United States Department of Labor

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April 16, 2015
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: $420,000 average lifetime Wage Gap for Women.

The Best of Our Blog

Each week, this space will bring you the best from our blog.

Timely Lessons for Today's Workers: Our current challenges in the area of worker voice seem just as daunting as those that confronted A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman porters nearly a century ago, writes Mary Beth Maxwell, principal deputy assistant secretary for policy and senior advisor to Secretary Perez.

Why I Shared My 'Lead On Leave' Story: "I know I'm not alone when I say paid leave would take away the financial stress of being out of work to do what is right — to take care of your family," writes Sydney Marino, a mom from Seattle who shared her paid leave story with Secretary Perez.

Take Steps to Increase Your Financial Security: April is National Financial Capability Month, a great time to plan for the future and make informed decisions about your career and retirement, notes Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor at the Employee Benefits Security Administration.


Honoring 'Champions of Change'

Secretary Perez applauds the White House's Champions of Change.  He joined President Obama and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett on April 16 in recognizing the contributions of labor leaders, employers, policymakers, advocates and everyday citizens who stand up for working families. Click for a larger photo.

Across the country, momentum is building for workplace policies that support working families — policies like paid leave, affordable child care and minimum wage increases. On April 16, some of the people leading the charge for those policies were honored at the White House as Champions of Change. Secretary Perez joined President Obama and Valerie Jarrett, the president's senior advisor, in recognizing the contributions of labor leaders, employers, policymakers, advocates and everyday citizens who are standing up on behalf of working families. "Strong families make strong communities. And strong communities make a strong nation," Secretary Perez said. "I'm grateful for the work you all do every day to strengthen families and strengthen our nation."

Watch the Event


Ending Veterans' Homelessness

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness shared progress reports with President Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, at its quarterly meeting on April 14. Secretary Perez, who chairs the council, moderated the discussion that included updates from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson on housing vouchers for veterans. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel discussed the importance of efforts to assist homeless veterans in Indian country, given that Native Americans serve in the military at the highest rate per capita than any other population group. The council also discussed strategies for leveraging large programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Child Welfare, to coordinate services for homeless families. At the meeting, council members approved the appointment of Matthew Doherty as the council's new executive director.

Learn More About the Council


Skills as a Pay Equalizer

Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P.  Lu and tradeswomen who have received training through the Chicago Women in Trades strike the 'Rosie the Riveter' pose following a roundtable discussion on equal pay and nontraditional occupations for women. Click for a larger photo.

Women are achieving higher levels of education and training than ever before, and many are the primary breadwinners in their families. Yet throughout America, women still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. One career path that allows women's pay to catch up with men's is the trades. On April 14, Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu met with a group at Chicago Women in Trades to discuss the challenges that lead to the underrepresentation of women in traditionally male jobs. "This is not a women's issue. It is a family issue and an American issue," Lu said. "Organizations like Chicago Women in Trades play a critical role in addressing the pay gap because they help train women for higher paying, skilled jobs." Lu toured the group's facility, where he met with students like welder Cassia Castillo, who recently passed her first certification. "Welding is an important job. There is always something to learn, and I know if I work hard I will be able to take good care of my family," Castillo said. "I absolutely love it."


Summer Jobs for Youth

Deputy Secretary Lu visits the 19th Annual Arlington Summer Teen Expo where he met with young people seeking summer employment opportunities. Click for a larger photo.

To help jump-start young persons' careers, Deputy Secretary Lu attended the 19th Annual Summer Teen Expo in Arlington, Va. The April 11 event drew more than 900 young people and their parents and featured dozens of employers ranging from small, community-based organizations to major area employers, such as Home Depot and Giant Food. "This issue is especially important to me because my first summer job at a federal agency helped shape my desire to pursue a career in public service," said Lu. "As I learned from my experience, summer jobs can have a significant influence on young people's career opportunities while allowing us to make a strong investment in our future workforce."

