A Centennial of His Own: President Ford and DOL (Part 1)
Sharing a centennial year with the Labor Department is President Gerald R. Ford, who was born in Omaha, Neb., on July 14, 1913. After growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and starring on two championship Michigan Wolverines football squads, Ford made his way to the presidency under extraordinary circumstances "an hour of history that troubles our minds and hearts," he called it after Watergate and the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. The economic outlook in August 1974, when Ford took office, was far from rosy; the president faced rising inflation, recession, fears of energy shortages and the deteriorating war in Southeast Asia. To address these issues and stave off unemployment, Ford turned to a stalwart labor economist and veteran of every administration since Franklin D. Roosevelt's: the uncompromising some say gruff John T. Dunlop. Famous for his tenacity in negotiations and his resulting penchant for achieving resolution in the most divisive disputes Dunlop brought a masterful ability to find common ground among competing interests to his role as labor secretary.
In the late 1950s, he published the seminal "Industrial Relations Systems," which advanced a framework for multi-party problem-solving. However, Dunlop's fierce adherence to principle eventually led to a rift with Ford. When Ford vetoed a piece of legislation that Dunlop had promised union leaders, he resigned in protest. Dunlop died in 2003 at the age of 89 after going on to serve in advisory roles for Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton.
Myth: The federal minimum wage goes up automatically as prices increase.
Not true: While some states have enacted rules in recent years triggering automatic increases in their minimum wages to help them keep up with inflation, the federal minimum wage does not operate in the same manner. An increase in the federal minimum wage requires approval by Congress and the president. However, in his proposal to increase the current federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour by 2015, President Obama has also called for the federal minimum wage to adjust automatically with inflation. Eliminating the requirement of formal congressional action would likely reduce the amount of time between increases, and better help low-income families keep up with rising prices.
• We Stand Up for Women Veterans: Representing the Office of the Secretary, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service and the Women's Bureau, respectively, Ariel Batungbacal, Jenny Erwin and Tonya Thompson are leading the charge on a new department initiative to enhance its services for women veterans transitioning to civilian employment. Here, they write about the formation of their team and introduce readers to the Women Veterans Initiative, which was designed as a response to the rise in the population of women veterans and their comparatively high unemployment rates.
• From the Locker Room to the Courts of Wimbledon: The Path to Gender Equality: Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 states that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Women's Bureau Acting Director Latifa Lyles looks at the impact of those 37 words on a generation of women, drawing on examples featured in a new ESPN documentary series, "Nine for IX."
• America's Economy at Your Fingertips: This week, the U.S. Census Bureau's "America's Economy" app added three more of the most widely referenced Bureau of Labor Statistics indicators to an updated version of the app: nonfarm payroll employment, producer price index and consumer price index. BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen informs users about how this resource can be used to analyze economic trends and keep up with the latest economic indicator data.
New Deputy at ETA
Eric Seleznow has been named deputy assistant secretary of labor of the Employment and Training Administration. Seleznow brings more than 30 years of experience in the workforce development field and served as state policy director for the National Skills Coalition for the past three years. Before joining the coalition, he served as executive director of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board in Maryland. Seleznow also served as local WIB director for the Montgomery County (Md.) Department of Economic Development. During his tenure on the Maryland workforce investment board, Seleznow worked with Gov. Martin O'Malley in the launch of Skills2Compete-Maryland, one of the first efforts to assess how many people are being trained for skilled credentials across the state's public workforce, and for education and human services programs. At ETA, Seleznow also will assume the role of acting assistant secretary.
Partnering to Help Veterans
The federal government, working with private and nonprofit sectors, can provide employment opportunities for veterans and "meet our nation's obligation to the men and women who have served our country in uniform," according to Teresa Gerton, deputy assistant secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. During a July 12 address before a Paralyzed Veterans of America audience, Gerton noted that 200,000 men and women are expected to leave the military each year for the next five years, and their needs will exceed the capacity of any single program. "We need an integrated, total government, community and corporate effort to support these veterans as they leave the military, return to their communities, and seek to enter the civilian workforce," she said. Gerton was speaking at the opening of PVA's Paving Access for Veterans' Employment program office in Tampa.
