By hrsynergy

OSHA’s Top 10 List

NCS President and CEO Deborah A. P. Hersman said, “OSHA’s Top 10 List is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe.”  Since the top five on the list is identical to the top five in the fiscal year 2016, it’s easy to see that most of the violations remain the same.

The list for the fiscal year 2017:

  1. Fall protection – General Requirements, 6,072 violations
  2. Hazard Communication, 4,176
  3. Scaffolding, 3,288
  4. Respiratory Protection, 3,097
  5. Lockout/Tagout, 2,877
  6. Ladders, 2,241
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, 2,162
  8. Machine Guarding, 1,933
  9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements, 1, 523
  10. Electrical – Wiring Methods, 1,405

Number two on the list, Hazard Communication is one that applies to most businesses, regardless of their size, if their employees work with any type of chemicals.  Employers are required to define a chemical as any product having a warning label on it and used by your employees.  If you wouldn’t want your three-year-old to get their hands on the chemical and your employees use it at work, make sure you get an SDS (Safety Data Sheet).

A fairly recent (2012) change to the Standard caused the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) to be renamed Safety Data Sheets.  This change also required all Safety Data Sheets to consist of 16 sections, specifically defined in the standard.

If you bought your product at Walmart, you should be able to go on the website (normally on all labels) and find the SDS on the product which then can be printed and added to your binder.  These SDS binders must be available to your employees and are normally kept near most of the chemicals.  If you have been maintaining an MSDS/SDS binder all along, we recommend a review of your SDS to ensure they meet the new GHS requirements.  Rule of thumb is that if an SDS is more than five years old, it is worth verifying that it is the latest version.

Businesses must also have a written Hazard Communication Program and have documentation of annual refresher training for all active employees.

To comply with this requirement the program must:

  • Contain language regarding the policy to comply with the revised OSHA standard which has been aligned with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • Contain language about who maintains the Hazardous Chemicals list.
  • Identify who is responsible for the annual refresher training.
  • Identify who is responsible for an annual review of the program.

In New Hampshire, for businesses of over 15 employees, this is typically your JLMC (Joint Loss Management Committee).  For companies whose employees don’t normally come into contact with blood or other body fluids, it is best practice to include language in this program about the potential of bloodborne pathogen exposure.

Violations for powered industrial trucks are further down on the list, but the fines can be substantial for non-compliance.  We’ll be running Forklift Certification classes throughout the year please visit our Training & Events page for more details.

If you need assistance with this or any other item on OSHA’s Top Ten List, HR Synergy, LLC can help.  We can customize these or any other safety programs for you.  If you’re not sure of your status, call us to schedule a mock Department of Labor or OSHA audit before the real inspectors show up on your doorstep.

 

When is Action Required?

Your Compliance is Important To Us!

Regulatory compliance is particularly challenging when the regulations themselves are in the process of change.  Ensuring our clients are in compliance is an entirely separate challenge.  Seth Godin says, “The creation of worthwhile work is a duet. The creator has to do her part, but so does the consumer.”

One of our primary functions is to keep our clients out of trouble with OSHA and the Department of Labor, in addition to keeping them out of trouble with their employees.   We do our best by providing educational materials to our clients and our networking partners in the forms of blogs, quarterly newsletters, and even specific e-mails.  Hopefully, you are treating our communications at the same level as those from your lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor so that you are taking the best advantage of our services.

We received some excellent advice from one of our clients about the new OSHA requirement for filing electronically. The client’s valid argument was that he gets 100s of e-mail a day and didn’t recognize the importance of the communication, believing that it didn’t apply to his company.  “If it wasn’t for having that item on the 4th quarter JLMC agenda, we might not have known that the company hadn’t submitted their OSHA 300A form electronically.”  He suggested that when action should be taken by our clients, we should put ACTION REQUIRED in the subject line.  This is an excellent suggestion and one that we’ll try to follow.

If you believe that you may have missed some of our educational topics, please schedule a mock audit with us.  Hopefully, this audit will reveal any areas of non-compliance so corrective action can be taken. Remember, we will provide as few or as many services as you want or need.  You can do the work or have us do the work for you. The bottom line is that your compliance is important to us and should be equally important to you.

