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Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

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Effective Traffic Control Management Assures Worker Safety

We drive by the “Be Work Zone Alert” billboards all the time, reminding us to slow down and drive safe through road construction zones, with compassion-provoking reminders like, “Be alert, our mom’s at work.” And indeed, rather than feel annoyed at the roadwork construction that delays our driving progress, let’s continue to be mindful of the real risks that the workers face every day on the job.

Reconsidering External Threats From Terrorists and Other Criminals

Although most “workplace violence” incidents are low-level psychological or physical altercations between co-workers, Canadians have just been tragically reminded of the dangers of murders by interlopers. Government buildings are the likeliest targets for terrorism, and financial and retail buildings the likeliest targets for non-political criminals, but all workplaces face at least some of these most severe risks. There’s no way to eliminate these risks, but commonsense workplace security measures can reduce them. This note discusses approaches to evaluating and reinforcing security against external threats – which are important subsets of broader workplace violence prevention efforts.

Minimum Wage Rising For Federal Contract Employees

Every employer probably should know that employees have a right to receive at least the “minimum wage” for the hours they work. But employers may or may not focus on the fact that there’s not just one “minimum wage” – there are many, depending on the jurisdiction, the employer’s business or governmental sector, and the employee’s status. The federally-mandated minimum wage for most employees is $7.25 per hour (set in 2007 under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)), but some categories of workers can be paid lower wages, and some states require higher wages. Employers with scattered and diverse activities and work forces need to track developments under each applicable situation.

PHMSA Requires Advance Notice of Construction-Related Events

To ensure that operations at gas pipelines, gas pipeline facilities, and LNG plants and facilities are in compliance with a range of conditions, operators of such plants and facilities must provide the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) with 60 days’ advance notice of construction-related events. This advance notice allows time for reviews and inspections to identify any potential compliance issues and avoid costly design changes or delays.

Environmental State Differences Checklists Expanded to Include Operator Certification Requirements

Striving to meet wastewater compliance limits? Your treatment processes are only as good as the operators running your facilities—which is why every state and Puerto Rico have set specific operator certification standards for wastewater treatment plants. Do you know your state's requirements for:

Earthquakes: Are You Ready to “Shake Out” on October 16?

Once a year in our office, someone walks through the halls ringing an old-fashioned school bell. We immediately stop what we are doing, crawl under our desks and brace ourselves, and wait. A few moments later, one of our earthquake marshals comes by to tell us that it is safe to leave the building, and we carefully make our way down the stairs to the designated meeting spot. After checking the staff list and verifying that everyone made it out “safely,” our marshals let us return to our work. It wasn’t an earthquake—this time.

OSHA: Providing Lockout/Tagout to Protect Workers from Equipment

Most Occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA) electrical safety and machine guarding standards apply to protect employees from electrical and kinetic energy hazards during routine operations. But OSHA also requires protection during equipment servicing and maintenance, lest employees be injured by “unexpected” equipment energization, start up, or release of stored energy. OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy Standard—more often called the Lockout/Tagout or “LOTO” Standard after its primary compliance requirements—requires employers to establish and implement safety procedures to control such hazardous energy.

OSHA Expands Catastrophe Reporting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long required all employers to report work-related accidents that result in three or more deaths or serious injuries (what OSHA calls "catastrophes"). On September 18 OSHA published changes to these requirements that expand employers’ reporting requirements effective January 1, 2015 (I blogged about OSHA’s proposal here).

Vehicle Maintenance: Your Owner’s Manual…Read It Or Weep

The Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) wants you to know that taking the time to review your owner’s manual can ultimately save you time and money...and maybe even a few tears! These manuals contain maintenance and service guidelines that will help ensure the longevity of your vehicle. BAR explains the following reasons why you should read your owner’s manual:

OSHA: Protecting Workers From Workplace Air Contaminants

OSHA regulates workplace air contaminants to protect employees from exposures to airborne chemical and particulate contaminants in workplace air. Generally, employee exposures are limited by permissible exposure limits (PEL) based on a time-weighted average (TWA) over an 8-hour workday. OSHA also allows exposure to some contaminants at greater “excursion limits” for short periods of time, subject to “ceiling values.” Many of these limits are based on voluntary standards developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).

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