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Things you should know

OSHA safety and health information bulletins: forklifts and particle accelerators

Recently released bulletins from OSHA offer tips on the safe use of forklifts and particle accelerators.

Standup forklift operators click here
Particle accelerators click here

EEOC Guide on Severance and Release Agreements

The EEOC has issued a document for employees that answers questions about severance agreements in exchange for a waiver of actual or potential discrimination claims.  Part II provides basic information about severance agreements; Part III explains when a waiver is valid; and Part IV specifically addresses waivers of age discrimination claims that must comply with provisions of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).  Finally, this document includes a checklist with tips on what employees should do before signing a waiver in a severance agreement and a sample of an agreement offered to a group of employees giving them the opportunity to resign in exchange for severance benefits.

American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) new fall workplace standards effective November 16, 2009

As slips, trips and falls continue to represent significant exposures and hazards in the workplace, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced the approval of three new fall protection standards by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), aimed at preventing these hazards in the workplace. The three standards are:

  • ANSI/ASSE Z359.6-2009 "Specification and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems;"
  • ANSI/ASSE Z359.12-2009 "Connecting Components for Personal Fall Arrest Systems;"
  • ANSI/ASSE Z359.13-2009 "Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards"

The three new standards will become part of the ASSE Fall Protection Code with an effective date of Nov. 16.

DOL opinion letters on wage and hour issues

Several times a year, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor issues opinion letters as guidance on wage and hour legal issues. Topics covered include the calculation of salary deductions, job bonuses, tipping pools, salary reductions and exempt status, overtime and numerous classification issues.

California employers can find similar opinion letters here.

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

Effective September 23, 2009, the new HIPAA breach notification rule applies to health care providers and health plans, among other entities, including third party administrators and covered entities business associates. The rule requires notification to individuals and to HHS for breaches of unsecured PHI. Unsecured PHI is any PHI that is not secured through a technology or methodology specified by HHS. The recently published HHS regulations require covered entities to promptly notify (no later than 60 calendar days from the date of discovery) affected individuals of a breach. For breaches affecting fewer than 500 people, written notification must be provided to individuals via first-class mail. For a breach affecting more than 500 individuals, the covered entity must contact a prominent media to provide notice of a breach such as a press release, in addition to providing notice to HHS.

The first six months after the rule takes effect will be a period in which HHS will not impose sanctions for violations. Instead, HHS will work with covered entities and business associates through technical assistance and voluntary corrective actions.

Revised I-9 Form expires in 2012

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration service (USCIS) recently issued an updated version of the Employment Eligibility Verification form, I-9, with a revised date of Aug. 7, 2009. Employers can use this form or the form with the revision date Feb. 2, 2009. Revision dates are in the lower right hand portion of the form.

Form I-9 must be kept by the employer either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
Forms in English and Spanish are available online.

Study: Vehicle monitoring systems improve safety, maintenance

Deficient or out-of-adjustment brakes were a factor in 29.4% of the fatal crashes investigated by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for its 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study. A recent study conducted for the FMCSA found that the use of the monitoring systems allowed managers to better plan and anticipate maintenance actions and initiate preventive maintenance for severe failures, which could lead to highway crashes.