Accelerate Team Performance with These Opportunities in May

Don’t coast along when it comes to employee skills and legal developments that impact your business. Engage people – and protect your bottom line – through a variety of upcoming training events.

The annual Indiana Worker’s Compensation Conference will take place May 11 at Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station. It will feature sessions on psychological injuries in the workplace; the impact of worker’s compensation on your organization; Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation Act (and how it works together with the FMLA and ADA); and more!

Sponsors are Athletico Physical Therapy, Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Ice Miller LLP and Pro Resources Staffing Services. Contact Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876 regarding additional sponsorship and exhibit opportunities.

Shift gears by attending the annual Indiana Environmental Permitting and Reporting Conference on May 18-19 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Sponsored by KERAMIDA, Inc., it’s the most complete and comprehensive permitting and reporting course offered in the state.

Highlights include:

  • 2016 Annual Reporting Requirements and Update
  • Are You Prepared for Your Next Air Compliance Inspection?
  • Spill Reporting and Spill Prevention Considerations
  • Most Common Notices of Violation – How to Demonstrate Permit Compliance
  • Beneficial Reuse of Foundry Sand/CCR – Permits and Regulations

Two additional events, both at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center, round out May offerings: Forklift Safety: Train the Trainer (May 24) and OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Course (May 25).

Register for any of these events online or by calling Nick at (800) 824-6885.

NUCOR Earns Unique Certification for Steel Company

Congressman Mike Pence and Indiana Labor Commissioner Lori Torres will be in Crawfordsville today to celebrate NUCOR Crawfordsville earning an OSHA-sponsored STAR classification. It’s the highest safety rating a company can achieve, and NUCOR would be the only steel company in Indiana to earn the designation.

NUCOR Crawfordsville, one of the largest employers in west central Indiana, has added one more “first” to its ever-growing list of accomplishments and  has  scheduled a celebration to acknowledge the 710 teammates who worked together  to reach  this milestone…

“Working safely  is Priority One at all NUCOR locations and achieving the highest rating for the VPP program is something that we all worked to accomplish and will continue,” said John J. Purdy, Safety/Medical Director for the Crawfordsville operation.  He added that Nucor Steel Indiana is also dual registered in two other Safety Management Systems, ANSI Z10 and OHSAS 18001.

“It was a rigorous process that took three years to complete and involved a comprehensive wall-to-wall inspection with a dozen OSHA Safety and Health experts who spent two weeks observing and evaluating our procedures and talking with teammates,” said Ron Dickerson, Vice President and General Manager. “With the addition of VPP Star to the two other designations, we take great pride in being the only steel mill in Indiana and the Midwest to reach this level of Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health,” he said and added that the Crawfordsville Division joins eight other NUCOR steelmaking operations across the country which have achieved VPP’s STAR designation.

This latest accomplishment adds to the list of “firsts” attributed to the Crawfordsville plant.  When it opened in 1989, it ushered in a new era of steelmaking as the first Mini-Mill in the world to make quality flat-rolled steel using the revolutionary technology of “thin” slab casting.

In 2002, the plant also introduced the world’s first Castrip® Micro Mill which produces Ultra-Thin Cast Steel. The process instantly transforms molten steel directly into steel sheets in just one remarkable step. Compared to a traditional steelmaking facility, the Castrip process consumes about 95 percent less energy and emits less than one-tenth the greenhouse gases.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our teammates who have embraced the Safety First culture and entrepreneurial environment at NUCOR and work with us to keep the Crawfordsville operation a safe, top-performing facility,” Dickerson added.

OSHA Ramping Up Efforts to Crack Down on Businesses

Chamber member Frost Brown Todd tells you what you need to know about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and how it’s heightening efforts to bust businesses who aren’t complying with safety regulations. What’s been allowed to slide in the past may get your company in trouble by today’s standards:

Employers should be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been loudly broadcasting to everyone who will listen that it is stepping up its enforcement efforts. As the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, David Michaels, proudly announced in a recent speech, OSHA cited almost twice as many employers for egregious violations in the first quarter of 2010 than it had in all of the previous fiscal year, and OSHA also issued the largest fine in its history to British Petroleum.