Read the blog


Protecting Tower Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is requesting information from the public about worker safety hazards in communication tower construction and maintenance activities. The information will assist the agency in determining what steps it can take to prevent worker injuries and fatalities. Over the past 30 years, the growing demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred a dramatic increase in communication tower construction and maintenance. Communication tower workers risk falls from great heights, structural collapses, electrical hazards, and hazards associated with inclement weather. In the past two years, 25 communication tower workers have died on the job. "We understand the importance of this industry, but workers should not sacrifice their lives for better cell phone reception," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health.

Read the News Release
Learn More About Cell Tower Safety


Expanding Diversity

Expanding the concept of diversity to include disability was the theme of a workshop at a civic engagement and leadership event on April 10 at The Washington Center in Washington, D.C. Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, addressed an audience of college students from across the nation and around the world who are participating in TWC's spring internship semester. "Now more than ever, students with disabilities have a range of career choices and companies eager to access their talents," said Sheehy, who emphasized the importance of bringing all aspects of one's identity to the workplace.

Learn About ODEP


Chemical Hazards Alliance

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and Society for Chemical Hazard Communication President Darlene Susa-Anderson renew an alliance. Click for a larger photo.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration renewed its alliance with the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication to reduce and prevent worker exposure to chemicals hazards on April 13. "Every year, tens of thousands of workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to hazardous chemicals," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Our renewed partnership with SCHC will extend our efforts toward ensuring healthier workers and safer workplaces." OSHA and SCHC will develop information materials on chemical hazards, as well as elements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Safety Data Sheets based on OSHA requirements. In addition, SCHC will host OSHA training seminars and webinars on hazard communication health and safety issues.

Read the News Release


Focused on Job Seekers

As part of the department's effort to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, five new rules, proposed by the departments of Labor and Education, were published in the Federal Register on April 16. The rules seek to streamline and unify federal programs — as well as strengthen collaboration among state and local workforce and education partners — to better assist job seekers, workers and employers as they prepare for the demands of the 21st century economy. Public comment for each of the rules ends on June 15.

Read the News Release
Learn More About WIOA


Seattle Wage Theft Partnership

The City of Seattle recently announced a partnership with the department in wage theft investigations. A Memorandum of Understanding, the first signed by the Wage and Hour Division with a city in its western region, aims to boost the Seattle Police Department's ability to investigate alleged wage theft cases and, when warranted, forward them for review by the City Attorney's Office. The MOU also provides for the exchange of training materials and joint outreach to employers and workers about wage protections. In 2011, the City Council made wage theft — the intentional failure to pay or underpay an employee for work — a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Secretary Perez referenced the MOU earlier in the week during his Seattle visit with city officials and community-based organizations and media.


Landscaper 'Stand-Down'

The contractor industry association, employers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sponsored a one-hour safety stand-down for the landscaping industry in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. From April 8-10, employers voluntarily stopped work from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. to provide safety training for landscapers to protect themselves from the common dangers of falls, being crushed or hit by objects, and electrical hazards. "With three fatalities in the landscaping industry already in 2015, this safety stand-down comes at a critical time," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast. Since June 2012, 34 deaths in the landscaping industry have occurred in the Southeast.

Read the News Release


Farm Labor Workshops

Attendees listen as Rosanna Santana, community outreach and resource planning specialist, talks about federal agriculture labor laws at the Calexico workshop.  Click for a larger photo.

The Wage and Hour Division's West Covina and San Diego district offices co-hosted two joint farm labor contractor workshops in the Coachella Valley and Calexico regions of Southern California on April 7 and 8. Danny Pasquil and Rudy Cortez, district directors, agree that "developing long-standing relationships in these regions through education and outreach is the goal for each one of our offices." As part of a strategic enforcement effort to promote an equal workplace playing field, attendees were educated on their respective agriculture-related regulations and consulate programs available for legal assistance. Partners included the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, California State Division of Occupational Safety and Health, California Highway Patrol and Mexican Consulate of Calexico.


