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Top 10 Safety & Security Stories of 2013
 

By Roy Maurer  12/27/2013
 
 

From the tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard to workplace bullying legislation and the countdown to the Globally Harmonized System hazard-communication training deadline, 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.

Employers’ OSHA 300A Forms Due
Employers required to keep the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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.

Workplace-Bullying Laws Coming Soon?
Since 2003, 25 states have introduced workplace-bullying legislation that would allow workers to sue for harassment without requiring them to prove discrimination.

Critics contend that these measures would encourage frivolous lawsuits. Could they protect workers from bullying without opening up employers to scores of meritless claims or imposing a civility code on the workplace?

The issue of employers facing legal liability associated with bullying became part of the national dialogue in October, when a Miami Dolphins football player called it quits after a teammate allegedly bullied him on several occasions.

Beating the Flu
The 2012-13 flu season was the worst in a decade, reaching epidemic levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The severity of the flu outbreak left many companies wondering if their health and attendance policies were helping or hampering their efforts to keep the flu from spreading. To minimize absenteeism, experts recommended that employers offer workers onsite flu vaccination clinics.

Countdown to GHS Training Compliance
By Dec. 1, 2013, all U.S. employees who come in contact with chemicals in the workplace should have been trained on how to interpret hazards communicated through brand-new labels and pictograms as well as standardized safety data sheets, meeting requirements under OSHA’s revised hazard communication standard.

HR Resources After the Navy Yard Tragedy
Aaron Alexis had a valid secret government clearance when he passed through security into the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013, and killed 12 people before police shot him dead. Since then, the clearance screening process that allowed Alexis to enter the facility has come under intense scrutiny, in the forms of lawsuits, congressional hearings and investigative reports. Alexis’ ability to pass the government’s security-check system has prompted questions of how background checks are conducted and how long a security clearance is valid without review. SHRM Online also reported what employers can do to prevent people with valid access to their worksites from doing harm.

Funding for Safety Training
OSHA’s annual offer to subsidize safety training and education as part of the agency’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program grabbed a lot of readers’ attention. OSHA awarded $10.1 million to 70 organizations, including nonprofits, employer associations, labor unions, and colleges and universities. The grants are aimed at small businesses, workers and employers in industries with high injury and fatality rates, as well as vulnerable workers, including those who are young, have limited English proficiency or are difficult to reach.

Suicide in the Workplace
In this multisourced piece, SHRM Online addressed how HR can best assist employees struggling with thoughts of suicide.

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations
Fall protection once again topped the list of the agency’s most-cited workplace-safety violations. While the standards being violated were no surprise, the number of violations for all 10 of the most-cited standards significantly increased since 2012.

Managing High-Risk Employees
A lot gets written about workplace violence in the aftermath of an incident such as the Washington Navy Yard shooting. There is talk about the need for more vigilance in the HR and security functions, the need for more policies, more access-control devices and better partnerships with the police. But what about managing an ongoing case involving a high-risk employee who has made threats but has not acted on them? What best practices can the HR department provide?

OSHA’s Plans for 2014
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s portion of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda revealed several 2014 dates that employers should take notice of, including those for proposed rules on the long-promised injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) and occupational exposure to beryllium; a small-business review of combustible dust; public hearings on the recently proposed crystalline silica and electronic record-keeping rules; and a host of whistle-blower-protection regulations.

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 2014.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.

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