United States Department of Labor

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January 16, 2014
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Putting People First

United States Department of Labor: 1913-2013 - 100 Years. Then, Now, Next.

When Robert Reich came to the Labor Department in 1993, he was regarded as one of the most dazzling economic minds in the country — a Rhodes scholar, Harvard professor and best-selling author. As secretary, he was instrumental in establishing the Family and Medical Leave Act, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was also (and remains) a champion for a fair living wage, pushing hard to enact President Clinton's proposal for a minimum wage increase from $4.25 an hour to $5.15 over two years. Before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in February 1995, Reich elucidated the moral and economic principles behind raising the minimum wage, saying, "Work ennobles and gives meaning. Any American who works hard and plays by the rules ought to have a fair chance to get ahead. The current minimum wage betrays

President Bill Clinton and Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary in Clinton's administration. Credit: Joe Marquette, AP. Click for a larger photo.

those ideals. It's not a livable wage. And to suggest it's 'good enough' mocks the values we claim to hold dear." His advocacy worked; in 1996, President Clinton signed new minimum wage legislation. In the years since Reich left the department, he has remained a leading voice for economic justice. He continues to be a prolific writer and commentator. His film Inequality for All was released last year.

Read Reich's "Books that Shaped Work" Entry
Read Reich's 1995 Minimum Wage Testimony
View the Centennial Timeline
View the Centennial Video
Suggest a Centennial Moment


Unemployment Wage Myth Buster

Myth: People receiving long-term unemployment benefits are less motivated to search for work.

Not true: Not only are people who receive extended unemployment benefits required to search for work as a condition of those benefits, studies have shown that beneficiaries of extended UI spend more time searching for work than those who were ineligible for UI benefits. A report by the congressional Joint Economic Committee in 2011 also found that extended UI benefits keep the unemployed attached to the labor force longer than for unemployed individuals not receiving UI benefits, making them more likely to find work.

Read the Report
Learn More About the Long-term Unemployed


Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

Each week, this space will bring you the best from our (Work in Progress) blog.

3 Out of 4 Americans Agree: It's Time to Raise the Wage: Secretary Perez on the popular support and proud bipartisan history of raising the minimum wage.

Dispelling the Myths of the Long-Term Unemployed: The truth about daily life for the long-term unemployed from Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Eric Seleznow.

Improving Hospital Safety Culture — Cincinnati Children's Hospital: Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, on how one Ohio hospital has become a recognized leader in workplace safety.


Books that Shaped Work in America

New Books on the List

The list of Books that Shape Work in America continues to grow. We are now up to 106 titles. The latest additions are: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," written by Roald Dahl and published in 1964; "Strangers from a Different Shore" by Ronald Takaki and published in 1989; "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner and published in 1971; and "Drive" by Daniel Pink, published in 2009. This is the second book on the list by Pink. His 2002 book, "Free Agent Nation," is also on the list.

Read the Blog Post
Books that Shaped Work in America


Flying Off the Shelves in Georgia

The Books that Shaped Work in America display at the Gwinnett County Library in Dacula, Georgia. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The Georgia Public Library Service, in partnership with the department, is promoting the Books That Shaped Work in America project. The Gwinnett County Public Library in Dacula, Ga., has created a large display of featured books available in their library. The display showcases books that have been recommended to the list as well as local patron and staff favorites. "Since we started the display we are having a hard time keeping the books in stock and often have to take books off the display to meet demand," said Susan Kosenka, deputy branch manager in Dacula. "The most popular book by far has been 'Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.'" Konseka, a self-admitted fashionista, said her favorite book on the list is "The Devil Wears Prada."