Mine Safety Data Update

The Mine Safety and Health Administration recently released preliminary data for 2014 that includes information about mine inspections, violations, the number of mines and miners in the United States, and fatality and injury rates. The data show that, while the 2014 overall mine operator-reported injury rate improved from the prior year to an historic low, the number of mining deaths and fatality rates increased.

Read the News Release


Outreach in Oklahoma

Between 2011 and 2014, the Wage and Hour Division's Oklahoma City District Office found violations in the majority of its agriculture industry investigations. In order to improve compliance, the division launched a multi-year educational and enforcement initiative in Oklahoma. This year, the agency is reaching out to growers by providing education and technical assistance to increase awareness and, in turn, compliance. Initial efforts will focus on watermelon growers.


Weekly UI Claims

Seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims rose to 294,000 for the week ended April 11, the department reported. The advance figure was up 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 282,750, up 250 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release


Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

May 12 — Indianapolis, IN
May 13 — Indianapolis, IN

EBSA — Get Financially Fit Early in Your Career

April 28 — Webcast

EBSA — Getting It Right: Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities

May 7 — Pasadena, CA
May 19 — Philadelphia, PA

OASAM — Vendor Outreach Session

April 23 — Washington, DC

OFCCP — An OFCCP Audit Through the Eyes of An Investigator

April 21 — Webinar
May 14 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance for Colorado Industry Liaison Group (ILG)

April 29 — Denver, CO

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance for Newly Scheduled Contractors

April 22 — Denver, CO

OFCCP — Compliance Assictance With the SCILG

April 28 — Aiken, SC

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Webinar: New Section 503 and VEVRAA Requirements

May 14 — Anchorage, AK

OFCCP — Construction 16 EEO & Affirmative Action Specifications

May 13 — Arlington, VA

OFCCP — Good Faith Efforts Required by OFCCP

May 7 — Orange, CA

OFCCP — Presentation: Protecting Your Workplace Rights

April 23 — Dallas, TX

OFCCP — Protecting Your Workplace Rights

April 22 — Chicago, IL

OFCCP — Scheduling Letter Updates

May 13 — New Orleans, LA

OLMS — Compliance Assistance Seminar

May 19 — Appleton, WI
May 21 — Maple Grove, MN

OWCP — Traveling Resource Center to Assist Nuclear Weapons Workers

April 28 — Newport News, VA

WHD — Employee or Independent Contractor? Employment Relationship under the FLSA

April 30 — Houston, TX


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What's New

Protecting Consumers From Conflicts of Interest in Retirement Advice

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez at a Financial Literacy Summit co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa on April 15. 'We have a very simple goal, and the goal is this: that you have to look out for your client's interests first,' Perez said. Click for a larger photo.

The department announced a long-awaited, proposed rule on April 14 to reduce conflicts of interest in retirement investment advice. The proposal updates and closes loopholes in a nearly 40-year-old regulation. "Advisers who are paid to provide advice to tax preferred retirement plans and IRAs should put their client's best interests first," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez told reporters. Perez took his message to Chicago on April 15, where he delivered a speech to the Financial Literacy Summit co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa. "The corrosive power of fine print and buried fees can eat away like a chronic illness at a person's savings... we have a very simple goal, and the goal is this — that you have to look out for your client's interests first," Perez told the audience. The proposal, which also offers flexibility in how advisers are paid, will be published in the Federal Register and open for public comment beginning on April 20.

Read the News Release
Learn About the Proposal

Equal Pay Day Shines a Light on Gender Wage Gap

Secretary Perez leads an Equal Pay Day discussion with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Click for a larger photo.

Three powerhouses in the fight for working families spoke to a packed house on Equal Pay Day at the department's headquarters in Washington. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut joined Secretary Perez and Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles to shine a light on the persistent gender wage gap in our country. "When women succeed, America succeeds," proclaimed Jarrett during her remarks. "We need equal pay now." Each speaker reflected on the equal pay movement's accomplishments and discussed the work that remains. Even in 2015, on average, women earn only 78 percent of what men earn. And for women of color, the wage gap is even wider. The speakers remained optimistic about the future of policies that could help women and working families and encouraged the crowd to make their voices heard on these issues. "Know our power, women. We're important to the success of America in every possible way," said Pelosi. In an effort to raise awareness about the wage gap, similar events were held on April 14 by the Women's Bureau throughout the country.