Laura Fortman, principal deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, met with labor leaders at the Chicago Federation of Labor on July 11 to discuss the division's efforts to promote compliance among labor unions and community stakeholders. Topics at the meeting included prevailing wage matters on government contract jobs, misuse of the apprenticeship program under the Davis-Bacon Act, misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and companies using temporary help businesses or staffing agencies to avoid employee responsibilities. The previous day, Fortman travelled to Dallas, where she met with members of the Workers Defense Project to discuss how to better inform workers of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. "Together the Wage and Hour Division and the Workers Defense Project can help ensure that low-wage workers in Dallas are getting paid the wages they have earned," Fortman said.
Alliance for Disability Hiring
An alliance agreement between the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies will support their common goal of improving the workforce system for individuals with disabilities, including veterans. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez and NASWA President and Executive Director Mark Henry formalized the partnership at the NASWA Board of Directors meeting on July 17. The partnership will feature information sharing; training and professional development; and feedback on ODEP policies, programs, resources and outreach. "We appreciate the time NASWA has already invested in collaborating with both ODEP and LEAD, our national technical assistance center," said Martinez. "I look forward to working more closely with NASWA to advance the employment of people with disabilities."
Staff from the Wage and Hour Division in Los Angeles met recently with the directors of the Korean Apparel Manufacturing Association, Korean American Garment Industry Association and Korean American Textile Association in Los Angeles' fashion district to discuss compliance with wage laws. The parties discussed pricing strategies that support correct payment of hourly wages and overtime as well as training plans to help manufacturers better ensure that their contract sewing and cutting shops are paying their workers properly. The associations plan to post Wage and Hour resources on their websites and in their newsletters.
Roundtable on Self-Sufficiency
Helping youth and adults with disabilities get jobs and achieve economic self-sufficiency by leveraging public resources was the focus of the first annual "LEAD" policy roundtable on July 17 and 18. The meeting was hosted by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, in collaboration with the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities. More than 40 leaders from federal and state agencies and trade associations gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss how public resources across different government systems can best be aligned to improve employment services and support for people with disabilities. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez delivered opening remarks. "We're counting on the knowledge and experiences of those gathered here today to help us identify ways that government can replicate and sustain innovative resource integration to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities," she said.
Youth Worker Safety Session
Targeting high school students interested in working in the construction industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration teamed up with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 21, for a youth outreach session on July 12 in Philadelphia. Thirteen young people with the ACE Mentor Program of Eastern Pennsylvania received information on worker rights and OSHA's national fall and heat campaigns. They even got to wear fall protection harnesses. The mentoring program gives students from local high schools opportunities to learn more about potential careers in architecture, engineering and construction.
Aid for Ex-Weapons Workers
The department hosted two town hall meetings on July 17 in Portsmouth, Ohio, to dispense information about the medical benefits provided under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. The EEOICPA was created to assist individuals who became ill as a result of working in the nuclear weapons industry. Staff from the department's Portsmouth Resource Center assisted individuals with the filing of claims under the EEOICPA. To date, $716 million in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits has been paid to claimants living in Ohio, while more than $9.5 billion has been paid nationwide.
Dialogue With the States
Efforts to improve outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities was the focus of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities's annual two-day meeting in Alexandria, Va., on July 11 and 12. The Office of Disability Employment Policy and AIDD are collaborating to engage Partnerships in Employment grantees in ODEP's Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program. Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez addressed grantees from Alaska, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Tennessee and Wisconsin and stressed the benefits of engaging the workforce investment system. Martinez shared information about the successes of EFSLMP in furthering integrated employment for people with disabilities. "The results so far have been very encouraging, and the program has informed ODEP's long-term vision for a national employment first strategic policy framework. It has also helped to ignite a national dialogue," said Martinez. "The program is unique from other federal investments made in the systems change arena because it is cross-disability, inclusive of the primarily publicly financed systems that directly serve people with disabilities, and heavily relies on a policy-driven focus for systems reform."