View the Slideshow


Hiring Fair for Veterans

Veterans' Employment and Training Service Chief of Staff Michael Bocchini (left) and Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS Keith Kelly (center) visit with James Parker a veterans' employment representative for the Virginia Employment Commission. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Veterans attending the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes job fair in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10 received words of encouragement and career pointers from Keith Kelly, the assistant secretary of labor who heads the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. In one encounter, Army Reservist Joshua Hammond shared his resume with Kelly and said he was looking for employment in the accounting field. Kelly suggested Hammond visit his local American Job Center for career counseling help and job placement. According to the chamber, more than 700 veterans signed up for the event. Approximately 105 potential employers participated, including Hilton hotels, Capital One, Starbucks, the U.S. Secret Service and Verizon.

Visit the American Job Center
View the Slideshow


Listening to Learn

From left to right, employment law expert John Fox, OFCCP Director Pat Shiu, and Policy Director Debra Carr listen to comments from DirectEmployers Association members. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Two regulations aimed at improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities and veterans will go into effect March 24. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs staff are engaging business leaders in a series of listening sessions on the regulations. OFCCP Director Pat Shiu, Policy Director Debra Carr and Branch Chief Naomi Levin met with 20 board members and staff from the Equal Employment Advisory Council on Jan. 13, and three days later OFCCP hosted a listening session at department headquarters for nearly 440 members of DirectEmployers Association. Information gathered from these and other listening sessions will help shape agency training and inform development of resource materials to assist federal contractors.

Learn About OFCCP's Veterans Rule
Learn About OFCCP's Disability Rule
View the Slideshow


Fall Prevention Billboard Campaign

The billboards prominently display OSHA's campaign message. Falls can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps: Plan, Provide and Train. Click for a larger photo.

Local safety advocates and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have launched a fall prevention billboard campaign in Phoenix to help prevent injuries and fatal falls in the construction industry. OSHA's Phoenix Area Office director Zachary Barnett attended the unveiling of the campaign on Jan. 7, along with Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates. Representatives from a number of collaborating federal, state and local agencies also were present. "Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and these deaths are preventable," Barnett said. In 2010, 264 of the 774 fatalities in construction were attributed to falls. Campaign partners include the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the City of Phoenix, Banner Health, Capital Safety, the American Society of Safety Engineers, Clear Channel, Arizona Business Association, ACTA Safety, National Safety Council, Kids' Chance, Super Anchor Safety, Utility Safety Technologies and the CPWR Center for Construction Research and Training.

Read About OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign
Learn About Construction Falls Campaign


Saluting the Safety Trainers

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels (center) joins members of Make the Road New York: Luz Ochoa, Job and Placement Coordinator Arturo Archila, Cesar Palomeque, Gillermo Serna and Jaime Rogel at the graduation ceremony of Spanish-language safety trainers in New York City on Jan. 9. Click for a larger photo.

Training workers in a language and vocabulary they understand was the cornerstone of a recent "train the trainer" course offered by worker safety groups in New York and New Jersey. With funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 29 individuals completed OSHA 500 train the trainer program courses. These classes are designed to provide Spanish-language safety training to workers, primarily in construction. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, joined staff from the United Steelworkers' Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education, as well as from several worker centers in the New York metropolitan area, for a graduation ceremony of certified Spanish-language trainers on Jan. 9. "By empowering workers with knowledge about common hazards and their rights, we improve the health and well-being of the workers, and the whole community," said Dr. Michaels.


Safety Datapalooza

Safety efforts in transportation, food, and occupational and consumer product safety, as well as tools to improve disaster preparedness and emergency response were on display Jan. 14 at the Second Annual White House Safety Datapalooza. The event highlighted innovators from all sectors who are using government data to build products, services, and apps that advance public safety in creative and powerful ways. Senior officials from across the government, including Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris, highlighted safety-data efforts in their agencies. Liberating data, Harris said, "allows the public to help us do our job better, to hold us accountable and to come up with innovative ways of changing public behavior in ways that betters the lives of the families we serve. The Labor Department's Xavier Hughes and Sven Rundman led a session with entrepreneurs and data innovators on ways to prevent hearing loss due to exposure to workplace noise, stemming from reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss in the last decade.