Watch the Event
Learn More About Equal Pay

In Detroit, Hiring Former Inmates Is Beneficial for Businesses

Secretary Perez joins Lalit Kumar, CEO of Sakthi USA, right, for a tour of Sakthi Automotive Group in Detroit on April 15. Sakthi has committed to hiring at least two formerly incarcerated individuals each month as the company ramps up operations in the U.S. The visit was part of a broader effort on behalf of the department to promote programs that are helping former inmates find good, stable jobs to reduce recidivism and strengthen local communities. Click for a larger photo.

For too many Americans who have been caught up in the criminal justice system, finding a path to career and economic stability can be challenging. Studies have shown that lack of job opportunities is a factor in high rates of recidivism. In Detroit on April 15, Secretary Perez met with employers who are playing leading roles in breaking down barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals to help stop the cycle of crime and incarceration. Joined by Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Attorneys Barb McQuade and Patrick Miles, Perez toured the Sakthi Automotive Group, an India-based parts supplier for General Motors. Sakthi has committed to hiring at least two former inmates from Detroit each month as the company ramps up operations in the United States. Following his tour, Perez led a roundtable discussion with other local employers — Detroit Manufacturing Systems and Total Construction and Renovation — that found hiring former inmates has been beneficial to their businesses. Perez's visit came on the heels of several recent grant announcements that will fund job training and employment services for formerly incarcerated individuals seeking marketable skills and good jobs.

Learn About Re-Entry Grant Opportunities


National News

$15 Million in Grants for Disability Employment

Americans with disabilities face many obstacles in life, including those that make their search for employment difficult. To help remove some of these impediments, the department announced on April 13 the availability of approximately $15 million in grants through the Disability Employment Initiative. The grants will be made available to state workforce agencies to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in federally funded education and training programs. "People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy and our society, but they remain disproportionately represented among our nation's unemployed," said Secretary Perez. "These grants will help build strong ladders of opportunity to the middle-class for these workers." The grants align closely with the Obama administration's job-driven training principles by requiring multiple workforce and disability service providers, educational institutions and businesses in each state to collaborate extensively with each other. Workforce agencies have until June 11 to apply.

Read the News Release
Learn More About DEI
Apply for Funding

Training Funds to Help Veterans Overcome Homelessness

Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program funding of $4 million is available to provide an estimated 2,000 veterans with job-driven training for in-demand jobs to help them successfully transition from homelessness to sustainable housing and good civilian jobs. Homeless veterans may receive occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. "Through partnerships and the aggressive delivery of supportive services, we are proving that we can indeed meet President Obama's ambitious goal of ending veterans' homelessness by the end 0f 2015," said Secretary Perez.

Read the Grant Announcement


International Scene

Youth Project Set for El Salvador and Honduras

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs has announced $13 million in funding available for project proposals to help at-risk youth in El Salvador and Honduras develop marketable skills and secure good employment. The Project to Promote Youth Employment through Employer Partnerships in El Salvador and Honduras will help to develop market-relevant skills training programs for at-risk youth ages 14 to 20, including those under 18 who are vulnerable to exploitive child labor. "At-risk youth at home and abroad share similar struggles," said Secretary Perez. "They work hard to overcome poverty and escape gang violence, but the deck is stacked against them without access to a good education and good jobs." President Obama announced the new funding on April 9 as part of a $68 million commitment to the region's youth at a town hall with young leaders in Kingston, Jamaica.

