Thursday, October 30, 2008

Missouri Minimum Wage Incease to $7.05 in 2009

The state of Missouri will increase its minimum wage from $ 6.55 per hour to $7.05 per hour, effective January 1, 2009. This increase is larger than in previous years due to the high rate of inflation for last year.

Last year’s increase was just 15 cents per hour, according to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. According to Todd Smith, Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) Director, “In August, the Department released preliminary data projecting an increase to Missouri’ s minimum wage by 40 cents. A review of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July 2008 confirms the Missouri minimum wage rate will increase to $7.05 effective January 1, 2009.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the CPI, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, as the basis for calculating the new rate. Under Missouri state statute, Section 290.502.2, the Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations must adjust the minimum wage of the state according to the change in the cost of living.

The state of Missouri is one of the few states that allows the minimum wage to go down in accordance with the cost of living.

Employers should note, however, that businesses with annual earnings of less than $500,000, including retail and service businesses, are exempt from the Missouri state minimum wage law.

Workplace Injury and Illness Summary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released statistics on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private employers for 2007. The statistical data shows that the number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illness declined to 4 million cases, compared to 4.1 million cases in 2006. The total recorded case injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers has declined significantly—by 0.2 cases per 100 workers—each year since 2003.

One out of two of the 4 million injury and illness cases reported nationwide in 2007 were of a serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. These cases occurred at a rate of 2.1 per 100 workers, a slight decline compared with 2.3 cases in 2006.

The overall decline was driven mainly by declines among all goods-producing industry sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining. Goods-producing industries as a whole were responsible for more than 60 percent of the decline in illnesses reported among private industry workplaces and accounted for about 41 percent of all occupational illness cases and in 2007.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

U.S. Labor Department help workers impacted by the economic depression

The U.S. Department of Labor announced offering a number of resources to assist the workers influenced by the recent economic stagnation of the worldwide economy by participating in a one-stop Web tool.

The one-stop web site make it easier for the workers to get the Department of Labor resources. Useful information is available including benefits, eligibility, locations of operating One-Stop Career Centers and career service centers, unemployment insurance information by state."We want to make information easily accessible and quickly available to American workers affected by the economic downturn," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao."

A toll-free phone number 866-4-USA-DOL(487-2365) is available for the workers getting the latest information on where to file a claim and access temporary job.

New Law Expands Definition of Disability

On September 25, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the “Act”), expanding protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA").

The Act, which is effective January 1, 2009, expands the scope of disabilities covered under the ADA.

The Act overturns two Supreme Court decisions that had narrowly construed the definition of “disability” under the ADA, and greatly expands the scope of covered disabilities.

Prior to its amendment, the ADA defined a “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. But the United States Supreme Court held that workers with disabilities who can mitigate their impairment should not be considered disabled. Thus, individuals who are able to control their condition with medication do not qualify as “disabled” and are not protected under the ADA.
The Act was designed to “restore the intent and protections” of the original measure, and overturns the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the impact of corrective measures. As a result of the amendments, many employees who were not previously protected under the ADA may now be considered as disabilities.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Updated eTool for Healthcare Industry Helps Employees Avoid Injuries

Employers and employees in the healthcare industry can benefit from the new sonography and updated surgical modules featured in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hospital eTool.

OSHA's eTools are stand-alone, Web-based training tools on occupational safety and health topics. OSHA enlarges these eTool modules to include the following Alliance Program participants: Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Association of Occupational Health Professionals, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Laser Institute of America, American Biological Safety Association, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, and the Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources.

Employees are in face of many occupational safety and health hazards while working in a hospital. OSHA originally developed the Hospital eTool with modules describing common hazards and possible solutions for tasks performed in administration, central supply, clinical services, dietary, emergency, engineering, heliport operations, housekeeping, laboratories, laundry, pharmacy, the intensive care unit and the surgical suite.

The sonography module provides guidance on how sonographers can reduce their risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The surgical module now features updated information on bloodborne pathogens, waste anesthetic gases, laser safety, and other topics related to workplace safety and health in surgical suites.