Read More About Safety Datapalooza
Learn More About Safety Data on Twitter


Chemical Facility Safety

The sixth public listening session for Executive Order 13650 on Chemical Facility Safety and Security was facilitated by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels on Jan. 14. The executive order tasks federal agencies to review safety rules applied to chemical facilities, and came in response to the catastrophic explosion in West Texas last April. The specific section of the order discussed during the meeting focuses on the modernization of policy, regulation and standards related to preventing these major chemical accidents and the effects they have on communities, workers and emergency responders. The session also included remarks and participation by a panel of working group members from the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Justice. The next listening session will be hosted on Jan. 24, in Houston.

Read About OSHA's Role in EO 13650
Read the Executive Order


Silica Rule Webchat

To encourage public participation in the development of the proposed rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hosted a live webchat on Jan. 14. The chat gave participants the chance to connect with OSHA officials on questions related to the health risks, potential costs and benefits, and economic impacts associated with the proposed rule. The event also provided small businesses, safety and health administrators, the general public and other stakeholders the opportunity to seek clarification on the proposed rule, learn about the regulatory process and find out how to submit comments to the rulemaking record. The deadline for comments is Jan. 27, and public hearings begin March 18.

Submit a Comment
Read Webchat Transcript


Did You Know?

Minimum Wage and Economic Growth

#RAISETHEWAGE — Minimum Wage Workers Not Reaping the Benefits of Economic Growth Chart. Click for a larger photo.

While the stock market soared throughout 2013, workers at the bottom of the income ladder continued to fall behind. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high 52 times last year. Since its recession low in March 2009, the Dow has gained 150 percent. That's good news for high-income earners and those with retirement savings, and it's a reflection of the nation's economic recovery. However, the cost of living has climbed more than 8 percent over the past 5 years while the buying power of the federal minimum wage has fallen 7.6 percent. Indeed, the buying power of the federal minimum wage has been on a steady decline for 46 years. It was last increased more than 4 years ago. An increase to $10.10 per hour as supported by President Obama would mean nearly $6,000 more per year for a full-time employee earning the minimum wage, and with tax credits, enough to lift a family of four above the poverty line.

Learn More About the Minimum Wage


Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 326,000 for the week ending Jan. 11, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 335,000, down 13,500 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release


Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

OASAM — Vendor Outreach Session

January 22 — Washington, DC

OFCCP — Affirmative Action Program Development for Small or First-Time Supply and Service Contractors

January 23 — Baltimore, MD
January 29 — Los Angeles, CA

OFCCP — Best Practices for Corporate Management Compliance Evaluations

February 12 — Memphis, TN

OFCCP — Construction Compliance Evaluations in 16 Steps

January 22 — Detroit, MI
January 28 — Atlanta, GA
February 4 — San Francisco, CA

OFCCP — Employers' Forum: Charting a Course for Employing Individuals with Disabilities

January 23 — Phoenix, AZ

OFCCP — Essential Elements of The AAP Part I

February 18 — Webinar

OFCCP — Laws Enforced by OFCCP

February 19 — Detroit, MI

OFCCP — Scheduling and AAP Requirements

February 21 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — What To Expect During An OFCCP Audit

January 21 — Atlanta, GA
February 6 — Richmond, VA
February 18 — Atlanta, GA

OFCCP — OFCCP Overview

February 18 — Birmingham, AL


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What's New

Ingenuity, Training Make American Goods Shine in Detroit

Secretary Perez checks out one of the new model Fords at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Jan. 13.  Perez toured the auto show and had the opportunity to discuss job growth and innovation in the auto industry with industry leaders. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

