With all of the changes taking place in the world of labor law, it’s vital that employers update their Washington labor law posters now.
There are a number of changes to the 2008 Washington 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 Washington labor law posters, since the state minimum wage is due to increase on January 1, 2008. On that day, the state rate will increase by 12 cents from $7.95 to $8.07 per hour. This follows a 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage, from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, in July 2007.
For 2008, the Washington labor law posters are:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Employee Rights for Non Agricultural Workers
- Employee Rights for Agricultural Workers
- Washington FMLA
- Injury on the Job Notice
- Discrimination Notice
- OSHA – Safety and Health Protection
- Minimum Wage
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.
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 offers a premium of 1.5 times the normal hourly rate for any time over 40 hours. States without their own laws include Delaware, Arizona, Idaho, Georgia, and Florida. Workers not normally covered by federal overtime law are not entitled to overtime in these states.
Nebraska mirrors the federal law but extends coverage to all businesses with 4 or more employees. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan also mirror federal law – 1.5 times normal after 40 hours. But Kansas’ overtime does not kick in until 46 hours, and Minnesota’s not until 48.
Kentucky provides overtime after 40 hours or on the 7th consecutive workday regardless of number of hours. In Colorado, it kicks in after 12 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Only restaurant and hotel workers may collect overtime on the 7th consecutive day of work in Connecticut.
California has the most generous plan. Employees get overtime after working 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Anyone working 7 consecutive days gets overtime on the 7th day. Double-time is paid after an employee works 12 hours in a day, or after 8 hours on the 7th consecutive work day.
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.
Due to concern about Washington worker safety, along with the safety of the public, the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has developed a new campaign. Although many people may not realize how dangerous working and abandoned mines can be, over 200 people have died in mine-related accidents since 1999. Outdoor enthusiasts, workers from industries other than mining, and children sometimes wander on mine property and get hurt.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, also known as MSHA, is trying to warn the public of the dangers. This is the ninth year that MSHA has joined forces with businesses, individuals, state agencies, and other federal agencies to try to warn the public. This year’s campaign is entitled “Stay Out–Stay Alive.” The goal is to educate the public on the dangers and to convince them that the best way to avoid injury on mine property is stay out.
Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, explained, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States. Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
The dangers posed by these mines are very real. In 2006, 30 people died in accidents on the property of surface or underground mines. These accident victims varied in age from 17 to 51.
Sadly, children also wander onto mine property to play, not realizing the danger. Also, outdoor enthusiasts and workers from industries other than mining may wander onto mine property and get hurt.
To get the message out, the campaign will utilize public service announcements. In addition, health professionals along with mine safety personnel employed by the federal government will talk to young people at schools, organizations, and scouting meetings.
The Washington USERRA regulations, sanctioned by the US Department of Labor, provide job security for reservists and member of the National Guard called away from civilian jobs because of deployment for active duty. USERRA is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
The Washington USERRA poster should be displayed in every workplace. The USERRA was enacted as a means of job protection for reservists serving on active military duty. The act also provides clarification of the laws pertaining to reservists in the workplace and enforcement of job protection for these workers.
Recent upgrades have been made to the Washington USERRA regulations and these upgrades are described in a poster that is required by law to be displayed on every jobsite in the state. So important is this issue that even employers who have no reservists on their payrolls must display the poster in a prominent location.
One very important issue covered under Washington USERRA regulations is pension plan coverage. A recent change to USERRA regulations clearly and explicitly states that all pension plans belonging to reservists on active duty are protected during deployment.
Another important USERRA issue is the reservist’s return to work after deployment. The returning soldier is entitled to return to his or her job held before active duty and job status, position, rate of pay, etc., must be the same as it was when the soldier was deployed.
New regulations describe when a soldier must return to work. In particular, the regulations govern how much time is allowed to elapse between the soldier’s return from active duty, and reporting to his or her job. The time a returning soldier must report back to work is based upon the length of active deployment. USERRA regulations allow for job protection even if a soldier is on active duty as long as five years.
Chainsaw use in the workplace has increased in the past decade, and so have chainsaw injuries.
A recent recall of two major brands of chainsaws prompted a Washington worker safety alert. These chainsaws pose a hazard to workers since the front plastic handle can break off when it is being used heavily. When this handle breaks off, the worker may have difficulty controlling the saw, which could result in an injury. Employers and workers need to be aware of the hazards posed by these chainsaws.
This recall impacts two popular chainsaws made by TroyBilt and Craftsman. All of these chainsaws have two-cycle engines that run on gasoline. The four TroyBilt models affected by this recall all have cutting blades of either 18 inches or 20 inches. The TroyBilt models have engine sizes ranging from 46cc to 55cc. The Craftsman chainsaw affected by the recall is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This model has a 55cc engine and a cutting blade of 18 inches.
Which models of Troy-Bilt and Craftsman are part of this recall?
Four models built by Troy-Bilt are included in this recall, and one model built by Craftsman is included. The Troy-Bilt chainsaws all have 18-inch or 20-inch blades and gas-powered two-cycle engines. These engines are from 46cc to 55cc in size. The Craftsman chainsaw included in this recall is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This chainsaw has an 18-inch blade and a two-cycle 55cc gas engine.
Why are these chainsaws being recalled?
These Troy-Bilt and Craftsman chainsaws are being recalled because the front handle, which is made of plastic, can break when the chainsaw is being used heavily.
What happens if this handle breaks?
When this handle breaks, the chainsaw can become difficult to control and, therefore, pose a hazard to workers. Employers should make certain workers stop using these chainsaws since they are unsafe.
Have people been injured by these chainsaws?
Yes, injuries have been reported to OSHA. These reports include incidents of cuts, bruises, sprains, and burns. To prevent injuries, workers should stop using the chainsaws immediately.
This recall was made voluntarily by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. They cooperated with OSHA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The job of CPSC is to protect consumers from products that may cause injuries or death. Incidents involving consumer products that result in property damage, injuries, and death cost the US over $700 billion per year.
Yet another work-related accident involving an ATV has occurred – this time, with fatal results. In a fatality investigated by the local area office of OSHA, the driver was applying herbicide to weeds when the accident occurred. The employer had had fitted the sprayer on the rear cargo rack, casing the vehicle to become more unstable. Driving on a steep incline over rough terrain contributed to the accident as well, according to OSHA.
The operator was driving uphill when the ATVs front wheels left the ground. The vehicle began to flip over, and she tried to stabilize it by standing up. When that failed, she tried unsuccessfully to jump out of the way, but was crushed. The heavy herbicide sprayer had redistributed the weight over the wheelbase.
Most of us are used to thinking of ATVs almost as toys, however, when modified for work, they can be very dangerous.
Untrained workplace ATV drivers who are not using safety measures can put themselves at risk of injury and death, according to a Washington worker safety alert.
The alert follows a fatal accident in which a worker was killed while operating an All-Terrain Vehicle with an herbicide sprayer that was 55 pounds over the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit. The Bismarck, North Dakota OSHA office investigated the accident.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that ATV deaths have climbed more than 15-fold in a 24 year period, from 29 in 1982 to 470 in 2004. Injuries reached a new high of 136,100.
OSHA has released a bulletin with guidelines for operation. The most important recommendation is training employees in the use of the ATV. While it has a reputation as a recreational vehicle sometimes operated by children, it is nevertheless tricky to maneuver — not at all similar in its operation to a car or truck. Employees should use helmets while operating All-Terrain Vehicles. OSHA also recommends following manufacturers’ weight guidelines.