There are several items in the news regarding Alaska worker safety, including new regulations for the use of chromium in the workplace, and an award to an Alaskan firm.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Juneau office has implemented occupational safety requirements that mirror updated federal worker safety regulations to prevent excess exposure to hexavalent chromium, also called Chromium VI, an industrial gas primarily associated with metal electroplating.
The gas is used in scores of metal electroplating applications including the manufacture of automobiles, home appliances and jewelry. It is also used in some office settings. Alaska Division of labor Standards and Safety Director Grey Mitchell notes that the new standards are important for the safety of workers, even though such operations are not as common in Alaska as in some of the lower 48 states.
Under the new Alaska worker safety regulations, the state is required to publish compliance updates with standards of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor and published in the Federal Register. The Alaska labor department posts a list of regulatory and interpretive directives online.
In other Alaska worker safety news, the state has honored an Anchorage medical practice for its outstanding employee safety programs. Internal Medicine Associates of Anchorage earned The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award from the Alaska Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development.
“Experience shows those companies that partner with the state and achieve SHARP status are likely to experience fewer workplace accidents and reduced workers’ compensation insurance costs,” said Labor Commissioner Greg O’Claray. This is the third time that the clinic has received this award.
The SHARP program is administered by the office of Alaska Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH) in the Division of Labor Standards and Safety. Participating employers are excused from generally scheduled AKOSH enforcement inspections during the recognition period. Enforcement regulations remain in effect in cases of employee complaints or accident investigations.
In Alaska the time line for the post-injury activity for an employee is generally the same, though with some minor differences. For instance, when an employee gets hurt in Alaska, they can go get first aid right away if needed in the event of a medical emergency. When they go to get this medical aid, they can even pick the physician they want to go to, which is a bit different from the Alabama law we just talked about where the Alabama employer and insurance companies get to choose the physician.
In Alaska, after the employee has received this medical care and the situation is stabilized, then they are supposed to tell you about the injury. As the employer, supervisor, boss, owner—whatever exact role you have as the employer—you have to know as soon as possible about all workers’ injuries.
In Alaska, just the employee telling you about the injury isn’t enough. They must also provide you a written notice about their injury within 30 days of the accident. A copy of this written notice must also go to the state workers’ comp Board. There is a special form that the employee can use, called the Report of Occupational Injury or Illness, which the Board puts out for just this purpose.
As an employer, it is also up to you to pass along information about your workers’ comp insurance company to your employees. You can do this by simply posting the workers’ comp poster required by the state. But when an employee is injured, they can also ask you for the information in a form.
Other things to watch out for in the Alaska system are that the employees are providing information about their doctor to the insurance company, and that the employees are keeping track with receipts of all of the medical care they are receiving.
As we’ll see from looking at the different states in the Union when it comes to workers’ comp, each and every one of them has a different take on this form of employers’ insurance. All of them make it mandatory in one form or another, but exactly which employers are included, what they have to buy, and how, differ in every state practically.
If you are an employer in the state of Alaska, here is your key to these important questions about workers’ comp. In Alaska, the law in question here is the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act, which states that all employers in the state with only one or more employees must have workers’ comp. So basically, unless you work for yourself and by yourself, you will need to buy this form of insurance for your employees.
There are, though, a few exceptions to this blanket rule, Alaska employers. The big one is if you are self-insured for workers’ comp, which means basically you set aside your company’s own money every year to cover workers’ injuries down the road. This is a complicated topic and one we can talk about more in detail later.
The other exceptions to the Alaska workers’ comp rules deal with specific employees under your watch, and those that you don’t have to cover under workers’ comp. The first such exempted employee is you, of course, if you are the sole proprietor or general partner in a partnership. In that case, your other general partners don’t need coverage either.
Executive officers in a nonprofit company and members in a member-managed LLC don’t need workers’ comp either. Part time babysitters don’t need to be covered under your workers’ comp, and neither do part timers in cleaning, harvesting, transient work, amateur sports referees, contract entertainers, and commercial fishermen, among others.
The state of Alaska does not have any laws governing mileage reimbursement except with respect to Workers Compensation. There is no minimum amount set forth or enforced by the state. Most employers, public and private do pay for travel expenses in the form of per mile rates when using personal vehicles for business related travel.Some employers pay their employees at a rate lower than that set forth by the IRS and in that case the difference may be deducted for tax purposes, however if paid at a higher rate than the excess will be counted as taxable income.
An injured employee must use the most reasonable transportation to get medical care.The insurer pays travel costs according to the statute, which states that, a reasonable amount for meals and lodging purchased when obtaining necessary medical treatment must be paid by the employer.
Reimbursable expenses may not exceed the per diem amount paid by the state to its supervisory employees while traveling. The amount set by the state typically reflects that of the IRS, though sometimes the State lags behind.
Transportation expenses in the form of mileage reimbursement are payable when 100 miles or more have accumulated or upon completion of medical treatment, whichever occurs first. As of January 1, 2006 the current rate is $.445 per mile. Though as late as December of 2005, the set price was 48.5 cents per mile. The IRS will adjust the amount in accordance with the current trend in gas pricing, new car costs, and insurance rates.In conclusion, with the exception of employees of the state, and those who have been injured on the job, there are no set guidelines that employers have to follow to reimburse their employees for mileage put on personal vehicles for business purposes.