Monthly Archives: July 2015

Texas Trench Collapse Results in $400k OSHA Fine and 16 Safety Violations

On July 22, 2015, Hassell Construction Co. was cited by OSHA for 16 safety violations (including 6 egregious willful violations) and given a whopping $423,900 fine. Hassell Construction Co. is a construction company based in Richmond, Texas with about 150 employees that construct water and sewer lines around Houston, Texas. The employer was given 15 business days to comply with each citation, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Houston South area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the OSHA Health Review Commission.

These citations were given after a trench that was 8 feet below the ground collapsed in February crushing an unsuspecting employee. Luckily, the worker was dug out by his co-workers using their bare hands. The minute the worker was freed from the trench, the trench collapsed a second time.

According to OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas, John Hermanson, “Hassell Construction knew its trenches weren’t safe, but still put its workers in harm’s way.” Due to the fact that trench cave-ins such as the one in February are completely preventable OSHA has also placed the construction company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program which often inspects employers and mandates follow-up inspections to ensure that they are complying with the law. In North Carolina, a similar incident allowed the employee to sue the employer directly and overcome the exclusivity provision of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Woodson v. Rowland. 373 S.E.2d 674 (1988).

Read about the citations here: https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/HassellConstruction_1031127_0722_15.pdf

Original Article 7/22/15 posted on WorkersCompensation.com.

Join the conversation: What does it mean to grow old in America

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted from the AOL blog. You can view the original here.

AOLTwitterChat_v3

America is aging — as a country. As of last year about one in seven Americans was older than 65, and by 2030 it will be closer to one in five Americans. Aging impacts all of us, regardless of how young or old.

From health care to finances, our aging nation creates new challenges and issues for all Americans — baby boomers and millennials alike.

This Monday, July 13, the White House is highlighting the issues involved with growing old in America today.

As a special part of that event, AOL is teaming up with the White House to help shed light on this important topic. As part of our comprehensive coverage throughout the day, Labor Secretary Tom Perez will be answering questions live on Monday on AOL.com — and you can be part of the discussion.

Here are the top issues we’ll be discussing:

  • Impact to the work force
  • Health at all ages
  • Retirement security, today and in the future
  • Housing and financial security

Submit questions and join the conversation on how aging is transforming the work force and impacting the economy with @AOL and @LaborSec with the hashtag #WhiteHouseOnAOL on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine — or even in the comments below.

Click here to tweet or submit your questions on Twitter using #WhiteHouseOnAOL, then tune in to @AOL on Monday, July 13th at 12:30 p.m. ET to be a part of the live Twitter chat with @LaborSec.

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Unpaid Intern or Employee?

In New York, after prevailing in trial court, unpaid interns for Fox Entertainment Group were able to receive class credit and minimum wage for their work on the set of the film “Black Swan.” Their win made the Second Circuit Court of Appeals adopt a test to be used in determining whether an unpaid intern should be classified as an employee. Here are the factors that should be applied in determining whether they are actually an employee:

 

  1. The parties’ understanding regarding expectation of compensation
  2. The similarity of the internship training to that available in an educational environment
  3. Whether the internship is tied to the intern’s education and accommodates the intern’s academic commitments
  4. The duration of the relationship
  5. Whether the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, paid employees
  6. The parties expectation about a permanent job offer at the end of the internship.

 

These factors only apply in the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York & Vermont), but they do provide some guidance when evaluating and setting up internship programs to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.  

For more information see Laura Lawless Robertson’s post on The National Law Review online.