 

Important Dates

 

February 2018:

  • 2/1 – OSHA 300A log posting deadline
  • 2/14 – Valentines Day
  • 2/15 – Request new W-4 Forms from employees
  • 2/16 – Forklift Training Florida
  • 2/19 – Presidents Day
  • 2/27 – Virtual Coaching through Hannah Grimes

 

 

 

 


 

March 2018:

  • 3/2 – Forms 1094C & 1095C due
  • 3/17 – St. Patrick’s Day
  • 3/20 – Spring Begins
  • 3/27 – Virtual Coaching through Hannah Grimes
  • 3/30 – NH annual reports and fee’s due

 

 

 

 


 

April 2018:

  • 4/1 – Easter
  • 4/2 – Submit electronic 1094C & 1095C forms to IRS
  • 4/15 – Tax forms due
  • 4/22 –  Earth Day
  • 4/25 – Administrative Professionals Day
  • 4/30 – NHES Forms Due

2018 The Year of Change for Employers

 

Who or what is the most valuable asset (MVA) of your company? Employees should be considered the MVA of every organization. Without MVA’s how will your company meet the needs and demands of your customers?

The importance of retaining your MVA’s and reducing turnover is recommended to be the highest priority for your company this upcoming year. You have most likely experienced throughout 2017, the challenges of finding and retaining top talent within your company. Determining why employees are leaving your company and what attracts employees to your company is important to determine. No different than gearing your marketing towards specific industries or segments.

Some recommendations for uncovering what makes your employees tick or be ticked off:

  1. Employee Onboarding – Evaluate the onboarding process you are currently using. Investing time with a new employee on their first day leaves a lasting impression.
  2. Compensation Analysis – Have a compensation analysis done for all positions within your organization. Due to the recession, many companies put a hold on performance evaluations and increases due to financial restraints. Coming out of the financial stresses, many businesses have reinstated the Performance Appraisal and Salary Increases. The challenge here is, the value of duties and responsibilities has changed since 2008 and offering a minimal increase following years of no increase and no communication about performance may be insulting to employees.
  3. Implement Stay Interviews – The exit interview is not the best time to find out what your company can do to keep employees from leaving, by then, it’s too late.  It’s best to interview employees every 3-6 months to give them the opportunity to discuss what they like and don’t like about their current position, it gives the company time to address change and can help reduce employee turnover.
  4. Employee Surveys – Survey current employees to determine why they stay with your company and what will motivate them to make a move.
  5. Work-Life Balance – Evaluate the programs offered to employees to assist them with balancing work demands and life demands. Considering flexible work schedules and telecommuting are some options to consider.
  6. Culture – Is your work culture adaptable and acceptable to various generations throughout your workforce? Workplace Culture is the character and personality of your organization and is important for the organization as it directly impacts the ability to attract and retain talent.
  7. Diversity in the Workplace – Diversity is important because it introduces new ideas and adds to the workplace culture, it also increases employee morale and causes employees to work more effectively and efficiently.
  8. Mentors for Generational Gaps – In order for baby boomers to retire our millennials need to learn what makes “the other generations” stay with a company for extended periods of time. Who better to learn about work ethic, dedication, and respect from but our existing generation. Developing a mentoring program is a great tool to educate employees about work ethic and responsibilities while providing value to the baby boomers who don’t want to retire because they believe no one will respect the job and/or company like they do.
  9. Management Training – Promoting employees to management positions without providing them with the necessary tools and training is a recipe for disaster. Invest in helping your employees to be successful instead of leading them to think they are just filling a void.

Are your Employment Posters Up-to-Date?

The New Hampshire Department of Labor requires all New Hampshire businesses with employees to display these posters in a prominent location in every place of employment.  This information is important in order to ensure employees are aware of their legal rights and responsibilities. These laws are periodically updated which is why it is important to make sure you have the most recent version of the poster available to your employees. Click the name of the poster below to download a PDF of the most recent updates.

Mandatory NH State Posters Additional NH State Posters
Workers’ Compensation Law (obtain from insurance carrier) Unemployment Notice (1/2012)
Protective Legislation Law (2/2018) NHES Vacation Shutdown (1/2012)
Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor (2/2018) Employment Poster
New Hampshire Minimum Wage Law (2/2018) 2240 – Spanish Employment Poster
Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (2/2018) Housing Discrimination Poster
Workers Right to Know (2/2018)
Equal Pay Law (2/2018)

Federal Posters

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) (7/2016)

 Executive Order 11246 (11/2009)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (7/2016)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) / Section 14(c) (7/2009)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (4/2016)

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act (4/2015)

The Uniformed Services Employments and Reemployment Rights Act (4/2017)

You can also view these posters at https://www.nh.gov/labor/forms/mandatory-posters.htm.

