What can contractors and workers do together to deal with the problem of drug and alcohol abuse on the job?
They can become involved together in the West Virginia Drug Free Workplace Alliance. The purpose of the Alliance, developed by the U.S. Labor Department, is to heighten awareness of the hazards and costs of workplace drug and alcohol abuse. It is also designed to offer the kinds of information needed to set up a drug free work environment that protects the health and safety of all workers.
The Secretary of Labor recently, Elaine Chao, recently attended a signing ceremony where she demonstrated her dedication to working together with both contractors’ associations and unions to achieve worker health and safety. The ceremony, held at the U.S. Census Bureau, was attended by the representatives of 5 labor unions and 5 contractors’ associations.
The U.S. Labor Department set up the original alliance in 2004 to bring together both sides in an effort to prevent drug abuse. Its focus is the construction and mining industries.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America, The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades all sent representatives to the signing ceremony.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, The Associated General Contractors, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, NEA – The Association of Union Constructors, and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association were contractors’ associations who sent representatives.
The Labor Department noted that a drug free workforce is only possible by coping with the issue among both current workers and those applying for employment.
Employers can educate workers about the dangers and expenses of drug and alcohol abuse on the job. They can encourage employees with drug and alcohol issues to seek out professional help. Members of the alliance conduct random drug tests on the job, as well as conduct pre-employment screening.
Businesses, federal and state agencies, individuals and private groups are all linking up to warn about the hidden hazards on mining property.
Whether those mine sites are active or abandoned, they all pose a danger. That’s why the effort is being launched to tell everyone to “Stay Out – Stay Alive.”
Many of the victims of tragic accidents on mine sites are children. Others are outdoor enthusiasts. In 2006 alone, 30 people aged 17 to 51 died in underground or surface mine site accidents. Since 1999, more than 200 people were killed in mine-related mishaps.
West Virginia worker safety is also at risk, because some of the victims are workers in unrelated industries who may fall down a mine shaft or suffer injuries from an accident on a site.
The safety offensive includes public service announcements. It will also bring mine safety and health professionals into scout groups and schools to warn children about the dangers they face if they wander onto mining property.
What are some of the dangers? Tunnels may collapse. Or they may be flooded. They may be filled with poisonous gases or venomous snakes. Some hidden mine shafts drop hundreds of feet. They’re sometimes hidden by a layer of boards. Those boards may be rotted or decaying, and may easily collapse under the weight of a child.
“There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States,” according to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. “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 “Stay Out – Stay Alive” campaign is run through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). “Stay Out – Stay Alive” is in its ninth year.
The purpose of the USERRA is to protect service members, clarify the law, and improve enforcement. Soldiers wishing to make a claim under USERRA can get assistance from the Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS). VETS is a division of the US Dept. of Labor.
If you’re an employer, now is a good time to update your West Virginia USERRA poster. It’s important that your workers know about all the changes and updates to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
The final USERRA regulations were recently released by the Dept. of Labor. The newest regulations reinforce the old regulations that cover the job rights for veterans and members of the reserve.
Under recent regulations, veterans and members of the Army, Navy, or Air Force Reserve have their civilian jobs protected up to five years while they serve their country. This period is cumulative. If an employee serves two years and then another three years, he or she is still covered.
There is a significant exception to this regulation that employers and their workers should note. A soldier whose initial enlistment lasts for more than five years may still have his or her civilian job protected as long as the basic eligibility criteria is covered. The new regulations specifically state that the timing, frequency, duration or nature of the individual’s service is irrelevant.
The following are a few significant changes made to the updated USERRA:
Employees are entitled to the same job, salary, and benefits that would be achieved if they had remained in their civilian jobs when they return from military service.
Federal government employees have been added to the list of those eligible to receive Dept. of Labor assistance in processing claims under USERRA.
In many cases employees are also entitled to annual salary increases or cost-of-living raises that they would have received had they continued to work in their civilian jobs without a military leave of absence.
The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) provides assistance to everyone with claims under USERRA. In several test cases returning veterans are awarded promotions that they would have received based on length of service had they not taken time off for military leave.
Employers are being warned to stop using certain chainsaws immediately and to retrofit them for employee safety. Two well-known manufacturers are voluntarily recalling the saws, which are some of the most commonly used in industry.
Workers have received serious bruises and a wrist sprain in one reported incident and burns from muffler heat in another case. In one case, there were severe cuts. OSHA warns that severe gashing can occur, as well as other serious injuries or death.
A West Virginia OSHA alert reports that the chainsaws are popular and commonly used in landscaping, lumbering, construction and other areas of industry. The plastic front handles of all five models of the chainsaw may break after the saws are used heavily. Once that happens, the chainsaw is difficult to control.
Four models of Troy-Bilt and one of Craftsman are involved in the West Virginia OSHA alert. They are two-cycle gasoline engines with either an 18-inch or 20-inch blade and engines from 46cc to 55cc. The Craftsman is the “Incredi-Pull” model and comes equipped with an 18-inch bar and 55cc engine.
OSHA wants employers to protect workers from danger by taking the chainsaws off the job until they’re equipped with the necessary safety items. West Virginia employers can contact West Virginia OSHA or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to get information about a free kit that includes a handle for replacement and instructions for installing the new handles. Without the retrofit, according to OSHA, serious injuries and even death can follow.
More than $700 billion yearly is the cost of deaths, damage, and injury due to faulty consumer products. The CPSC is working with OSHA on the project. While OSHA is aimed at workplace safety, CPSC’s target group is mainly consumers. Its goal is to protect them from dangers of death or injury by tracking more than 15,000 kinds of products that may pose dangers of mechanical, fire, electrical, or chemical problems, or endanger children.
The West Virginia OSHA 300 form needs to be posted from the 1st of February to the last day of April. If the OSHA 300 poster is not displayed by a company in a visible area during the required time, the company is considered to be in violation. Any business that is revealed to not have followed this regulation is subject to a fine by OSHA.
OSHA is concerned with raising safety awareness, and the OSHA 300 poster is an important part of the effort. It is every employer’s responsibility to offer a healthy and safe work environment for their workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is charged with providing instruction, creating and enforcing standards, and regularly inspiring the improvement of workplace health and safety.
Job related illnesses, injuries, and casualties are something that all employers and employees should be aware of. That is why the OSHA 300 log was created and set into motion. It is important to pay attention to safety standards, and it is hoped that the poster will help. The statistics of the accidents in one’s workplace can help workers to remember to use caution. Awareness can help prevent further injury, death and illness.
It is possible to take the safety and health awareness one step further. Employers should encourage their employees to take a look at the poster while it is displayed. They can look at it on their own time, or a meeting can be arranged to discuss safety. The poster is a great tool to illustrate that accidents can happen in the workplace. It can also be used to thank and encourage those who have helped in making sure there are as few accidents as possible, and to tell them to keep up the good work. Either way, these things can help raise the awareness of health and safety precautions.