American ingenuity, jobs and workers were the focus of a whirlwind tour of Detroit by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on Jan. 13. Perez began his day at the North American International Auto Show, where he was joined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and members of the Michigan congressional delegation. He assessed the new lineup of automobiles and talked to industry leaders about growth in the auto industry. Later that day, the group of dignitaries met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and William F. Jones Jr., director of Focus: HOPE Family Learning Center for Advanced Technologies, where they participated in a roundtable discussion on opportunities to strengthen transportation career pathways, and enhance skills training, industry and community partnerships. Perez then met students and staff while touring the training facility. "I look at the Department of Labor as the Department of Opportunity," he said. "We try to match the right worker with the right employer. We do that by supporting strong community programs like Focus: HOPE." Perez also meet with staff and students at the UAW-Ford Technical Training Center and visited Shinola, a company that manufactures watches, bicycles and leather goods. The visit was part of the Obama administration's efforts to enhance local economic revitalization and ensure that existing resources effectively support local priorities.

Listen to NPR's Interview
View the Slideshow

On Capitol Hill, Making the Case for a Minimum Wage Hike

Secretary Perez speaks on the importance of increasing the minimum wage at a Capitol Hill event organized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Secretary Perez joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other senior Democrats on Jan. 15 to call for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. At the Capitol Hill event, Perez said that "addressing persistent income inequality is some of America's most urgent unfinished business." He noted that the purchasing power of the minimum wage has declined sharply in recent years, keeping hardworking people from being able to afford a decent living. "The value of the minimum wage simply has not kept up with the cost of living, the price of all the essentials a family needs to survive, whether it's a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, a month's rent, clothing for your children and more," he said. Pelosi pointed out that millions would benefit from an increase, a proposal that has broad popular support. "The American people know that raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do," she said. Also speaking was waitress Anna Hovland of Washington, D.C., who called for an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers. "Hard work deserves an honest wage," she said. "Tips are not constant, and the least I should be able to rely on is a fair minimum wage."

View the Slideshow
Read the Blog Post

In Miami, Urging Young Adults to Sign Up for Health Insurance

Secretary Perez joins former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and  current University of Miami President Donna Shalala  to talk about quality, affordable health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

With nearly a quarter of its population lacking health insurance, Florida is one of the uninsured capitals of the country. To see how the Affordable Care Act is helping to turn the tide, Secretary Perez traveled to Miami this week. At Jackson Memorial Hospital, a part of the University of Miami, Perez joined his mentor, former U.S. secretary of health and human services and current University of Miami president Donna E. Shalala to talk about the progress in ACA implementation and to encourage nearly 160,000 young adults in Miami to explore their health coverage options. Joining them was Carlos Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, and Maria Belen Coro, one of the many health-care navigators raising ACA awareness through door-to-door canvassing in targeted neighborhoods and through engagement at fairs, concerts, malls and on social media. Since October, more than 158,000 Floridians have enrolled in participating plans. Perez also visited Miami Dade College, where he met with college president Dr. Eduardo Padron and civic leaders from the Miami area. Surrounded by representatives of business and local government and Miami Dade graduates, Perez talked about the importance of a community-wide approach to skills development and job training and his vision of providing opportunity for workers and companies. He capped off the trip as the luncheon speaker at the South Florida Economic Summit organized by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. In encouraging employers to get involved with the work of the department, Perez said, "Skills, immigration, infrastructure, jobs and opportunity — these are critical to your success as business leaders and they are critical to our success as Americans."

Visit healthcare.gov
View the Slideshow


National News

Implementing Corrective Actions in 2010 Mine Explosion

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has addressed the 100 recommendations published in a March 2012 internal review report of the agency's actions preceding the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, which killed 29 miners, injured two and led to sweeping changes in mine safety. "The internal review was designed to identify shortcomings so that we, as an agency, could take necessary actions to improve mine safety and health," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The result was one of the most comprehensive internal reviews in MSHA history, and the most extensive improvements at the agency in decades." Among the corrective actions MSHA put into place were the revision or development of more than 40 policy directives, creation of a centralized system to establish better oversight of all agency directives and policy guidance and to ensure their consistency, training sessions for MSHA personnel, and creation of a national mine rescue organization to support and provide guidance on mine rescue.

