Harassment: 6 Ways Employers Can Provide Protection

Featured

By Bobbie Fox
Associate General Counsel
CopperPoint Insurance Companies

A new poll issued by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) echoed a story that has permeated news headlines and Hollywood for the past few weeks. It indicates that approximately 33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed, and 14 million sexually abused, in work-related incidents. And nearly all of them report that their male harassers were never punished. Continue reading

OSHA OMG: Violations and shaming employers

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

First, penalties for OSHA violations go way up on August 1, 2016.

Second, OSHA admitted on its website that its motivation is to shame employers.

As the kids say, “OMG!”

OSHA penalties have not risen since 1990.

Here’s the new penalty schedule, which Arizona’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) must adopt:

Willful                                                    No less than $8,908 or more than $124,709.

Repeat                                                   No more than $124,709

Serious and other than serious          No more than $12,471

Failure to correct                                  No more than $12,471 per day

Posting violation                                  No more than $12,471

Not every employer has to keep an OSHA 300 log.  (See the list here to ascertain whether your business is exempt.)  If you are exempt, breathe a little easier.  If not, take a deep breath.

If your business has to keep an OSHA 300 log, you only have a few months to get ready for the 21st century version of the pillory stocks. In its record-keeping final rule, the federal government admits, “Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.”  Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, said that dirty laundry, heretofore private, will be available to investors, job seekers, customers and the public. According to the government, OSHA logs will be the basis for “big data,” which is a cruel joke given the underfunding of this agency.

The new rules also prohibit retaliation against employees. There is no private right of action for employees so they must rely upon ADOSH and the Industrial Commission of Arizona to prosecute their claims. You still must be careful not to retaliate.

ADOSH will be adopting these new rules. They will be phased in over the next two years by the number of employees and the riskiness of industries.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Talk with your worker compensation carrier
  • Transition from paper to electronic media
  • Ascertain what records your business must keep
  • Ascertain what is recordable
  • Review your anti-retaliation policies
  • Do not discourage reporting

Part of being an employer in the Modern World is record-keeping. Your employee handbook probably says, “Safety First.”  Now, it is imperative.

OSHA Penalties Go Large

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

Members of Congress had to take deep breaths and hold their noses to pass the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which kept the federal government open for business. It also mandated a nearly 80% cost of living “catch up” increase to penalties imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

You may remember when the “serious violation penalty” was $1,000. It increased to $7,000 in 1990 and has remained there. In comparison, the yardstick Consumer Price Index, has gone up 78% since 1990.

As a prudent businessperson, you need to assume that federal OSHA will raise penalties by the entire amount. As Arizona is a Section 18 State (meaning OSHA allows our Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health to handle all workplace safety matters), we must follow OSHA’s lead. You can expect serious penalties to range from $7,000 to $12,500. Expect willful and repeat violations to range from $70,000 to $125,000.

Scared yet?

It pays to be up to date on OSHA regulations. Consider attending Safety Works Plus this summer, a daylong educational event sponsored by the safety pros at CopperPoint Insurance Companies. Topics ranging from workplace safety, accident investigations, OSHA reporting  and trends in compensability issues will be presented. Click here For information and to register.