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From the catastrophic Ebola virus outbreak and new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury reporting requirements to the national focus on domestic violence and data breaches, it was another busy year in occupational safety and security.
Determined by your clicks, here’s a look back at the year’s top 10 SHRM Online Safety & Security stories that resonated most with readers.
Top 10 Background Screening Trends for 2014Background screening expert Lester Rosen gave his predictions for industry trends in January, including focusing on the growth of the “ban-the-box” movement eliminating questions about criminal records on initial job applications; an increase in legal actions—including class-action lawsuits—for failing to perform compliant background checks, including what to do when screens turn up criminal records; and further Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance for employers under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Ebola Virus Outbreak Threatened Employers Abroad and at Home
The largest and deadliest Ebola virus outbreak ever recorded killed over 7,500 people in 2014. The World Health Organization declared an outbreak in West Africa in April. U.S. employers initially sought guidance for employees working in areas abroad threatened by the virus, but when the first cases of the disease were announced in Texas in August, the need to prevent the spread of the disease and what precautions to take if an employee fell ill became critical.
OSHA Announces New Injury Reporting Rules
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised the requirements for reporting work-related fatality, injury and illness information. The final rule also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements. Guidance is still expected from OSHA on certain changes, including what types of patient admissions are covered under “inpatient hospitalizations.”
E-Cigs: The Newest Clash over Workplace HealthE-cigarettes have grown in popularity since they were first made available in the United States in 2006. Opponents of e-cigarettes point to what they call misleading health claims and industry-sponsored studies that claim the products are safe and effective in helping smokers quit. Proponents say e-cigarettes offer an attractive alternative to smoking—one that some companies are choosing because they believe they are safer than traditional cigarettes and offer an improvement in smokers’ productivity at work.
Employers’ OSHA 300A Forms DueEmployers required to keep the OSHA Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, must post Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, in a workplace common area from Feb. 1 to April 30 each year. Form 300A details an organization’s total number of deaths, its employees’ missed workdays, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of workers and their hours for the year.
When Domestic Violence Comes to WorkFormer Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February 2014 made national headlines and drew attention to domestic violence. The pervasiveness and severity of domestic violence impacting the workplace demands the attention of employers, managers, human resources and security staff, experts agreed.
Host Employer Responsible for Recording Temp-Worker InjuriesOSHA clarified that host employers and staffing agencies are both responsible for determining temporary workers’ employment conditions and for complying with the law, but that only one employer should record injuries and illnesses. “In most cases, the host employer is the one responsible for recording the injuries and illnesses of temporary workers,” the agency concluded.
Banner Year for Cyber Criminals2014 was a banner year for data thieves and cyber criminals. It’s been one year since the theft of 40 million credit and debit card numbers from Target was revealed in December 2013. Target turned out to be the leadoff hit in a series of high-profile data thefts in 2014, including attacks on Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, Michaels, Staples, JPMorgan Chase and Sony.
Workplace AEDs, Response Programs Can Save Lives
Sudden cardiac arrest—when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning—is the leading cause of death in the workplace, however most employers have not prepared their workforce to respond when a colleague goes down. Only four percent of the 7 million businesses in the U.S. have an onsite automated external defibrillator (AED)—a medical device that sends an electric shock to the heart to try to restore its normal rhythm.
OSHA Releases Plans for 2015The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s portion of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regulatory Agenda revealed several 2015 dates that employers should take notice of, including actions on silica, infectious diseases and recordkeeping.
Sign up for your free subscription to SHRM’s monthly Safety & Security e-newsletter. You’ll receive links to articles, webcasts and other resources designed for HR professionals with responsibility for or interest in workplace safety and security policies and programs.
Here’s wishing you a safe and healthy 2015.
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