OSHA 300A Form Posting Deadline

Sign & Post Your OSHA 300A Form by February 1, 2018

Many but not all employers must complete the OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping forms on an ongoing basis.  Employers with 10 or fewer employees throughout the previous calendar year do not need to complete these forms. In addition to the small employer exemption, there is an exemption for establishments classified in certain industries. A complete list of exempt industries can be found on the OSHA web page at OSHA.gov

This is an old requirement for covered establishments.  There are many companies that are exempt from this requirement, but we strongly urge you to maintain these records of injuries and illnesses.  We also advise you to post the OSHA 300A form in a visible location as a method of educating your employees about the safety of their work environment.  It is reassuring to employees to see this form with all zeros so that they understand it’s a safe place to work.

HR Synergy, LLC and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration shares with you the goal of preventing injuries and illnesses in your workplace. Accurate injury and illness records will help achieve that goal.

Visit OSHA.gov for more information and to download your 300A forms.

Please contact us at (603) 641-2402 if you have any questions or concerns.

Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance

When you’re an entrepreneur your time is your most valued asset.  It is important to stay focused on BOTH your business and your personal life!

For small-business owners, and entrepreneurs with a growing business work-life balance has become one of their biggest challenges. Many owners love what they do but find themselves caught up in the day-to-day needs of their company with no free time to spend with loved ones, or on personally fulfilling activities like getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising, all the necessary elements of a well-rounded life. But there is hope, many successful entrepreneurs have found a way to juggle their ultra-busy professional lives with their personal and social lives to include a healthy work-life balance. Here are some helpful tips that help me get through the day:

Delegate your work:

Many entrepreneurs are working to fulfill their client projects on their own and doing everything themselves to keep their business running. A recent survey estimated that nearly 80 percent of entrepreneurs feel they work too much, and many would prefer to work fewer than 40 hours a week. The biggest reason they’re overworked? They feel there are some tasks that only they can handle, tasks they can’t easily delegate out to others.

Delegating work doesn’t stop with the business, it’s also important to consciously think about how you’re spending your time at home.  After a long day at the office, no one want’s to be spending what little free time they have on housework.  Consider delegating some of the daily chores to your spouse or partner and get the family involved with cooking, cleaning, and running errands.

 Manage your time: 

Managing your schedule is just as important as delegating your projects. Planning for your upcoming week is helpful with staying focused and on track. Take time to sit down one day a week and reflect on the previous week. Develop a work plan for the week ahead that includes work initiatives and goals, time for family and time for yourself.  Include not only work meetings and obligations but activities you enjoy like meeting with friends, sleeping in or exercising.

As an entrepreneur we try to fit as much as we can into every day, scheduling meetings earlier and earlier in the morning so we have more time during the day to focus on getting things done.  I noticed that by the end of the day I was feeling run down, tired and overworked with no energy to do things I enjoy doing in my spare time.  I found that if I start my workday at 9:00 AM it gives me a little extra time in the morning to wake up, do some yoga, and reflect on the day ahead.   Taking that extra hour or two in the morning really makes a difference in my piece of mind and overall well-being.

Being more organized and making time for both business and personal activities is important for my health and well-being.  I’ve decided that for my 2018 New Year’s resolution is to have healthy work-life balance.  What’s your resolution?

 

Preparing for Adverse Weather Conditions

Let it Snow! Is your Company Prepared for the Winter Season?

New England is heading into the winter season as evidenced by the recent snowfall.  In New Hampshire, if you close your facility early and send your employees home because of bad weather, lack of power, heat or water, you must pay your non-exempt employees a minimum of two hours or all hours worked up to the time of the closure, whichever is greater.   If a facility is closed for an entire day or more due to severe weather conditions, it is important that there is a written inclement weather policy documented in the Employee Handbook. Employees should be well informed of the policy and know exactly what protocol to follow.

The Adverse Weather Policy in your Employee Handbook should address the following issues:

  1. Who is responsible for making the decision to close your facility?
  2. How will employees be notified – by phone, text, e-mail or local radio/TV announcement?
  3. When will employees be notified (how soon before their shift begins)?
  4. What is the procedure for employees who travel through an area that has been declared a state of emergency?
  5. Will both exempt and non-exempt employees be allowed to work from home or be offered other options to make up for the time lost?
  6. How will employees be compensated for lost wages? Will they have to use their accrued paid time off?
  7. What actions will take place after the adverse weather is over? Will employees be required to report to work outside of their normal scheduled hours? How will production be scheduled to make up for the missed time?