Read the News Release

Policy Leaders Tackle New and Emerging Global Issues

As the global labor market adjusts to demographic shifts and new technologies, policymakers around the world must grapple with how to respond to new and emerging models of work. Over the years, labor policy leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand have come together to address these challenges at the annual Windsor Conference. Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, participated in this year's conference held April 13-15 in Vancouver, Canada. She shared how the U.S. economy has fared since the Great Recession and highlighted new programs that are helping prepare the workforce for new, in-demand jobs. According to Wu, the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is helping build a strong foundation for innovative workforce training programs, as well as the Obama administration's focus on apprenticeship and building effective partnerships with community colleges and other training providers at the state and local levels.


DOL Working for You

Introducing Students to the World of Work

From left, David Francis, Jalen Melendez, teacher Laura Hanrahan, Alexandra Patricio, Eliezer Collado, and Antonio Pellot. Click for a larger photo.

The Office of Workers Compensation Programs processes benefits for federal employees and other types of workers who have been injured on the job. But for more than 30 years, OWCP's Richard Robilotti and Manfred Kurtz have provided a different sort of benefit for special needs students from P.S. M721, the Manhattan Occupational Training Center. Each day, students head to the New York federal office for real-world work experience. It may include general office processes and collating important mailings to workers seeking disability compensation for on-the-job injuries, activities which provide the students a sense of accomplishment and practice in developing interpersonal, or "soft," skills. Student David Francis, 21, of Manhattan, says: "I like to stuff the envelopes and to help mail them because people are depending on me." Notes the students' teacher, Laura Hanrahan: "This experience has given them all a lot of exposure to office etiquette, such as communicating effectively, making proper greetings, knowing when to say 'thank you,' and interpersonal relationship skills." The students remain with the program until graduation, while participating in other occupational programs at libraries, city offices and commercial businesses. In the end, and with the help of on-the-job training, many of these students go on to graduate and pursue gainful employment.


DOL in Action

Railroad Retaliation Nets $100,000 for Injured Worker

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that management of the Union Pacific Railroad added insult to injury when it blamed a worker who was injured on the job and then suspended him without pay for reporting his injury. Union Pacific violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act when it retaliated against the employee for reporting to his supervisors that he was hurt while lifting materials and equipment. OSHA has ordered the railroad to pay the worker $100,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. Since 2001, Union Pacific has faced more than 200 whistleblower complaints nationwide.

Read the News Release

California Caregivers to Receive $101,000 in Back Wages, Damages

Assisted living employer Escueta Care Home, with three locations in Hayward, Calif., failed to pay caregivers the overtime premium for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week. Wage and Hour Division investigators established that 14 caregivers working at the three locations were owed $50,666 in unpaid overtime wages and an additional $50,666 in damages. The employer has agreed to pay all back wages due and assessed damages. "We continue to see widespread violations in an industry where unscrupulous employers are cheating their workers of their basic employment rights," said Susana Blanco, the division's district director in San Francisco.

Read the News Brief

Chicago Dryer Co. Put Workers at Risk Operating Damaged Cranes

In an October 2014 inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, investigators cited Chicago Dryer Co. for one willful and 20 serious safety and health violations. The company endangered its workers when it used damaged crane slings to carry 3,000-pound cylinders. "When a press brake lacks safety features, one slip and a worker can lose a hand," said Angeline Loftus, area director of OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines. The company faces $171,000 in proposed penalties.

Read the News Release

Worker Loses Fingertip Because Machine Lacked Safety Controls

On just his second day on the job, a 28-year-old man working on a machine to forge parts lost a fingertip in an incident that investigators say was preventable. Wodin, Inc., in Bedford Heights, Ohio, failed to train the worker on how to properly operate the machine, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. As a result of its investigation of the November 2014 incident, OSHA cited 23 serious safety violations and proposed penalties of $80,500.

Read the News Release

Tennessee Fiduciary Sued to Restore Retirement Plan

James H. Carmichael and The Specialty Restaurant Group LLC, of Maryville, Tenn., are being sued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration to restore all losses to the company's 401(k) retirement and health plan. An EBSA investigation found the defendants failed in their fiduciary responsibilities by not forwarding employee contributions and loan payments to the 401(k) plan and withheld employee contributions for insurance premium payments. This resulted in the medical plan's cancellation and participants' unpaid claims. The department is seeking to have the defendants restore all losses to the 401(k) plan, including interest or lost opportunity costs, restore to the health plan participants all of their withheld insurance premiums and reimburse all of the affected unpaid medical claims, and to permanently enjoin Carmichael from serving as a fiduciary in the future. The damages total $117,408.

