Tuesday, May 14, 2013 0 comments

Safety training for temp workers

Temp workers offer employers flexibility and cost savings but when it comes to safety, it can’t be presumed that just temps, who are off company payroll, are also off a company’s radar screen. Workplace cost and safety concerns, as well as a decision last month by OSHA, means employers need to make sure their temps are fully involved in their safety programs.

Last month, OSHA made its position clear when it issued a memorandum to its regional administrators, which directed its field inspectors to make “concerted effort using enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards.” In the memo, Thomas Galassi, director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, directed inspectors to identify if temps are working at a jobsite and make sure they are receiving safety training "in a language and vocabulary" they understand, warning that:

Recent inspections have indicated problems where temporary workers have not been trained and were not protected from serious workplace hazards due to lack of personal protective equipment when working with hazardous chemicals and lack of lockout/tagout protections, among others.

The memo referenced an incident where the agency cited Bacardi Bottling Company for a workplace fatality which took place at their Jacksonville, Florida facility last year, as well as a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which found that:

Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 – or 12 percent – of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported. Hispanic/Latino contractors accounted for 28 percent of fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total for the year.

In addition to the OSHA mandate, there are some other reasons to consider that companies should include temps in their safety program - and from my experience, it's not that hard to do.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 0 comments

South Carolina's Higher Ed "con game" shortchanges students & workforce

Writing in The State newspaper, former Abbeville County State Representative Harry Stille, himself a former college professor, sounded a call for reforming higher ed in South Carolina, warning that:

For years the Legislature and universities have conned us about the value of a baccalaureate degree, when these students would have been better off in the two-year system. Our technical colleges are where the major job growth potential is.
We need to limit university admissions to students who are in the top 50 percent of each high school class, who don’t need remedial classes and who score at least 910 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT. And we should send the rest of the students to the two-year system, where they, and we, will get their money’s worth.

I couldn't agree more. I've dealt with the issues of education and workforce, both as a career human resources professional and as a six-year member of the Charleston-area Workforce Investment Board, and have found that some of the most critical workforce shortages that we're faced with in South Carolina - as well as much of the rest of the South - is among those trades which require one to two years of technical education to enter.