Job Corps Now Enrolling
Job Corps is seeking new applicants ages 16 to 24 for its national career training and education program at 125 campuses across the country. Residential and nonresidential slots are available for the self-paced federal program. This is an ideal opportunity to gain education, career training, and employability skills for eligible low-income individuals who may be looking for a steppingstone to a community college or for those who need additional support to pursue a community college degree.
The department reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 334,000 for the week ending July 13, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 346,000, down 5,250 from the previous week's revised average.
Senate Confirms Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor
The U.S. Senate on July 18 approved the nomination of Thomas E. Perez to be the nation's 26th Secretary of Labor. Perez has spent his entire career in public service, and will join the department on July 23 after an impressive tenure as the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. He previously served as the secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which enforces workplace safety laws, wage and hour laws and a range of consumer rights laws. Perez was a principal architect of a sweeping package of state lending and foreclosure reforms to address the foreclosure crisis in Maryland. President Obama nominated Perez to be Secretary of Labor in March. In Maryland, the president said, Perez "helped implement the country's first statewide living-wage law, because he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on."
With recent research showing strong evidence that re-employment and eligibility assessments can help unemployed workers find a job more quickly, the department announced a new round of grants on July 15 to help implement these programs at the local level. The funds will be used to provide unemployment insurance recipients with personalized re-employment plans based on career interests and local labor market information as well as referrals to local training programs. Two new states, Connecticut and Delaware, along with the Virgin Islands, are receiving grants to implement an REA program while 36 additional states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are being awarded additional funds to continue existing programs. The funds also will be used to help review claimants' eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefits and to reduce improper payments.
Helping Workers "Beat the Heat" in the Blazing Northeast
With the recent, dramatic rise in temperatures throughout much of the northeastern United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has taken its "Water. Rest. Shade." message straight to America's workers through a number of outreach efforts. Area offices in New York and New Jersey are stressing heat stress prevention at OSHA education centers and distributing bilingual publications to construction workers. News media interviews with OSHA staff highlight OSHA's Heat Safety Tool, a mobile application available on most smartphones. In Connecticut, OSHA's alliance with Lamar Outdoor Advertising will ensure the placement of heat-related safety billboards across the southwest part of the state, and construction and home builders associations have agreed to include heat campaign information on their websites. The Guatemalan Consulate in Rhode Island, the Brazilian Immigrant Center in Massachusetts, temporary employment groups and Latino organizations are distributing pamphlets and bilingual educational information. And numerous presentations and letters have been sent to stakeholders and partners from area offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. OSHA takes the heat wave seriously and is working hard to ensure the safety of employers and their workers.
Protecting Health-care Workers Is Focus of New OSHA Campaign
A major source of injury to health-care workers is musculoskeletal disorders, often due to overexertion and manual patient handling activities. Consequently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a new outreach campaign to raise awareness about the hazards associated with MSDs. According to OSHA, improper patient handling is a leading cause of sprains, strains, and soft tissue and back injuries. As part of the campaign, OSHA is providing employers, unions and associations in the health-care industry throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia with information on proper methods for lifting and transferring patients.
A $5 million competitive grant solicitation announced by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs on July 15 seeks to reduce child labor and secure decent work for youth of legal working age in Morocco. The project will focus on rural areas and areas in the process of urbanization that immediately adjoin cities and towns. It will improve the capacity of Morocco's labor inspectorate to monitor and enforce labor laws in rural agricultural areas and strengthen the ability of civil society organizations to reduce child labor through service provision and advocacy. One or more qualifying organizations will receive funding to improve access to education and training for youth ages 12 to 17, develop training and decent work opportunities for children of legal working age, and link children and families to social services and livelihood opportunities that eliminate the need for child labor. Grant submissions are due Oct. 1.
At the start of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the change in payroll employment for the previous month. Recently, the estimate of jobs lost particularly the unemployment rate has been closely watched by policymakers, Wall Street and the news media. Far less attention is paid to revised estimates, which are more accurate. Erica Groshen, the BLS commissioner, answers three questions on revisions to jobs numbers.