Read the News Brief

Chemical Releases at Texas Plant Trigger an Inspection

After a Point Comfort, Texas, natural gas processing facility experienced five incidents of chemical releases in three days that resulted in worker injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began investigating the Formosa Plastics Corp. facility in October 2014. OSHA cited Formosa for eight safety and health violations for not having adequate permits or conducting preventative maintenance; improper maintenance of equipment that contributed to the release of sulfuric acid and chlorine; not providing face shields to workers who removed sulfuric acid from storage tanks; and not requiring employees to wear respiratory protection when exposed to a chlorine vapor cloud. Six subcontractors were also cited.

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Settlement Agreement to Address Foundry Hazards

A Wisconsin foundry signed a comprehensive settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to resolve health violations at the company's facilities in Browntown. Under the terms of the agreement, Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries will abate all health hazards identified by OSHA in an October 2014 inspection, including one serious and three repeated violations for failing to properly fit and train workers for respirator use and train workers about hazardous chemicals found in the workplace. Grede will pay $98,000 in OSHA penalties and make other improvements in the plant. "These citations reflect that the company still has some ground to cover in its efforts to modernize the facility and management systems. However, OSHA has seen significant improvements in commitment to safety under the new ownership," said Chad Greenwood, OSHA Assistant Area Director in Madison.

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New York Plant Inspection Finds 48 Safety Violations

A manufacturer of custom-sized resin balls used as flotation devices in the petroleum and fracking industries failed to protect its employees from the risk of death or serious injury from potential fires, explosions and other hazards, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA identified 48 violations of workplace safety and health standards at A. Hyatt Ball Co. Inc.'s plant in Fort Edward, N.Y., during its October 2014 investigation and proposed $105,200 in fines. The plant lacked a program to safely manage elements of the manufacturing process that involves storing or using more than 1,000 pounds of formaldehyde. In addition, combustible resin dust was present; flammable liquids were improperly stored and transferred; there was no audible fire alarm and fire-suppression system; and exit routes were locked or obstructed.

Read the News Release
Learn About Process Safety Management

Property Management Companies Sued for Underpaying Workers

A Wage and Hour Division investigation found that four Syracuse, N.Y., businesses and their owner, Michael McCaffrey, violated the overtime, minimum wage, recordkeeping and anti-retaliation requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to investigators, the violations affected employees who traveled to foreclosed properties in four states to mow lawns, winterize homes, change locks and do light construction work. The defendants paid some employees in cash off the books when they worked more than 80 hours in a two-week period; denied some employees the minimum wage by not paying them at all for their last one or two weeks of work; failed to keep records of hours worked and cash wages paid; and fired an employee for cooperating with the investigation. The department asked the court to require the defendants to pay employees the back wages due them plus an equal amount in liquidated damages, plus reinstate the fired worker and pay him lost wages and damages.

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Saipan Divers Get $20,000 in Back Wages

A Wage and Hour Investigation found that divers did not receive required overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week at Seashore Saipan, a dive shop in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Instead, they received flat salaries without regard to how many hours they had worked. The employer also was cited for recordkeeping violations. As a result of the investigation, Seashore Saipan paid $20,040 in back wages due to five employees for minimum wage and overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. "Method of compensation, such as a guaranteed salary, does not waive an employer's obligation to pay front-line workers a half-time premium for overtime hours worked," said Terence Trotter, the division's director in Honolulu.

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Agreement Reached With Sacramento-area Supermarket Chain

A California supermarket chain has agreed to pay $277,319 in back wages and damages to 248 current and former workers. This action follows a Wage and Hour Division investigation that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act at the Roseville and Vacaville, Calif., locations. According to investigators, Save Smart Supermarkets failed to include bonuses in the rate of pay when computing overtime for employees working in the distribution centers. The employer has agreed to pay all back wages and liquidated damages and comply with all provisions of the FLSA.