Read the News Release
Read MSHA's Corrective Actions
Listen to Main's Summary
Read the Blog Post

Rebuilding Lives for Victims of Human Trafficking

In recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the White House has released the first-ever Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. The plan lays out a five-year path for increased coordination, collaboration, and capacity across the federal government and in partnership with other governmental and nongovernmental entities. It describes the steps that federal agencies will take to ensure that victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified and have access to the services they need to recover and to rebuild their lives. At the department, that means enhancing the ability of Wage and Hour investigators to detect potential cases and refer them to law enforcement partners. It also means enhancing the public workforce system's ability to provide employment and training services to survivors. The plan builds on commitments expressed by President Obama to provide support to trafficking victims, whom he addressed when he said, "We see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity. And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams"

Read the Plan
Read a White House Blog Post


News You Can Use

New Website on Hospital Safety

Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Worker Safety in Hospitals website.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has introduced a suite of online resources to support hospitals in fostering a safer workplace for employees and patients. The extensive materials include fact books, self-assessments and best-practice guides designed to help hospitals prevent worker injuries and illness, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling and implement safety and health management systems. "These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. In a teleconference held on Jan. 15, Dr. Michaels was joined by Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Dr. Lucian Leape, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation; and Dr. Erin S. DuPree, chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Read the News Release
Read the Blog Post
Read About Worker Safety in Hospitals


It Happened on the Hill

Testifying on December Jobs Report to Joint Economic Committee

Following the release of the Employment Situation report for December 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica L. Groshen traveled to Capitol Hill to testify in front of the Joint Economic Committee, whose members come from the House of Representatives and the Senate. Groshen provided an overview of the data in the report, including the 74,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls and the decline in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent in December. Following her testimony, Groshen fielded several questions from congressional members on topics ranging from employment growth trends, labor force participation rates and veteran unemployment rates.

Read Groshen's Opening Statement
Watch the Video of the Committee Hearing


Around DOL

Farewell Deputy Secretary Harris

Sen. Harkin and Deputy Secretary Harris in the department's Great Hall on Jan. 15. Click for a larger photo.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris ended his last day on the job just as he started his first — emphasizing the values at the heart of the department's work and his commitment to performance management. In highlighting the accomplishments of the department over the last five years, Harris credited "the 17,000 patriots who are U.S. Department of Labor employees" for making it all possible. Harris was honored in the Great Hall on Jan. 15 by an impressive array of guests, including former Secretary Robert Reich, Sen. Tom Harkin, and White House Cabinet Secretary Danielle Gray. Speaking of his friend and colleague, Secretary Perez recalled, "On the day he was sworn in, Seth hoped his kids would one day look back proudly and say their Dad helped Barack Obama make the world a better place. Today, they can do that." Solicitor M. Patricia Smith took the reins as acting deputy secretary on Jan. 16.


DOL Working for You

Job Corps Student Scores Hi-Tech Career

Edward Ortega. Click for a larger photo.

Eric Ortega of Illinois is an excellent example of how the Job Corps program prepares its students to enter high-demand computer jobs. Ortega enrolled in Chicago's Paul Simon Job Corps Center with the goal of becoming a computer service technician. He received training and certification in PC components, functionality, compatibility and related technology topics. "Job Corps helped me re-evaluate myself and get the education I needed to start my high-tech career," Ortega said. After a brief stint in college, he left when a variety of job offers came his way. Ortega is now working full time as a computer systems engineer for a high-tech company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer field is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Read BLS' Occupational Outlook Handbook


DOL in Action

California Company Restores Nearly $2 Million in Pension Benefits

Lange Trucking Inc. has been debarred from eligibility for service contracts with any federal agency for three years for its failure to pay drivers required fringe benefits. An investigation of the Oakland, Calif., company resulted in the restoration of $1,979,779 in 401(k) pension benefits to 515 drivers working on U.S. Postal Service contracts because of violations of the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act. "Contractors that do business with the federal government have an obligation to abide by the law and pay their employees the required contractual rates and benefits," said Secretary Perez. "Restoring the pension benefits of these workers and debarring this employer illustrate the department's commitment to vigorous enforcement of government contracting laws and helps level the playing field for law-abiding employers."

