This is the first in a series of periodic Posts dealing with lessons in employee relations, supervision, safety, and management that we can learn from popular movies. This post focuses on the recent Apollo 11 movie, First Man, which shows the effects of loss, such as death of a coworker, on employees, and how poorly we respond to employees suffering loss and other events that can affect their performances and safety.
Indiana GOP lawmaker and Chamber of Commerce join forces to support a bill to require a penalty for workplace fatalities of $100,000 per employee killed. House Bill 1341, authored by GOP lawmaker Martin Carbaugh, was filed on January 14, 2019. The The new bill reads: “If an employer willfully violates any standard, rule, order, or this chapter and the violation results in the death of an employee, the commissioner shall assess a civil penalty of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) for each employee whose death results from the violation.”
An accident happens and an employee is seriously injured and admitted to the hospital. Not only does the company need to conduct an investigation into what happened, but it must report the injury to OSHA as well. During its own investigation, the company discovers that its manager or supervisor caused the accident by failing to lock out the machine where the employee was injured—in direct contravention to his training and company policy. The company fires the manager or supervisor for his actions.
OSHA has issued a final rule rescinding requirement for companies with 250 or more employees to electronically submit the OSHA 300 log and OSHA Form 301.
Employers are pleased with today's Final Rule eliminating some of the more burdensome electronic submission requirements for workplace injuries and illness data, but now employers need to meet the existing dates for completion and posting of data, as well as electronic submission of 300A Summary information. But what about states who have not yet adopted Fed-OSHA's electronic submission requirements and California, which has passed its own law?
Employers will be facing higher penalties from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed-OSHA”) in 2019. On January 15, 2019, Fed-OSHA announced that it plans to increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for serious and other than serious citations to $13,260, and the highest amount that can be issued for repeat and willful violations to $132,598. Fed-OSHA’s announcement regarding the increases can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/2019InflationAdjustments.pdf and a chart containing all increases by the agency is below:
With the threat of a partial government shutdown looming on December 21, employers are left wondering which government agencies will be impacted if the shutdown occurs. Presently, departments in the following areas will be impacted by a partial government shutdown: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Independent agencies like NASA and the Food and Drug Administration will also be restricted to essential personnel.
While it is not comparable to David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, at a recent industry gathering, OSHA announced its annual top 10 violations for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). For those who have followed these lists in past years, there is a substantial amount of overlap but also new standards that have not made the list in the past.
OSHA issued a new Site Specific Targeting (SST) Plan effective October 16, 2018. Unlike prior versions, this new SST Plan utilizes the 2016 300A data that many employers electronically submitted in December 2017. The new SST Plan is, therefore, dubbed the SST-16.
House Bill 2 (“HB2”) was signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin and became effective in July 2018. Through HB2, the legislature enacted significant changes to multiple provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act. One of the most significant changes in the statute is the portion related to injuries resulting from illegal, non-prescribed substances or prescribed substances in excess of prescribed amounts. Previously, if an employee underwent a drug test after an injury, the employer had to prove that the use of non-prescribed substances (illegal drugs or alcohol) was the proximate cause of the injury. The new workers’ compensation law shifts the burden of proof to the injured worker to prove such illegal substances or prescribed substances was not the proximate cause of the injury. This is a significant difference because the illegal or prescribed substance is now presumed to be the cause of the injury until rebutted by the employee.