Recent developments indicate that, if anything, Michaels understated the current trend at OSHA. Not only is OSHA more stringently enforcing its existing standards, it is also expanding its enforcement efforts under the general duty clause, and maximizing penalties for employers charged with safety violations.

If you need information on safety and ergonomic information (federal and state), I’d advise you to look into acquiring our popular Safety & Health Guide, authored by attorneys at Ice Miller.

Legislature Shooting in the Dark on This One

Do you want the factual or the emotional arguments against what has become an unfortunate Indiana General Assembly tradition in recent years — consideration of legislation to allow guns to be brought into the workplace? The Senate actually passed such a bill in 2009 (by a 42-8 vote) and it returns this morning in the Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee (in the form of SB 25).

Yes, individuals have a right to bear arms. But property owners certainly have the right — and obligation — to provide a safe workplace for their employees. The consequences are bad, often deadly, when guns and the workplace mix. Some of the facts that Chamber issue expert George Raymond will share in testimony:

  • October 2009 study by University of Pennsylvania researchers that shows people in possession of a firearm are almost 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than people who are not in possession of a firearm. It cites a number of reasons why possessors of guns are in more, not less, danger.
  • A previous case study in North Carolina found that the "risk of a worker being killed at work was substantially higher in workplaces where employer policy allowed workers to keep guns … relative to those where all weapons were prohibited."
  • Texas, known for its straight and not-so-straight shooters, became one of the most recent states to "just say no" in 2009, rejecting bills that would have allowed guns in college classrooms and in cars in company parking lots.

If emotion is more your flavor, how about:

  • Last week’s St. Louis manufacturing company shooting that resulted in four deaths and five people being wounded.
  • The 2008 Henderson, Kentucky tragedy in which a disciplined worker retrieved a pistol from his car and proceeded to kill five people before shooting himself.
  • Two Northern Indiana incidents within four months of each other (in Goshen and South Bend in 2001 and 2002, which resulted in seven deaths and others being wounded).

Really, guns in the workplace? The goal should be to help Indiana companies and their employees prosper, not unnecessarily put them in the line of fire.

Free Training, Quality Programs. Need I Say More?

I don’t care if I’ve just eaten lunch or have pledged not to succumb to temptation, but any time a co-worker sends an e-mail announcing free food in the break room, my computer keyboard falls silent and “Chariots of Fire” begins playing in my head as I rush to the treat awaiting me. Who says nothing in life is free? And most of the time it is pretty darned good!

Indiana Chamber members and customers also can “get something (always of high quality) for nothing,” so to speak, when it comes to employee training. The Chamber is partnering with Ready Indiana to provide scholarships (while funding lasts) to Hoosier businesses with 250 employees or less for several top-quality professional training seminars. Awardees receive a full seminar registration (which includes instruction, course materials, continental breakfast and lunch).

Scholarships are available for the following:

  • Supervising and Managing People
  • 46th Annual Human Resources Conference
  • 2010 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo
  • Time Management and Personal Effectiveness
  • Forklift Safety: Train the Trainer
  • Take advantage of this opportunity to boost your employees’ workplace skills – all without spending a dime.

Contact Lisa Green at (800) 824-6885 with questions. View the application for complete course listings and dates.

Mandatory Poster Updates Coming! Make Sure You’re in Compliance

On May 21, 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush. On November 21, 2009, employers must begin to comply with the law and it was recently announced that a new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission posting would be required.

Here are the changes that will be made when our new poster sets are released in November:

  • EEOC poster reflects GINA information (required)
  • Updated Indiana Teen Work Hours posting
  • Updated federal and state minimum wage postings

Poster sets are $45 each, and Indiana Chamber members receive a 25% discount.

To place your pre-order, call us at (800) 824-6885; visit our web site; or e-mail publications@indianachamber.com. Another convenient option many of our customers take advantage of is to join our poster subscription list. That way, when mandatory updates are made, you simply receive the new posters and an invoice without having to call and place an order. Since we’ll only send them when MANDATORY changes are made, you won’t be expending any extra time or money on employment postings, and you have the peace of mind that you’ll always be in compliance.

“Safety First” a Worthwhile Motto for Indiana Businesses

Safety – it’s a part of everyday life. There are those common sense words from parents like putting on your seatbelt or looking both ways before crossing the street.

