Department of Labor posters. Yes, I am talking about those posters that Vermont states all employers must display. The posters must be visible and accessible to employees so they can be kept apprised of their labor rights. These Vermont Department of Labor posters include individual state and federal labor law notices that are mandated by the state of Vermont. You can usually find them in break or lunch rooms.
The state posters address Unemployment Insurance, Minimum Wage, Clean Indoor Air Quality Act, Employers’ Reinstatement Liability, Workers’ Compensation, OSHA, Sexual Harassment, Parental and Family Leave Act, and Child Labor, while the federal posters explain Equal Opportunity Employment, Federal Minimum Wage, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and OSHA’s Job Safety and Health Protection Act.
Before I forget I did want to mention that Vermont Department of Labor posters are changed frequently. And it’s the law to have a current one posted. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea for both employers and employees to have the most current labor laws at hand. Employers who are interested in complying with the law will make sure their posters are up to date, and should also know that Vermont Department of Labor posters are among the first things looked at during a Department of Labor inspection.
I thought it was important to mention as well that the Vermont Unemployment Insurance notice has a new posting requirement for the state that lists phone numbers for employees to call if they become unemployed or have their hours reduced. At any rate, it is definitely worth taking a look at.
Anyway, just wanted to make sure you were aware of that change to the Vermont Department of Labor posters. I’ll be sure to keep you updated if I hear of anything else.