Saturday, January 21, 2017

19 States See Minimum Wage Increase in 2017

Across the U.S., 19 states will see a state minimum wage increase in 2017. However, the Federal government hasn’t raised minimum wages in over 7 years since 2009, when it raised it from $6.55 to $7.25, some of the states on this list will see rates as high as $11 in the increase. The state minimum wage increase can bring about major changes in the way you run your business if you’re in one of these states.

Alaska will increase from $9.75 to $9.80 per hour.
Arizona will increase from $8.05 to $10 per hour.
Arkansas will increase from $8 to 8.50 per hour.
California will increase from $10 to $10.50 per hour.
Colorado will increase from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour.
Connecticut will increase from $9.60 to $10.10 per hour.
Florida will increase from $8.05 to $8.10 per hour.
Hawaii will increase from $8.50 to $9.25 per hour.
Maine will increase from $7.50 to $9 per hour.
Massachusetts will increase from $10 to $11 per hour.
Michigan will increase from $8.50 to $8.90 per hour.
Missouri will increase from $7.65 to $7.70 per hour.
Montana will increase from $8.05 to $8.15 per hour.
New Jersey will increase from $8.38 to $8.44 per hour.
New York will increase from $9 to $9.70 per hour.
Ohio will increase from $8.10 to $8.15 per hour.
South Dakota will increase from $8.55 to $8.65 per hour.
Vermont will increase from $9.60 to $10 per hour.
Washington will increase from $9.47 to $11 per hour.

Employers in these 19 states are required to update their laborlaw posters for employees as minimum wage increases. Labor Law Posters have to be in an area where every employee is able to see them.

Not all minimum wage increases are very significant. Four states -- Alaska, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio -- are raising their minimum wages by just $0.05 per hour, while two more -- Montana and South Dakota -- are seeing just a $0.10-per-hour boost. New Jersey splits the difference with a $0.06-per-hour rise. These increases all have ties to changes in the rate of inflation, with most states choosing to link their minimum wages to rises in one of the Consumer Price Index data series. 

Proponents argue that raising the minimum is one of the most practical ways of improving living standards for the working poor and reducing inequality. But others believe that, when forced to pay more in wages, many employers were hiring more productive workers, so that the overall amount they spent on each job changed far less than the minimum-wage increase would have suggested. The more productive workers appeared to finish similar work more quickly.

This would raise questions about whether increasing the minimum wage is as helpful to those near the bottom of the income spectrum as some proponents assume. The higher minimum wage could cost low-skilled workers their jobs, as employers rush to replace them with somewhat more skilled workers.

In fact, when the minimum wage goes up for everyone, it is not so easy for employers to substitute better-skilled workers because the new minimum would not offer a more attractive wage. In many cases, more highly skilled workers see their wages rise after minimum-wage increases to keep them above the new minimum, making it all the more difficult to lure them away. Therefore, it is difficult for employers to replace low-skilled workers with better-skilled workers.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

OSHA Finds Safety Failures in Wisconsin Factory after Teen Worker Dies from Injuries

A federal investigation prompted by the death of a 17-year-old worker at a Columbus metal fabrication facility has resulted in multiple safety and health violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 16 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations to G.D. Roberts & Co. Inc., for violations the agency’s inspectors found after a machine pinned and injured the teenaged worker on June 27, 2016. He died of his injuries on July 2, 2016, only two weeks after starting job.

“A young man suffered a tragic death shortly after starting a new job, leaving his family to grieve their overwhelming loss,” said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Proper lockout devices along with training could have prevented this tragedy.”

Investigators determined the worker was clearing scrap below a loading table for an operating laser-cutter system when the machine lowered onto the victim, trapping him beneath. OSHA found that the company failed to ensure procedures to lockout the machine to prevent unintentional movement were followed, and did not train its employees properly in such safety procedures.

The agency also found G.D. Roberts failed to:
–        Conduct periodic inspections of machine safety procedures.
–        Affix lockout devices to isolate energy prior to allow employees to enter machine hazard areas.
–        Conduct noise monitoring.
–        Provide employee’s audiograms.
–        Train workers about noise hazards.
–        Follow respiratory protection standards such as fit-testing, training and medical evaluations for employees.
–        Evaluate for airborne hazards.
–        Implement engineering controls for dust and other airborne hazard exposure resulting in employee overexposure.
–        Maintain chemical inventories.
–        Train workers in forklift operation.
–        Seek manufacturer approval prior to modifying forklifts.
–        Train employees about chemicals in use in the workplace and maintain a chemical inventory.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $119,725 to the company.

 OSHA requires standards that safeguard employees from hazardous situations while servicing or maintaining machines and equipment. The standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous machines that are either electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, chemical, or thermal. Employers must comply with the code by establishing procedures for shutting down and locking out and/or tagging out equipment while it is being serviced. The LOCK OUT TAG OUT INSTRUCTIONS poster helps keep your employees safe by presenting the basics of the code and outlining the fundamentals of a lock out/tag out safety program. Hence, besides a comprehensive pre-occupational safety training, complying with requirements of such safety poster could also help you reduce risks and avoid unnecessary costs and penalties.