It seems providing a safe workplace for employees would fall in the same category. Ah, if only it were as simple as mom yelling from the front seat, “Are you buckled in yet?”

First, consider the increased complexity of workplace safety (you know … protecting workers who operate machinery that costs more than a house, addressing ergonomic issues and a host of other considerations). Add in that pesky economic downturn we experienced and things get a little more complicated on the workplace safety front.

Read in the September/October BizVoice what some Indiana safety experts say about how the economy impacted their field and what companies should be doing in tough times (hint: it’s not cutting corners).

Also, read about some Indiana companies that understand the value of safety in all economic situations. A 2009 Governor’s Workplace Safety Award winner offered this:

Like many companies, Frankfort-based DSM NeoResins+ is looking at ways to reduce costs. But those cuts will not interfere with the company’s No. 1 priority, notes Kevin Goodnight, the U.S. safety, health and environmental manager.

“Our approach is safety is always the first priority,” he asserts. “So whenever we talk about any sort of savings or programs we have in place for getting through the harsh economic times, we always talk about safety first. We will not skimp on safety.”

We want to know your thoughts. How have you adapted, if at all, your safety practices and priorities?

Also, BizVoice magazine editor Tom Schuman recently sat down with Safety Resources President Robert Baldwin via Inside INdiana Business. The message is a key one to consider for many Indiana businesses who might be considering cutting safety training. See the video below.

Note: Those interested in this issue might also find our Safety & Health Guide for Indiana Business to be a useful tool.

Ready for the Minimum Wage Increase in July?

In July, the minimum wage will change from $6.55 to $7.25 according to federal law (as part of the three-year, stair step increase implemented in 2007). You need to make sure your company’s mandatory employment postings include those changes. Ours do.

Here are the changes we made when we published new poster sets in January:

  • FMLA notice (updated in January)
  • Indiana Minimum Wage notice (our sets feature updated overtime requirements that will still be in compliance when minimum wage increases in July)
  • Federal USERRA notice (updated October 2008)
  • Federal Equal Employment Opportunity notice (updated August 2008)
  • Poster sets are $45 each, and Indiana Chamber members receive a 25% discount.

To place your order, call us at (800) 824-6875 or visit our web site.

Please mention POSTBLOG509 when ordering.

Swiss Bank Secrecy No Longer Tolerated by U.S.

Apparently, the United States government is putting the pressure on Swiss banks to reveal the identities of their American customers for tax purposes.

This reminds me: When I was a kid watching sitcoms in the ’80s and a character would mention Swiss bank accounts (likely Alex P. Keaton), I always imagined a bank made of Swiss cheese, where the tellers interacted with customers through the holes. In related news, I was not a bright child. And sadly, now an adult, the only thing I can ponder about this is whether or not the potent smell of such a workplace would warrant an OSHA violation. Oh to long for the carelessness of youth. Anyway…

MSNBC writes:

Federal authorities have filed a lawsuit against Swiss-based bank UBS AG seeking the identities of tens of thousands of U.S. customers.

The suit filed in Miami Thursday seeks to force the firm to turn over information on as many as 52,000 U.S. customers who hid their accounts from the U.S. government in violation of tax laws. According to the government’s lawsuit, the accounts in question held about $14.8 billion in assets in the past decade.

The company said it will fight in court to keep the names private, arguing Swiss bank secrecy laws shield those customers.

A federal judge will now decide whether the U.S. courts can force a bank to violate Swiss bank secrecy laws and provide the account information.

The move came as Switzerland desperately sought to reassure its citizens and international banking clients that it would safeguard a treasured tradition of confidential accounts after taking the unprecedented step of revealing over 250 tax cheats to U.S. authorities.

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Tim Brewer for the article.

Chamber Now Offering Publications in PDF Form

Customers spoke — and we listened.

While many devoted purchasers of our human resource and other issue-specific compliance books enjoy the tangible copies, some just wanted searchable information right on their computer. For those folks, we now offer most of our compliance publications in downloadable PDF form.

To purchase, just visit our web site and search through the book categories; you will see a related page offering an "online guide" if we have that book in PDF form. The cost is the same as the hard copy, and they are for credit card purchase only.

Happy reading, and happy compliance…ing!