Read the News Release

Roofing Manufacturer Repeatedly Failed to Protect Workers

U.S. Minerals LLC in Baldwin, Ill., has been issued six safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide fall protection and personal protective equipment, and to implement procedures to control hazardous energy. The company faces $195,470 in penalties for repeat violations at the facility. U.S. Minerals was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in December 2010 after OSHA found multiple violations at its facilities in Baldwin and Coffeen, Ill., Galveston, Texas, and Harvey, La. The company is headquartered in Dyer, Ind., and manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants.

Read the News Release

Ruling in Sago Mine Explosion Overturned

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has overturned a decision by an administrative law judge involving Wolf Run Mining Co.'s Sago Mine in Upshur County, W.Va., where 12 miners died in a massive explosion on Jan. 2, 2006. The commission found that the mine operator's failure to notify the Mine Safety and Health Administration and mine rescue teams immediately after the explosion involved unwarrantable failure and high negligence. "Although eight years have passed, the memories of that tragic day have not diminished," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We are grateful for the commission's decision in this case reaffirming the importance of immediate reporting of mine accidents." In addition, the commission assessed the company with proposed penalties of $1,500 and $13,000 for two separate citations.

Read the News Release

Cypress, Texas, Trenching Collapse Kills Worker and Injures Another

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Municipal District Services LLC in Cypress, Texas, for one willful violation after a December 2013 trenching collapse in Cypress resulted in a fatality and an injury. To repair a water main, the company excavated a trench through a concrete road. The trench was 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and 8-to-10 feet deep. Two workers entered the unprotected trench to clean up and cut a broken pipe. After approximately 5-to-10 minutes inside the trench, the south wall of the excavation caved in. A willful violation was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection for workers in a trench or excavation. "Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations, but they can be performed in a safe manner by using proper safety equipment, such as trench boxes, consistently," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director in the Houston North Office.

Read the News Release

Worker Fatally Injured in Fall at Missouri Feed Supplier

MFA Inc. has been issued 13 serious safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a worker was fatally injured on Aug. 26 at the Aurora, Mo.-based milling plant. The worker landed on a first floor concrete area after falling about 40 feet from a man lift used to transport materials in the facility. Violations such as failing to guard open-sided floors throughout the plant and inadequate footing space on industrial ladder were cited. Proposed fines total $91,000. MFA Inc. is a milling plant that grinds products to be used in farm and pet foods.

Read the News Release

Lack of Adequate Controls for Infectious Disease Found at VA Facility

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in southern Oregon has been issued a notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions for violations found during an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA identified 17 safety and health violations, including 10 serious and five repeat violations, at the VA's Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City. Violations included lack of adequate controls for infectious disease; an inadequate exposure control plan, which potentially exposed transitional work employees to bloodborne pathogens; and lack of access to rapid HIV tests after occupational exposures. The inspection also found improperly stored sharps containers and flammable materials, and negligence in maintaining facilities. OSHA's Portland Area Office has conducted 15 inspections of VA medical facilities in Oregon in the last five years, resulting in 20 repeat and 39 serious violations.

Read the News Release

Connecticut Manufacturer Cited for Chemical Hazards

StanChem Inc., an East Berlin, Conn., manufacturer of specialty coatings and polymers, faces $55,300 in proposed fines following an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hartford Area Office. OSHA cited the company for 13 serious violations, mostly dealing with deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program, which is supposed to identify, address and eliminate hazards associated with processes using, storing, manufacturing, handling or moving of large amounts of highly hazardous chemicals onsite. In this case, the hazardous chemical is the flammable liquid vinyl acetate, which is used in large amounts at the company's plant.