A few decades ago, a company had two options for notifying employees about a weather-related closure;  a telephone tree or a radio/TV announcement.  Some companies and professional organizations would use – and still use – school closings as their barometer. If the local school district is closed or is delayed, then the company is closed or delayed.

Now, however, technology has created many more options for communicating a closure, including automated mass e-mails, texts or phone calls.  There is a service called dialmycalls.com that will quickly send a mass text message, email or phone call to any group of contacts, for a fee.  The company has control over the contact list, the timing of the call and the content.  The trick is to make sure employees know where, when and how to expect a message.

For assistance with writing or editing your employee handbook to include an Adverse Weather Policy, please contact the professionals at HR Synergy at (603) 261-2402 we can help you with all your Human Resource needs.

 

Pre-Employment Drug Testing

One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is operational efficiency, and that extends through every level of a company’s infrastructure, from the way the computer network is maintained to the system of management used to organize employees. But there’s one area that has, in recent years, grown in importance, and that is hiring. After all, the hiring process is an extremely critical component of a workplace that can potentially affect every level of a company. When there’s an absence in an important position, work suffers. When a new person is hired, resources must be diverted for orientation or training, if it’s required. And if an employee resigns or is dismissed, this creates another hole that makes work challenging for everyone.

This is why now, more than ever, hiring the right person is an incredibly important aspect of management. And therefore, pre-employment drug testing can play a vital role in making sure that not only does the right person get the job, but no time, money or other resources are wasted on the wrong people holding onto the job for some critical period, only to create more problems with their inevitable dismissal. Often when hiring a liability, you end up owning that liability.

A person’s private life is their own affair, there’s no argument about that. However, when private activities begin to interfere with professional obligations, then it becomes a problem not just for the individual but for the organization that individual is affiliated with. Pre-employment drug testing is one of the best ways to keep problems from even occurring in the first place, and is an effective, front-line defensive and preventive measure to ensure that a working, efficient, established system in a workplace continues to operate that way without disruption.

An established, scrupulously applied pre-employment drug testing program can help a company hire the right candidate for that job!

To set up your pre-employment drug testing program call Lynn at 603-974-1030 or email lynn.snhdrugtesting@gmail.com. 

 

Southern New Hampshire,
LLC, 24 Stickney Terr Unit 5,
Hampton, NH 03842 

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

How to Recognize it, Establishing Procedures to Report it and How to Prevent it

With the rise in recent high profile sexual harassment cases, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Gretchen Carlson it is time to stop shying away from the uncomfortable topic and start bringing the reality of the situation to light.  To avoid costly litigation and lawsuits, companies must protect themselves and their employees by having policies and procedures in place and making sure their managers, supervisors and employees are properly trained.

By definition, “Sexual harassment” is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently persistent or offensive to unreasonably interfere with an employee’s job performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.” In the past year, the EEOC received approximately 27,000 charges of sexual harassment. However, on average, approximately 30% of sexual harassment complaints go unreported.

The first step in preventing harassment is establishing a zero-tolerance policy that:

  • Explains what harassment is
  • Provides examples of such behavior
  • States who to report harassment claims to
  • Explanation of complaint procedures
  • Assures confidentiality and no retaliation

The second step, after the policy is finalized and approved, is to provide harassment training for your managers and supervisors.  It is strongly recommended that supervisors and managers have separate training sessions from employees that teaches them what to do if they receive a complaint or observe inappropriate behavior.  Supervisors and managers also have a legal liability to ensure a workplace free from harassment.

The third step would be to conduct training for all employees.  Explain the company’s zero-tolerance policy using examples and activities of various types of harassment, discuss the complaint procedures, and encourage employees to speak up without the fear of retaliation.

Do not hesitate to properly investigate the alleged conduct.  Be proactive, even if you do not have an official complaint, pay attention to office gossip, comments made outside the office and messages on social media.  Failing to prevent an issue or ignoring an existing problem can have a negative effect that includes significant financial consequences. If the victim complains to the EEOC, the company will be the subject of an investigation, and possibly a lawsuit.

Depending on the facts of a case, actual out-of-pocket costs for a company can range anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars. Not including damaged reputation, loss of clients, customers and investors, as well as decreased employee morale and an inability to attract and retain talent.

If you have questions, need assistance writing your Sexual Harassment policy, would like to schedule Harassment Training or are looking for some guidance, contact the professional at HR Synergy today!