Why are revisions necessary? The Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimate of employment change is based on a monthly survey of about 560,000 work sites, selected to represent the millions of businesses throughout the country. Sampled businesses report the total number of people who worked or received pay during the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Because users of CES data are intensely interested in the earliest possible read on labor market developments, BLS releases the first monthly employment change estimate based on initial reports collected from survey respondents. Although BLS uses a variety of methods to gather reports as quickly as possible, many businesses do not have their payroll data ready to report by the scheduled date that BLS initially releases the data. In 2012, for example, the average collection rate at the time of the initial release was 73.1 percent. In order to improve the quality of the CES data, BLS continues to collect payroll reports for a reference period after the initial release of data. With each subsequent estimate, more businesses have provided their information, making the estimate more accurate.
What steps are taken to improve estimates? In recent years, BLS made changes to the CES program that resulted in savings while improving or maintaining the quality of the estimates. A portion of the savings is being used to increase the amount of data available when the initial estimates are made. More of the initial reports from employers are now being collected via Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing, which has a higher collection rate than other methods used by CES. The CES program also is exploring improvements to the way the estimates are calculated. For example, one project is looking at whether alternative imputation methods the methods we use to account for the reports we do not receive in time for the scheduled initial release may lead to improved initial estimates and smaller revisions.
What's the best way to understand these data? Data users should remember that the initial estimates of payroll employment are a preliminary look at what occurred in each month. It is the quick but lower resolution snapshot of what went on in the job market that month. Because the revised estimates are based on more complete data, they create a higher resolution picture and occasionally the revised data produce a different impression altogether. As we have more time to collect information, the labor market image becomes less blurry. Many users find the early read very useful but they should understand that it takes time to develop a really clear picture.
Ex-offender Realizes Potential Through Department Grant
After he left prison, Daune Jennings was determined "to get my life on track." So he enrolled in the career readiness and workforce preparation training program offered by Alabama's Dannon Project, a departmental grantee. Jennings received financial literacy, life skills and job readiness training and was taught how to conduct online job searches. Because he had previous experience in construction and was now armed with a newfound sense of purpose, Jennings offered a construction company his services for free to show "I was not afraid of a little hard work." Jennings ultimately was hired as a construction worker and, three months later, promoted to crew manager. His goal is to run his own construction business someday and provide employment opportunities for other Dannon graduates.
News You Can Use
Major Redesign for the Monthly Labor Review
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review enters its 99th year with a sleek new design and an eye to the future. Established in 1915, the MLR is the principal journal of fact, analysis and research from BLS. Readers no longer have to wait a month for new articles they will be posted online as soon as they are available. The most striking change is the presentation of articles optimized for online viewing and ease of reading on multiple platforms, be it a conventional computer, smartphone, or tablet. The HTML format also allows better accessibility for those using screen readers. Articles will link easily to related content and incorporate interactive and animated infographics as the material warrants. Since it first was published nearly a century ago, MLR circulation has grown from 8,000 copies to 1.1 million online page views in June 2013.
Massachusetts Federal Contractor to Pay Workers $372,739
Tufts Associated Health Plans Inc. has agreed to pay $372,739 to 12 Asian, Hispanic and African-American workers following an investigation by the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The agreement settles allegations that the Massachusetts-based federal contractor violated provisions of Executive Order 11246 by retaliating against employees that OFCCP had determined were victims of discrimination in an earlier investigation. In May 2009, Tufts agreed to hire minority workers as customer service representatives to settle an OFCCP finding that the contractor's hiring practices discriminated against minorities. OFCCP later received a complaint of discrimination from an individual hired under that agreement. The worker alleged that minority class members were segregated from other employees and held to stricter standards than non-class members during the training program. OFCCP's subsequent investigation determined that retaliation against 12 class members occurred in the timing, application and implementation of the company's customer service training program, resulting in their termination from the program.
Halliburton has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two serious safety violations after a worker was fatally injured in January. While servicing a well on an oil rig in Watford City, N.D., the worker was struck by a high-pressure line. OSHA cited two serious safety violations for failing to secure or restrain high-pressure lines from movement to prevent a struck-by hazard and to control the release of stored energy from a pressure line. Houston-based Halliburton, which supplies products and services to the oil industry, operates a regional office in Williston, N.D.