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Illinois Roofing Contractor Lets Fall Protection Equipment Sit Idle

A nine-person crew was observed working without fall protection at a job site in Des Plaines, Ill., because its employer failed to require its use despite its availability. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors cited C.I.C. Corp. for one willful and five serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to falls and serious health hazards and proposed fines of $73,290. "It is disheartening that this contractor, which was cited for the same safety violations in 2011 and 2013, allowed life-saving equipment to sit unused at a job site where, in just seconds, a worker could fall and suffer critical injuries," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for the Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines.

Read the News Release

Two Mechanics Fatally Crushed in Idaho Incidents

Two workers in the Idaho Falls, Idaho, area were killed in separate incidents last January when the vehicles they were working under fell from their makeshift supports and crushed them. A mechanic performing transmission work for VH Trucking & Construction LLC, of Menan was killed when the truck he was working under fell from the wooden blocks supporting the vehicle. Two weeks later, an employee of Cross's Crashes Inc., an Idaho Falls-based salvage yard, was fatally crushed when a van fell on him from supporting wheel rims. An inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Boise Area Office found that neither company had basic safety programs or precautions in place nor took the necessary steps to secure the vehicles to prevent them from falling. Since September 2014, five of the nine workplace deaths in Idaho involved workers crushed by vehicles.

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Company Falsified Records to Disguise Overtime

More than three dozen workers at a Silicon Valley company will receive more than $282,000 in overtime and damages after investigators found the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the investigation, Advanced Design, Engineering & Manufacturing LLC did not pay its workers the required one and one-half times the regular pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a work week. Investigators also found the company instead paid straight time rates for these hours, and disguised the wages on its records as bonuses. "Falsifying records to disguise overtime as straight time, and labeling the payments as bonuses is illegal and unacceptable," said San Francisco Wage and Hour District Director Susana Blanco.

Read the News Release

Ohio Company Cited in Electrocution of 33-Year-Old Worker

Following the electrocution of a 33-year-old maintenance worker at a scrap management facility in Miamisburg, Ohio, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection. OSHA found that Metal Shredders Inc. failed to protect the welder from an energized electrical line while he was cutting a metal roof off an industrial transformer substation. Cohen Brothers, the parent company, also was issued three serious safety violations for failing to train employees in electrical safe work practices. "This was a tragic death that could have been prevented by following basic safety practices for working with high voltage transmission lines," said Ken Montgomery, OSHA Area Director in Cincinnati.

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Metal Fabricator Workers Exposed to Amputation Hazards

After receiving a report of an amputation at a metal fabricator facility in Houston, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection at M&M Manufacturing Co., LLC. OSHA's Houston North Area Office cited the company for failing to disable potentially hazardous machinery and not guarding machine parts, which exposed workers to amputation hazards. The company was also cited for failing to guard equipment in which workers might get caught and injured. Proposed penalties total $55,000.

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Federal Inspectors Happen Upon Fall Hazards at Residential Site

Workers at Rock Hard Homes, Inc., a Connecticut residential home builder, were exposed to potentially fatal fall hazards, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found. OSHA began an inspection of the Southbury, Conn., builder in November 2014 after inspectors driving by the work site observed the fall protection hazards. One serious and four repeated violations were issued to the builder, and a penalty of $52,360 has been proposed.

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Bridge Painters Face Lead Hazards in Massachusetts

Responding to a report of elevated lead blood levels in workers performing abrasive blasting and painting on the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge in Fall River, Mass., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found excess levels of lead on various surfaces where the employees of Allied Painting Inc., worked, changed clothing and ate. Employees also were exposed to fall hazards of more than 100 feet because of access ladder obstructions and insufficient heights for temporary railings. As a result, OSHA cited the New Jersey-based contractor for six serious violations of workplace health and safety standards with $41,580 in proposed fines.

Read the News Brief

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