Read the News Release

Illinois Postal Workers Exposed to Amputation Hazards

The U.S. Postal Service facility in Champaign, Ill., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for eight safety violations carrying proposed fines of $144,000. OSHA's complaint inspection found that the workers, who scanned mail and placed it on a conveyor to be dumped into the appropriate bag or container, had been instructed to push an e-stop before clearing jams. The workers were not trained or authorized to lock out equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of the conveyor while clearing jams, exposing them to laceration and amputation hazards.

Read the News Release

Arizona Car Wash to Pay Back Wages, Penalties

TNT Car Wash & Quick Lube has agreed to pay $107,307 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to 89 employees working at two locations in Glendale and Surprise, Ariz. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the company failed to pay for all hours worked while employees waited for customers — between one and two hours on average every day. In addition, they were taken off the clock multiple times during the day when business was slow, and improper deductions from wages were made to cover the cost of employee uniforms. TNT Car Wash & Quick Lube also agreed to pay $25,664 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the violations found. One child labor violation involved a 15-year-old who drove customer vehicles on car wash premises.

Puerto Rico Union Agrees to Rerun Election

The National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 313 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has agreed to conduct new nominations and a new election for the office of state executive board member under the supervision of the Office of Labor-Management Standards. An OLMS investigation of a June 2013 election disclosed that Local 313 failed to follow its constitution and bylaws when it eliminated the position of state executive board member from the election. The new election must be held by May 18, 2014.

Learn About OLMS Enforcement Activities

Inspectors Find Blocked Exit at Brooklyn Best Buy

After receiving a complaint about a blocked exit at a Brooklyn, N.Y., Best Buy store, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected and cited the national electronics chain for a repeat safety violation. Inspectors found a storefront exit obstructed by an equipment rack, printer and stacked boxes, potentially hindering a swift and safe exit for workers in an emergency. OSHA had previously cited Best Buy for a similar hazard at a Pennsylvania store. The retailer faces a proposed fine of $27,500.

Read the News Release

Texas Refinery Exposed Workers to Chemical Hazards

Lazarus Energy LLC was cited for 11 safety violations, with proposed penalties totaling $43,400, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, mainly for exposing workers to chemical hazards at its Nixon, Texas, refinery. The inspection, which began last July after a referral from the Environmental Protection Agency, focused on the refinery's process safety management program for handling flammable liquids. The majority of violations related to potential fire and explosion hazards stemming from the distillation of sweet crude oil into products, such as naphtha, kerosene and diesel fuels. "The refinery, in this case, needs to ensure all equipment, processes and new installations receive the proper evaluation and scrutiny before the production of highly hazardous chemicals," said Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin, Texas.

Read the News Release

Bread Maker Misclassifies Employees as Overtime-Exempt

Alpine Valley Bread has agreed to pay $79,396 in back wages to 149 employees working in Mesa, Ariz., after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the employer misclassified nearly 50 percent of the production staff as overtime-exempt managers. The employer also made improper salary deductions to cover the cost of uniforms and employee identification cards.

Kentucky Child Care Initiative Finds Wage Violations

An ongoing enforcement initiative that focuses on the child care industry in Kentucky has found significant violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In fiscal year 2013, the department's Wage and Hour Division, Louisville District Office, conducted 59 cases involving child care providers, resulting in more than $170,000 in back wages for more than 600 workers. Violations included companies failing to count time spent when employees attend mandatory training courses as compensable; improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees as exempt from receiving overtime compensation; making illegal deductions from employees' wages that resulted in earnings falling below the federal minimum wage; paying employees straight-time wages rather than time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek; and failing to maintain the required record keeping.

Read the News Release

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