The department has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Kansas seeking back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for 81 workers of Country Fresh Foods in Newton, Kan. The Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act during a recent investigation at the food production and distribution facility. According to the lawsuit, the company failed to compensate workers for multiple mandatory breaks, resulting in the overtime violations. The lawsuit seeks to compel the company to pay $127,758 to 81 workers, which represents back wages of $63,879 and an additional $63,879 in liquidated damages for violations through Aug. 18, 2012.
New York Drugstore Chain Cited for Exit Access, Fire Safety Hazards
Exit access and fire safety hazards at a Duane Reade drugstore in lower Manhattan have resulted in $71,500 in federal fines for the New York retail chain. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that an emergency exit door, sprinkler system heads and an electrical panel in the store were all blocked or obstructed by piles of boxes and crates of merchandise. These conditions could obstruct a swift exit and negate the sprinklers' function in the event of a fire. Duane Reade Inc. was cited in 2008 for similar hazards at another of its stores. "Finding hazards at one location is of serious concern; hazards replicated at an employer's other work sites indicates a disturbing pattern," said OSHA Area Director Kay Gee. "Duane Reade must take effective steps to identify and eliminate such hazards not just here, but at all its stores."
Hazards at Two Locations Lead to OSHA Fines for Idea Nuova
Violations of workplace safety standards at its Manhattan and Brooklyn locations have resulted in $82,800 in federal fines for Idea Nuova, a company that provides a variety of home goods for retail sale. Inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the company's warehouse, sales office and showroom facilities found obstructed exit routes, propped-open emergency exit doors to enclosed stairways, blocked access to electrical panels and unmounted fire extinguishers at both locations. In the event of a fire, the open exit doors would allow an upward draft of air that could intensify and spread the flames, potentially block employees' egress, and potentially trap employees and prevent them from exiting the building.
Robert S. Caputo and Glenn M. Bankert have been ordered to restore $225,000 to an employee stock ownership plan due to a consent judgment obtained by the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration. The judgment follows a lawsuit initiated by the department that alleges the defendants breached their fiduciary responsibilities in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. "This agency is committed to taking action on behalf of workers when plan fiduciaries fail in their duty to act solely in the interest of the participants," said Isabel Colon, EBSA's regional director in Atlanta. The judgment also permanently bars the defendants from acting as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA and appoints an independent fiduciary to administer the plan.
Texas Oil Field Chemical Manufacturer Faces Fines of $74,800
Oilfield Solutions Inc. was cited with 33 safety violations and proposed fines totaling $74,800 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a January inspection. During the inspection, OSHA found deficiencies in the company's process safety management program and worker exposure to other hazards at its Midland, Texas, oil field chemical manufacturing plant. OSHA initiated the inspection under the agency's Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program. PSM encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals in this case, formaldehyde and flammable liquids such as alcohols and toluene.
Former Union Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement
Natasha J. Bever, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 4202 in Rantoul, Ill., pleaded guilty on June 28 to one count of embezzlement of labor union funds. Her plea in U.S.District Court for the Central District of Illinois follows an Office of Labor-Management Standards investigation, which revealed that Bever took unauthorized excess salary payments totaling $117,378 from the union's payroll account. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Pennsylvania Foundry Cited for Repeat Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Domestic Casting Co. for four alleged repeat and 19 serious safety and health violations found at the company's Shippensburg, Pa., foundry. OSHA proposed $96,250 in penalties following its January investigation, which was initiated in response to a complaint and as part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Noise Hazards and National Emphasis Program on Crystalline Silica. Violations include the company's failure to properly guard live electrical parts, chains, sprockets, pulleys and belts; and a lack of engineering controls relating to silica, sulfur dioxide and iron oxide.
China Inn Cafe Pays More Than $106,000 in Back Wages
H & WH Inc., doing business as China Inn Cafe in Katy, Texas, paid $106,573 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to 14 delivery drivers, cooks and servers after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. The division's Houston District Office found that China Inn Cafe paid cooks a salary, without regard to the numbers of hours worked, which was less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked. The salary resulted in an overtime violation because cooks did not receive any additional compensation for their hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Additionally, the employer paid drivers and wait staff day rates, which did not include overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a week, as required by the FLSA. The company also failed to maintain accurate pay and time records.
Asbestos-Related Hazards Found at New York Auto Plant
During a recent inspection of Ford Motor Co.'s Buffalo, N.Y., plant, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found violations of the agency's asbestos and respiratory protection standards. Inspectors observed that a pipefitter working on a steam line was exposed to asbestos-containing material in its insulation, respiratory protection was not worn by workers exposed to asbestos-containing material, work was not conducted within a regulated and properly demarcated area, and monitoring was not performed to determine accurately the airborne concentrations of asbestos to which workers were potentially exposed.
Patient Assaults on Hospital Workers Lead to OSHA Citations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Armstrong Center for Medicine & Health Inc., doing business as Armstrong County Memorial Hospital in Kittanning, Pa., with two violations following a complaint alleging that workers were injured by patient assaults in the hospital's behavioral health unit. One serious violation was cited for hazards associated with the employer's failure to implement programs and procedures to protect workers from injuries resulting from assaults by patients. The hospital also was cited for one other-than-serious violation for failing to record a work-related injury on the OSHA 300 Log.
Dental Company Faulted for Bloodborne Pathogen Hazards
MD Dental Center PC, doing business as Smile Center Dental, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 26 serious violations at the company's Washington, D.C., facility. The violations include worker exposure to bloodborne pathogens without an exposure control plan or proper training, lack of proper eye protection for workers using chemicals to sanitize medical instruments, and failure to provide workers with Hepatitis B vaccinations within 10 days of employment. Penalties of $61,600 have been proposed.
Texas Plant Cited for Exposing Workers to Hazardous Chemical
Bayer MaterialScience LLC in Baytown, Texas, has been cited with four safety violations, including one willful, and a proposed penalty of $89,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA found that the company failed to protect workers from methylenedianiline, or MDA, during the manufacturing of raw materials that go into producing plastics. MDA is a light-brown crystalline solid with a faint amino odor that is produced commercially by the condensation of aniline and formaldehyde. MDA exposure can occur through skin absorption, inhalation and ingestion. Short-term overexposure to MDA produces fever, chills, loss of appetite, vomiting and/or jaundice. Long-term overexposure may cause cancer, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, blood and spleen. The willful violation was cited for failing to establish regulated areas where workers were subject to dermal exposure to MDA and promptly alert workers who had the potential to be directly exposed to MDA when a release occurred.
Ohio Manufacturer Faces Fines on Safety Violations
Specialty Metals Processing Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with five violations at its machine tool manufacturing plant in Stow, Ohio. The violations include three failure-to-abate citations for not administering an effective hearing conservation program and implementing procedures to control hazardous energy. OSHA initiated its follow-up inspection in January. Proposed fines total $131,320.
Technician Fired After Reporting Unsafe Lead Abatement Practices
Coit Services of Ohio has been ordered to pay $161,228 in back wages, compensatory damages and interest, plus attorney's fees, to a technician following an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The investigation found that the Bedford Heights company violated the whistle-blower provisions of the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act when it wrongfully terminated an on-location technician for reporting breaches of lead abatement protocol during a residential water mitigation project in Shaker Heights. OSHA also has ordered the company to reinstate the technician to his former position.
Trucking Company Ordered to Reinstate, Pay Employee
A Massachusetts commercial motor carrier and its owner have been ordered to reinstate a fired employee and pay him more than $131,000 in back wages and damages. A whistleblower investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Brillo Motor Transportation Inc. and owner Chuck Cappello violated the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act when they terminated a truck driver in retaliation for his refusal to drive hours in excess of those allowed under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. "An employer does not have the right to take adverse action against an employee who refuses to violate safety regulations designed to protect him and the public," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Such employer activity places the well-being of employees and the public at risk if it intimidates workers into violating the law."